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I Love Dirt!: 52 Activities to Help You and Your Kids Discover the Wonders of Nature

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I Love Dirt! presents 52 open-ended activities to help you engage your child in the outdoors. No matter what your location—from a small patch of green in the city to the wide-open meadows of the country—each activity is meant to promote exploration, stimulate imagination, and heighten a child's sense of wonder. To learn more about the author, Jennifer Ward, visit her websi I Love Dirt! presents 52 open-ended activities to help you engage your child in the outdoors. No matter what your location—from a small patch of green in the city to the wide-open meadows of the country—each activity is meant to promote exploration, stimulate imagination, and heighten a child's sense of wonder. To learn more about the author, Jennifer Ward, visit her website at jenniferwardbooks.com and to learn more about the illustrator, Susie Ghahremani, visit her website at boygirlparty.com.


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I Love Dirt! presents 52 open-ended activities to help you engage your child in the outdoors. No matter what your location—from a small patch of green in the city to the wide-open meadows of the country—each activity is meant to promote exploration, stimulate imagination, and heighten a child's sense of wonder. To learn more about the author, Jennifer Ward, visit her websi I Love Dirt! presents 52 open-ended activities to help you engage your child in the outdoors. No matter what your location—from a small patch of green in the city to the wide-open meadows of the country—each activity is meant to promote exploration, stimulate imagination, and heighten a child's sense of wonder. To learn more about the author, Jennifer Ward, visit her website at jenniferwardbooks.com and to learn more about the illustrator, Susie Ghahremani, visit her website at boygirlparty.com.

30 review for I Love Dirt!: 52 Activities to Help You and Your Kids Discover the Wonders of Nature

  1. 4 out of 5

    Dree

    This is one odd little book. If I had bought this book I would have been so upset. I'm not entirely clear on who the audience is. The subtitle says "your kids"--but the activities are for toddlers. At the end of each activity it tells you its supposed benefits--"Stimulates imagination and relaxation". However, these activities are things kids do on their own. Looking for spiderwebs, counting ladybugs, watching the clouds, looking for bird nests. Kids don't need to be led to these activities. Kids This is one odd little book. If I had bought this book I would have been so upset. I'm not entirely clear on who the audience is. The subtitle says "your kids"--but the activities are for toddlers. At the end of each activity it tells you its supposed benefits--"Stimulates imagination and relaxation". However, these activities are things kids do on their own. Looking for spiderwebs, counting ladybugs, watching the clouds, looking for bird nests. Kids don't need to be led to these activities. Kids are naturally curious, naturally imaginative, and naturally playful, they do NOT need to be led to imagination--and if you are leading them, it's not really imagination, is it? And then there are the warnings: try to designate play clothes that are allowed to get dirty!; Do not hold or handle ants of any size; remember to wear sunscreen and a hat; never try to hold a spider; make sure the sun is not shining directly in anyone's eyes; layer and bundle your kids. The very simplistic explanations (what a blue moon is, how ants smell, what is wind, what are leaves, etc etc) are at a toddler's level, not the parents. Any parent (or older sibling!) who does not already know these things is not the sort of person who would ever buy this book. Also--this book is assumes you live in the northeastern US. It rains in spring, snows in winter, you have cardinals and blue jays, birds migrate to warmer areas, there are lots of deciduous trees, and summer is the most comfortable season to be outside. And, um, it does snow in part of the saguaro's native range.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kellie

    Many of these activities may seem obvious to science teachers and those who have spent a lot of time outdoors, but this book was really helpful to me as a mom who doesn't have much knowledge of such things myself but wants to encourage reverence/respect for nature in my kids. I thought the activities presented here were the best I have found - very simple and straight forward, requiring no outside materials, and many would be interesting to both my third grader and my preschooler. One example: g Many of these activities may seem obvious to science teachers and those who have spent a lot of time outdoors, but this book was really helpful to me as a mom who doesn't have much knowledge of such things myself but wants to encourage reverence/respect for nature in my kids. I thought the activities presented here were the best I have found - very simple and straight forward, requiring no outside materials, and many would be interesting to both my third grader and my preschooler. One example: going on a hike/hunt for birds nests, talking about how they are different/the same, and then trying to make our own bird nest from mud and sticks and such. Another: leaving food for ants on top of sticks or something, watch them collect the food and observe the other ants picking up their scent trail to the food, then remove the sticks etc with the scent trail and watch their confusion. One more: gravity experiments with natural objects of different, sizes, weights, and resistance and seeing which fall fastest. I think this would be a great book to own, and maybe pick one a week to do.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kandice

    I love nature and tend to spend a great deal of time outdoors. Heck, I'm scrambling to write this review before I am on the dark side of the internet moon while camping later today. This summer, some friends and I put together a little "nature club" for our kids (ages 1-6). I picked up this little book from the library hoping it would spark some ideas and activities for our little ones. Unfortunately, I wasn't inspired because I think most of the 52 activities have been done naturally with our k I love nature and tend to spend a great deal of time outdoors. Heck, I'm scrambling to write this review before I am on the dark side of the internet moon while camping later today. This summer, some friends and I put together a little "nature club" for our kids (ages 1-6). I picked up this little book from the library hoping it would spark some ideas and activities for our little ones. Unfortunately, I wasn't inspired because I think most of the 52 activities have been done naturally with our kids. Many reviewers have stated that this book is not for the outdoor enthusiast, but rather for families looking to devote more time to the great outdoors. I totally agree. If you're already a nature lover, don't bother reading this book because you could have written it. However, if you haven't spent much time outside with your kiddos, this book will get you off to a great start.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kristen Gebbia

    Save your time. The whole book can be boiled down to this: "Go outside and look around." Or, alternatively: "Let your kids do what kids do naturally when you don't allow them to sit in front of electronics all day." One idea (out of 52) that I did like: naming the full moons after something significant/traditional you do as a family that month. Save your time. The whole book can be boiled down to this: "Go outside and look around." Or, alternatively: "Let your kids do what kids do naturally when you don't allow them to sit in front of electronics all day." One idea (out of 52) that I did like: naming the full moons after something significant/traditional you do as a family that month.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nichole

    A must own for parents! This book is broken down, by season, into short activities with fun facts about animals/insects/weather with each activity. As I was reading I noticed how many things children just do naturally but that as an adult I forget or overlook. The book reminded me how simple it is to discover and observe nature and to appreciate all of the wonder that surrounds us each day! I will definitely keep this book on hand as a reminder that there never has to be a dull moment when you'r A must own for parents! This book is broken down, by season, into short activities with fun facts about animals/insects/weather with each activity. As I was reading I noticed how many things children just do naturally but that as an adult I forget or overlook. The book reminded me how simple it is to discover and observe nature and to appreciate all of the wonder that surrounds us each day! I will definitely keep this book on hand as a reminder that there never has to be a dull moment when you're outside with your kids!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    the only thing I don't like about this book is how it tells what specific skills your child is "supposed" to be learning with each activity, for example: "stimulates observation skills and awareness of and curiosity about the living world". it feels like this was added by an editor to satisfy all the baby einstein parents, when the whole message of the book is to allow your child to enjoy and discover nature in a joyful way, not to satisfy some lesson plan. the only thing I don't like about this book is how it tells what specific skills your child is "supposed" to be learning with each activity, for example: "stimulates observation skills and awareness of and curiosity about the living world". it feels like this was added by an editor to satisfy all the baby einstein parents, when the whole message of the book is to allow your child to enjoy and discover nature in a joyful way, not to satisfy some lesson plan.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sarah (Workaday Reads)

    As the title suggests, this books provides 52 project ideas to introduce children to nature. The description does mention the projects are "open-ended", but to me, I found them too vague. The projects included things like searching for rocks of varying shapes and sizes; puddle splashing; and stargazing. These are all worthwhile activites, however I was expecting more detailed projects. This would be a good book for families who don't get outside much, and want to start with basic activities. It wo As the title suggests, this books provides 52 project ideas to introduce children to nature. The description does mention the projects are "open-ended", but to me, I found them too vague. The projects included things like searching for rocks of varying shapes and sizes; puddle splashing; and stargazing. These are all worthwhile activites, however I was expecting more detailed projects. This would be a good book for families who don't get outside much, and want to start with basic activities. It would also be good for slightly older children would be able to better comprehend and understand some of the science-based discussions the book promotes. If you have young children, it would just as easy to go outside, let something capture their attention, and go from there. Most of the discussions are too advanced for little kids, and the actual actions are things they will likely do on their own without any prompting.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tudor Ciocarlie

    Some great activities in here.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Bittle

    Great ideas for getting outside with your children and spending time outside.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sahar Pirmoradian

    This book contains simple and clear instructions for parents or caregivers to enhance the awareness and understanding of the kids about the nature around them by asking engaging questions. It is divided to various chapters on trees, birds, leaves, ..., providing hints on what questions we could ask our kids to enhance their curiosity and attention about a particular phenomenon. For example, when it comes to birds, we can ask our kids to pay attention to the size of the birds, the differences bet This book contains simple and clear instructions for parents or caregivers to enhance the awareness and understanding of the kids about the nature around them by asking engaging questions. It is divided to various chapters on trees, birds, leaves, ..., providing hints on what questions we could ask our kids to enhance their curiosity and attention about a particular phenomenon. For example, when it comes to birds, we can ask our kids to pay attention to the size of the birds, the differences between songs they sing, their colors, or the form of their beaks. If you are already a conscious human being about the amazing, simple natural phenomena around you, you may already know most of the contents in the book. However, if you need a poke to enhance your awareness, thus your kid’s awareness and curiosity, about nature, this book would be very useful.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Madison

    I picked this up seeking inspiration for getting myself and my children into nature. The book is divided into seasonal activities that introduce a variety of topics. Some of the ideas are impractical for California, but for the most part there are great ideas to spring from. This book is aimed for younger children with parent direction.

  12. 4 out of 5

    susie

    The first of a series of books written by Jennifer Ward and illustrated by me, aiming to inspire families to spend more time in nature & the outdoors. The second book (Let's Go Outside) is due out later this year. The first of a series of books written by Jennifer Ward and illustrated by me, aiming to inspire families to spend more time in nature & the outdoors. The second book (Let's Go Outside) is due out later this year.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    This is a nice book for parents who want ideas and suggestions for spending time in nature with their kids. Learning made fun.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sorento62

    I Love Dirt! would be a great book for a teacher or kid's group leader who wants to lead kids in semi-structured outdoor activities. But what's really important is just to spend time outside. And generally, the more unstructured or child-led that time is, the better. The book does encourage going outside, observing something, and giving a mini science lesson based on what you and the child you are with have observed. This is good as far as it goes, but again, I think what's even better to strive I Love Dirt! would be a great book for a teacher or kid's group leader who wants to lead kids in semi-structured outdoor activities. But what's really important is just to spend time outside. And generally, the more unstructured or child-led that time is, the better. The book does encourage going outside, observing something, and giving a mini science lesson based on what you and the child you are with have observed. This is good as far as it goes, but again, I think what's even better to strive for is for kids to be outdoors on their own when possible.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Colleen

    Activity ideas separated by season. I think this book would be best with 6-9 year olds. The activities are easy, not much prep, if any, required so I would consider it open and go. A lot of them are things some kids may naturally do in nature if they're used to being outside (which a lot of kids aren't these days so they might need more adult guidance which this book provides) but it's nice to have for when your mind goes blank and the question prompts keep the discussion going. Activity ideas separated by season. I think this book would be best with 6-9 year olds. The activities are easy, not much prep, if any, required so I would consider it open and go. A lot of them are things some kids may naturally do in nature if they're used to being outside (which a lot of kids aren't these days so they might need more adult guidance which this book provides) but it's nice to have for when your mind goes blank and the question prompts keep the discussion going.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Carrie Froese

    This is a great book for parents and educators of young children. Great ideas organized by season to get kids out and active in nature. Foreward by Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods. My nephew and his partner are celebrating their son's first birthday in October. They are getting this book :) This is a great book for parents and educators of young children. Great ideas organized by season to get kids out and active in nature. Foreward by Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods. My nephew and his partner are celebrating their son's first birthday in October. They are getting this book :)

  17. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Krieger

    This is a great book for families with younger children or families who are trying to spend more time outside. I love the variety of activities categorized by season as well as the lists of questions, scavenger hunts, and things to look for. If you’re a family that’s already spending a lot of time outside, this may open up some new ideas if you’re in a rut.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Erica

    I thought I was going to get ideas from this other than- Take your kid outside and hike. We already do this. We already talk about everything we are seeing and play with all the dirt, leaves, and trees.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tasha

    The activities in this book are geared toward younger children. It would have been nice if there was a recommended age range for each activity, or if there had a been a few more activites that older kids would enjoy

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    3.5 stars

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Any old science class or farm school has this stuff covered.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tracy

    Quick and straightforward read with lots of great and realistic ideas for enjoying nature with your little ones. I was able to make a list of things to try.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Calley Boucaud

    Lots of great ideas to get you and your child(ren) exploring nature.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Carole

    Great ideas for infusing nature inquiry into each day.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Susan Strayer

    52 Easy outdoor activities for kids

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ellen Kehs

    This would be a great book to own and pull out for a weekly activity. The activities are short, give probing questions. This would be great for those days when the kids are bored.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl Hopkins

    use with the grandkids

  28. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Shreve

    A quick read. Wanted to read for more suggestions of playing outside. For those that never okay outside or experienced play in nature...I guess this would be a good book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Annette

    I've always been interested in nature, environmental education, and place-based learning. I've even co-authored an article called Geocaching with Kids in Taproot: Journal for Education in the Outdoors, so I was thrilled to receive a LibraryThing Early Reviewer copy of "I Love Dirt: 42 activities to help you & your kids discover the wonders of nature". In her introduction, Jennifer Ward calls on parents, educators, and caregivers to spend time outdoors in nature.[return][return]When I was growing I've always been interested in nature, environmental education, and place-based learning. I've even co-authored an article called Geocaching with Kids in Taproot: Journal for Education in the Outdoors, so I was thrilled to receive a LibraryThing Early Reviewer copy of "I Love Dirt: 42 activities to help you & your kids discover the wonders of nature". In her introduction, Jennifer Ward calls on parents, educators, and caregivers to spend time outdoors in nature.[return][return]When I was growing up in the 1960s kids played outdoors. Climbing trees, exploring ditches, and playing spy games were part of growing up. When the weather was nice, I didn't come back inside until the call for supper. As a strong advocate of the current "No Child Left Inside" movement, Ward's book is very timely.[return][return]Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv stressed the urgent need to encourage parents and children to go outside. Louv provides a wonderful Forward to Ward's book noting that "children and parents learn to observe, as well as appreciate, the basic joys of getting their hands dirty and feet wet" (p. xii).[return][return]Jennifer Ward's delightful book uses the four seasons as a way to organize nature-based activities. Each activity includes background information, resource ideas, directions, and a learning outcome.[return][return]In the Spring section, Ward recommends bird watching. Activities include creating a bird checklist and keeping a nature journal. She also shares the joy of jumping in spring puddles.[return][return]Activities for Summer include creating a butterfly garden, exploring water, and arranging a backyard camp-out. Families are encouraged to enjoy the sounds of the night and the light of the moon.[return][return]Fall is one of my favorite times of year. Ward notes that Fall is a wonderful time to take indoor activities outside. Science topics such as clouds, camouflage and inquiry are woven into many of the lessons. [return][return]From snow activities to stargazing, Ward provides a wealth of ideas for getting outside in winter. She encourages readers to use their imagination wondering about what animals have made the tracks in the snow or who lives in the burrow in the ground.[return][return]From the conversational approach to the attractive line drawings, this book is great for anyone looking for ways to enjoy the natural world. In particular, parents who are new to nature activities will find basic information and ideas for explaining nature to young people. By stressing questioning, observation, and simple hands-on activities, Ward has provided a practical approach even the most nature-phobic parent can feel comfortable trying with children.[return][return]Those who already enjoy nature with their children are likely to find the book lacking. The Q&A sections are light on information and many of the activities could use more detail. If you already spend time in nature, there are a wealth of other books that provide much more depth. On the other hand, if you're one of the millions of young parents who didn't play outside as a child, this book gives you great ideas to get started exploring the wonders of nature with your own children[return][return]Unfortunately, the advanced copy of the book only contains 60 of the 144 pages, so it's hard to say whether all of the activities are as engaging as the sample pages provided. I'm hoping that I'll be as excited when I see the complete text.[return][return]UPDATE -[return]I've had a chance to read the final, complete version of the book. The activities make much more sense when read within the context of each season chapter. Having seen all of the activities, the audience of this book is more likely to be parents or grandparents of young children. People with experience working with young people in nature may find the book a bit basic, however those new to nature will find a wealth of ideas for making the natural world come alive for young children. Regardless of whether you live in an urban or rural area, use this book to discover the wonders of nature.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Bearman

    For more books reviews and other fun things check out Learning Bear Podcast on YouTube! "I love dirt!" by Jennifer Ward is a great introduction to nature and going outdoors if it is new for you. The book is conveniently broken into seasons and has lessons for those days that are not sunny. There are 52 activities among the four seasons. The book is the perfect size, shape, make, and weight for a backpack or even a large pocket. This book, as is, is excellent for taking little children outside (pr For more books reviews and other fun things check out Learning Bear Podcast on YouTube! "I love dirt!" by Jennifer Ward is a great introduction to nature and going outdoors if it is new for you. The book is conveniently broken into seasons and has lessons for those days that are not sunny. There are 52 activities among the four seasons. The book is the perfect size, shape, make, and weight for a backpack or even a large pocket. This book, as is, is excellent for taking little children outside (preschool through second grade). As they age, a nature journal for the children to sketch, write, and collect their experiences would be an wondrous accompaniment. Spring Activities: High Points: There are lessons for both sunny and rainy days. This is an important reminder throughout the book: nature does not stop when the sun goes away. There are many 21st century skills covered in this book, a must have for teachers thinking of using this book to support their classrooms. Low Points: This book is a little basic for the intermediate explorer, the information is very simple. BUT, if you are new to nature exploration, then this book is a perfect introduction because it is simple, easy to read, and has excellent discussion questions. Summer Activities: High Points: There are daytime and nighttime activities, in addition to rainy day activities. She discusses dirt in a few lessons, something we take for granted and do not fully understand. I wish there was more detail about soil/dirt, but I understand the limitations for this book. Low Points: I am always skeptical about animal feeding. If done too much we train animals to rely on us instead of their instincts for food. Moreover, much of what we feed them is not nutritional for the birds and that is a problem. Fall Activities: High Point: I love that this section includes activities about wind and gravity. The book is so thoughtful and thorough. Low Point: There is an activity about playing with pill bugs. Again, I have a problem with messing with wildlife, no matter how careful you or the children are when doing so. More information can be observed by just watching than poking or spinning them in a circle. Winter Activities: High Point: I love the winter gardening section and that the author directs you to your community resources. It is important to plant native plants and your Master Gardeners and local experts can help you with that. Low Points: More bird feeding lessons; I have a problem with that. Some activities are to be done in the snow, but many places do not see snow, so these will be moot for many. Hopefully, they will go back to fall/summer/spring activities they did not do and find some way to use them. Overall: The book is exceptionally thorough, basic (perfect for newcomers!), and pleasantly reminds everyone that nature does not stop when it is cold, wet, muddy, dark, etc. I wish there were more games; most of the book is observational. But I understand the limitations of this book. I do not like the feeding of wildlife. My only serious note is that I would like the skills/experience statements from the end of the lesson at the beginning. This tells the adult what to expect for that lesson. This would be more helpful at the beginning rather than the end. Despite my issues, I give it 100%. For the average person and not the environmental educator, this book is perfect. It asks all of the right questions and takes students of all ages outdoors to experience the world around them. And that is the goal of every environmental educator.

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