Friday, January 12, 2018

Nature Book Club for Adults

I have hosted a nature centered book group, along with others, for the last several years. We've had a lot of opportunities to read books on nature! Here is our list, plus a few wild parenting books I enjoy. We found that meeting every other month worked best for us. We also liked mixing up some nature related fiction with the heavier non-fiction books on our list. We also would just have a topic at times and each person chose an article or book related to the topic. We all brought ideas to our meeting near the end of the year and looked up reviews on Amazon, trying to balance out local books, seasonal books, books on particular topics, etc., while getting something everyone was interested in. Checking the local library for availability is helpful. What are your favorite nature books for adults?

"Wild" Parenting Books
There's No Such Thing as Bad Weather by Linda McGurk
Balanced and Barefoot by Angela Hanscom
How to Raise a Wild Child by Dr. Scott Sampson
Play the Forest School Way by Peter Houghton and Jane Worroll
Beyond Ecophobia by David Sobel
Wild Play: Parenting Adventures in the Great Outdoors by David Sobel
Handbook of Nature Study
Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv
Whatever the Weather
Coyote's Guide to Connecting with Nature

Ranger Confidential: Living, Working, and Dying in the National Parks
Plain ol' Charlie Deam
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power
Lab Girl
In the Watershed: A Journey Down the Maumee River
Anything on Pollinators

any book on vernal pools
Wandering Home
Hidden Life of Trees
Braiding Sweetgrass
The Snow Child

JanThe Daily Coyote, Shreve Stockton
FebGuide to Caves and Karsts in Indiana
Mar. Natural Heritage of Indiana
Apr. The Secret Life of Backyard Bugs
May Any Foxfire book
June 100 Heartbeats, Jeff Corwin
July What the Robin Knows
Aug. Gray Mountain, John Grisham
Sept. The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs
Oct. A Walk in the Woods, Bryson
Nov. Birdology, Sy Montgomery
Dec. Voices in the Ocean, Casey
Past Nature Reads
Guide to Nature in Winter by Donald and Lillian Stokes
Anthill by E.O. Wilson
Moonbird by Phillip Hoose
any book about wildflowers
Lost Woods by Rachel Carson
Great Possessions: An Amish Farmer’s Journal by David Kline and Wendell Berry
Tom Brown’s Field Guide to Nature Observation and Tracking
Living on the Wind: Across the Hemisphere with Migratory Birds by Scott Weidensaul
Autumn: Season of Change by Peter Marchand
Running Dry: A Journey From Source to Sea Down the Colorado River by Jonathan Waterman
The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature by David Haskell
any book about nature photography, such as Ansel Adams, John Shaw, Muench, etc.
Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv
Bringing Nature Home by Douglas W. Tallamy
A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Mammals of the Great Lakes Region by Allen Kurta
Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter
(included a field trip to the state historic site with a tour of her gardens and home)
Life in the Soil by James B. Nardi
The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan
America as Seen by its First Explorers: The Eyes of Discovery by John Bakeless
Never Cry Wolf: Amazing True Story of Life Among Arctic Wolves by Farley Mowat
Keepers of the ___________ by Michael J. Caduto and Joseph Bruchac
(Native American traditional stories, combined with ways to teach nature and environmental education. We’ll all read one chapter of one of the books to present and share.)
Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival by Bernd Heinrich
Walden: (Or Life in the Woods) by Henry David Thoreau
Alone: The Journey of the Boy Sims by Alan K. Garinger
The Bluebird Effect: Uncommon Bonds with Common Birds by Julie Zickefoose
The Dunes, any book based loosely on the Indiana Dunes, such as Dune Country: A Hiker’s Guide To The Indiana Dunes, The Dune CountryDune Boy: The Early Years of a Naturalist, or Diana of the Dunes (IN): The True Story of Alice Gray.
The Trees by Conrad Richter
Pond and Brook: A Guide to Nature in Freshwater Environments by Michael J. Caduto
A Conservationist Manifesto by Scott Russel Sanders
The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age by Richard Louv
Wild Edibles–You Pick!
A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Eastern and central North America (Peterson Field Guides)Stalking The Wild Asparagus
The Forager’s Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants
The Herb Book
Dawn Light: Dancing with Cranes and Other Ways to Start the Day by Diane Ackerman
Any book by John Muir–You pick!
Art of the Earth: Ancient Arts for a Green Future by Elizabeth Hyatt or other Environmental Art related book

This post contains affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, thanks for helping me buy an extra book or two. 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Loose Parts Professional Development Books

I am an avid reader and LOVE having resources that help me imagine possibilities. I thought it would be great to compile a list of Loose Parts related professional development books. I can think of various avenues to explore here.

These are the basic loose parts books I like for educators/parents. I have all of these (except for the one coming out soon). Each has it's own focus and strength.

This focuses on various topics such a senses, creativity, action, and inquiry, with subtopics for each of these themes. This is a very visually stimulating book.

This follow up book looks specifically at the younger crowd. It focuses on different schema in children's play centered on object exploration, assembly exploration, instrumental exploration, locomotion, and action. Each schema topic has several subtopics, such as throwing, trajectory, pretending, constructing. Once again, great visual ideas throughout the book.

This is coming out in Spring 2018, looking at creating a sense of belonging, helping support a child's identity, and shows cultural sustainability. It focuses on aesthetic,  authenticity, equity, dynamic, praxis, and critical reflection.

This is a unique approach highlighting one classroom's journey in collecting "stuff" from families. Each child brought in a lunch bag of found items from their homes and went through a process of sorting, categorizing, conversing, and using the materials in art and play in the classroom. The book shares a sample letter to families and the documentation process. this is a Reggio based approach. While I find it has an older feel to the book, the information and process is solid. 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Exploring Magnetism as Loose Parts

As part of looking more at Nicholson's Theory of Loose Parts, we have been exploring other aspects of it, such as light, music, and even magnetism. We all like to "play, experiment, discover, invent and have fun"! There are many, many ways to explore magnetism. Some of our favorite ways are magnetic blocks, such as Tegu Blocks or Magformers. We also really liked those smaller magnet rods with metal balls--we started buying some like this before we had kids. These were our toys! We also have just gotten a large variety of magnets for exploration. We have a "magnet" bin, with lots of options. It's made of metal so especially fun. Our front door is also magnetic, so we do plenty with magnetism there. 

I still remember my then 3 year old figuring out there was metal in the corners of the walls at the hospital when we'd been there a few too many times to visit my husband. I didn't know about the metal forms to keep good corners either! Yet he found them with our Magformers. We also like nuts, bolts, and other magnetic (and non magnetic) metal pieces paired with magnets. We get all the metal by the pound at our local ReStore and add in good magnets, including a variety of strengths. Magnetic fun is a quick way we explore on the go. How do you explore magnetism and loose parts? What are the variables? 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Light Painting

I recently found the series The New Creatives on BYUtv, watching it with my tinker loving sons (ages 5-11). We have REALLY enjoyed it, watching all the episodes quickly and more than once. With a focus on creativity, the show highlights an artist, gives a collaborative project, and ends with a challenge for us the viewers. Each episode encourages us, “Don’t just watch stuff, make stuff” (Peterson & Craig, 2017). One episode highlights Patrick Rochon, a light painter. To me, this approach falls right in line with loose parts play (Read my summary of Nicholson's article here. ! Here is one of my favorite definitions of creativity by Simon Nicholson.

Rochon finds and makes his own light “tools”. He uses modified flashlights, light sabers, light wands, and gels and filters, to experiment with light. He captures the trace of light and body movement through prolonged exposure camera techniques (Peterson & Craig, 2017).

The New Creatives episode gives us the viewer the challenge to try our own light painting. As part of the episode, Rochon gives a tutorial, listing needed items and tips.
  • DSLR camera with tripod that can do prolonged exposure. There are also many smartphone apps for light painting (Pablo, Slow Shutter, Light Paint, Holographium).
  • Multiple light sources—flashlights, toys, glow sticks, etc. Get creative! Try three dimensional tools to add shapes and textures. (Here are some we are trying, though our first ones we got were just at our Dollar General and Dollar Tree).  Multicolor Light Wands LED Foam Light Sticks Lollipop Light Wands LED Globe Light Wands LED Finger Lights  (affiliate links)
  • Dark clothes help you blend into the darkness.
  • Turn off the lights! A dark room or outside space away from lights is ideal. 
  • Set the camera for an open shutter of several seconds (we did 4) of prolonged exposure. Start the camera (a remote works well if you want to be involved). Make movement with the light. Try other movements. Review your light art on the camera screen.
  •  Let go! Experiment. Try new ways of movement.  (Peterson & Craig, 2017).

This last bit reminds me most of loose parts! The light, darkness, movement, and various tools become the variables to explore, experiment, play, discover, and have fun with. 

We first accepted the challenge when we had a bunch of preteen and teen boys playing Capture the Flag in the dark. They all were armed with glow sticks! It was a perfect opportunity. My husband quickly set up a camera on a tripod and off went the lights. The boys played and danced as the camera captured the movement of light over time. We took a break to explore their work and started again. What a fun creative experience! It was quick, inexpensive, and gratifying.

We next tried the concept at Wellfield Botanic Gardens in Elkhart, Indiana, as they hosted their first winter lights display this year. As part of my volunteer work there, I brought in a variety of activities such as nature art, stick building, outdoor STEM loose parts, and a display on animals in winter.  We also thought it was a perfect time to explore light painting with the public. My 11-year-old son became our ight painting tutor and cameraman. He quickly explained light painting, let people choose lights, took pictures with the camera set for prolonged exposure while the people explored light, and then shared the results with the participants. He really enjoyed the shock of the people as they saw their light painting creations. My younger boys were also there and analyzed their own results and how others created unique effects, ready to try new movement and lights next time. We posted the pictures in the online event page. It was great fun! 
                  We really enjoyed exploring light as a loose part! It was inexpensive and easy to set up and explore since we already had a camera. The New Creatives episode on light painting is visually appealing and a great tutorial for the basic process. We think you might enjoy light painting as well!

Peterson, J. (Writer), & Craig, A. & Peterson, J. (Directors). (July 26, 2017). Patrick Rochon [Television Series Episode]. In Cook, J. R. & Cook, A. S. (Producers), The New Creatives. Provo, UT: BYUtv

Interested in other light painters? Check out this inspiration!
Other websites:
Light Painting Photography
Light Painting Tutorials

This post contains affiliate links. thanks for ordering through these links if you are interested to help support good content at no cost to you. 

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Here are some other things that look cool!

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