Monthly Archives: December 2011

Books for the intermediate reader

books about nature

It’s time for the second installment of outdoor and nature books for children!  Unlike the first list, this list is books that kids can read to themselves, or that you can read together on long car rides; much like the first list, these are books you (and your kids) will enjoy reading.  Many of these books are ones that I read as a kid… ones that I could not put down, and thought about for weeks afterwards.  These are the books that made me love reading.



It’s interesting how the subject of outdoor/nature books changes as the audience’s age-range changes.  In the list of books we posted a few weeks ago of books you can read to your child, there seemed to be a focus on natural observations–noticing the changing of the seasons, enjoying a winter walk, the animals that live near a water hole.  As kids age, the books about nature start to focus on surviving in nature–the emphasis changes so that it isn’t so much about appreciating nature, but using it.  This isn’t all intermediate nature-ish readers, but many of them.  I would be interested in your thoughts on why…  I threw in several books about animals, another theme common in newer as well as classic children’s stories.

And now, to the list! (more…)

Holiday in the Sunshine

I don’t have a post prepared for today. Like most of you I’m enjoying time with family… with a little southern Utah scenery thrown in there. Therefore, I present a few photos from the past few days outside adventures.

Hope you all are also enjoying a sunshine laden holiday season.


Traditions: Often weird, always wonderful

Family Rock Hunting TripI love traditions.  I love the anticipation.  Knowing what’s going to happen next.  Sharing something with friends and family.  Having an activity that is unique to us.  It makes me proud.  Happy.  It makes me want to hug the world.  My family has always been big on traditions, though we never said as much out loud.  But our traditions were never… shall we say… normal.  They weren’t the same traditions everybody else had.

At Christmas time, our neighbors placed blow up reindeer in their front yards, they set waving cardboard Santas near their smokeless chimneys, and they put out enough lights to make our street look like an air force landing strip.  Our house looked like a black hole in comparison.  My sister and I yearned to decorate something. My mother had a pitiful looking Norwegian Pine; I think it wanted to die but my mom intervened just regularly enough to keep it living, but sorrowful.  The poor thing never grew to more than three feet tall and frequently struggled just to maintain a sense of Tree.  It was often more brown than green.  Since an entire strand of lights wouldn’t fit on the miserable thing, we wrapped them around the banister separating the living room from the stairs to the basement instead. We also hung a few colorful ornaments from the prongs on the antelope head that hangs between the living room windows.  The colorful glass globes would reflect in his black plastic eyeballs, giving their normally stoic glare a bit of holiday cheer.  Christmas eve we would turn off the lights, lay on the living room floor, and have intimate conversations with each other while staring at the blinking light patterns on the living room ceiling, and in the eyeballs of the antelope.

It took me a long time to figure out that nobody’s traditions are normal.  If we all did the same thing, it would violate the my sacred definition of Tradition.  I can’t find a good definition of tradition.  Some take it very seriously, and if it isn’t passed down across hundreds of generations and replete with symbolic gestures, phrases, and trinkets, then it doesn’t count… kind of like this.  To me a tradition needs only three things: (more…)

Outdoor teaching mistakes we make with our kids

A few weeks ago I attended a GreenTeacher webinar by Brad Daniel, Professor of Outdoor Education and Environmental Studies at Montreat College. The webinar was entitled Outdoor Teaching Mistakes. The aim was to help participants become better outdoor educators by presenting and discussing a variety of mistakes made by those who teach in the outdoors.

It was a good refresher for me as an educator… and yet I couldn’t help but start to apply this to me as a parent. What mistakes do I make while trying to ‘teach’ my kids in the outdoors? And by ‘teaching’ I mostly mean ‘being’ in the outdoors, and trying not to miss those teachable moments.

Note: Not all of these suggestions for fixing common mistakes have to be incorporated in every outdoor outing, but they are certainly things we should consider in varying degrees as we try to teach our kids the importance of being outside.

1. Silence your cell phone
It’s hard to resist the urge to answer every call or text, even when outside. But each one you respond to represents time in which you pull yourself in and away from the outdoor world–each one represents time missed in the outdoors with your kids; time that would be perfect for showing them the wonders that exist without the use of technology. When I see a status update declaring “out for a hike with my kids”, it makes me wonder… If you’re on your smart phone, what are you showing your kids that you value? How many teachable moments are you missing? (more…)

We have a favor to ask…

With the new year coming and our one year anniversary on the horizon, we figure it’s a good time to make some changes here at Aside from slowly making the website more user friendly we also want to tweak our content a little. Problem is, we’re not really sure the best ways to tweak it.

Our goal is to better meet the needs of our audience, but because this is cyber space, we’re not really sure who our audience is.  Do you have blogs yourselves?  Are your children in high school?  Are you stay at home dads?  Cowgirls?  Retired gymnasts?  Aliens from outer space?  Our inquiring minds yearn to know you better.

This is where the favor comes in. We would be forever grateful if you would take a minute or two from your busy schedules to participate in a little survey. I promise it’s short (ten questions–just check the boxes).  It’s also anonymous, and the results will be extremely useful in guiding our content over the next year.

We appreciate every single one of you. Your comments, your enthusiasm and your patience with us as we stumble our way through the blogosphere. Thank you!

You can find the survey here. Did I mention it’s short…

Outdoor books you can read to your child.

How many of you are familiar with this scenario:

It’s bedtime.  Pajamas are on, kids are clean (enough), and last sips of juice are done.  It’s time to read a book or two before the kids are off to the Land of Nod and you are off to watch the Walking Dead.  They pick out three books for you to read them and lay them ceremoniously before you.

“What was that noise?” asks your little one.

“What noise?” you say.

“That horrible whining groan I just heard come out of your throat.  And why is your face all pinchy?”  they ask.

Because laid before you are three boring, silly, horribly unentertaining books, picked up by you on a whim the last time you were at the library book sale.  Books you’ve regretted ever since.  Books your child, for some inexplicable reason, loves.  We feel your pain.  Especially the pain that comes from finishing one of these offenders only to hear your young one say: “Again!”.

We humbly present to you our top ten most favoritest read-aloud kids books.  We picked books that are as much fun for you to read as they are for your child to hear.  Elaborate and entertaining illustrations, carefully constructed rhymes or lyrical prose, and themes that focus on the natural world.  These are the sort of books that you finish and slam shut with some flourish, wanting to say ‘aaah, that was good’… and then wait (hopefully) for that tiny voice beside you: “Again!”.  Many of these are books that a beginning reader can follow along or read to you. (more…)

Outdoor- and Nature- Themed Baby Names

You may not have known I was pregnant for several reasons.

  1. You can’t see me so you couldn’t tell I that was already having problems tying my shoes.
  2. It never really came up in a blog post. “Today on the blog we’ll be discussing leftover turkey recipes. Do turkeys ever get pregnant you may wonder, because I’m pregnant.” See, just awkward.
  3. With a couple miscarriages under my belt, I take my time on making baby announcements.

Now to answer all the usual questions that come after making such an announcement.

  1. How far along are you? Just made it past the 1/2 way mark. 21 weeks, due in April.
  2. Do you know what your having? A girl. Yes, the most shocking phrase I’ve ever heard is “I don’t see a turtle”, which is apparently ultrasound tech lingo for: ‘you’re having a girl’.
  3. How was the first trimester? Not that great. Should have known it was a girl.
  4. What are you going to name her? Well, I’m glad you asked!

Because yes, now comes the task of naming this child, and just as we have with every child, the terms outdoor- and nature- themed baby names ends up in a google search. So I present to you a list of some such baby names we’ve come across, and of course you can go all Idaho and spell them however you want…

Also, what’d I miss? Any outdoorsy name suggestions I can add to the list? If so, leave them in the comments! (more…)

How a picnic dinner turned into a lesson on being lost, at night.

I often feel the impulse to head out for an evening picnic dinner, ever since Melissa first suggested it on her blog back in May. Last week I was feeling a bit more picnic-adventurous than usual… My plan was to pull the kids in the sled up the Tahoe Rim Trail, watch the sunset over Lake Tahoe while we cooked dinner, and hike back down with headlamps. The first part of my plan went beautifully. We got there in time to see the sunset, we cooked a delicious pot of mac’n’cheese, followed by a couple cups of hot cocoa, and the kids had a ball crawling all over the rocks. Soon after dark we decided to head back down the trail. Well, let me rephrase that, we headed back down ‘a trail’. (more…)


    I'm Lindsey. I'm an environmental educator, my husband's a biologist. The outdoors is infused into everything we do; which explains why I'm better at mud pies than home decorating. More About Me

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