December 2011

Nature Kaleidoscope

Anyone who's had the pleasure of sitting in a meadow in the springtime or taking a walk through a butterfly garden knows that the colors and wonders of nature are truly amazing. Creatures big and small, plant and animal, come in so many dazzling shapes, colors and sizes, the world is truly a work of art when you stop to smell the roses.

Appreciating the artistic flair of the outdoors' natural beauties can really be inspiring to children and adults alike. I think that's what makes Lee Anne Snozek's coloring book, Nature Kaleidoscope so appealing. She's taken the natural beauty of flora and fauna and drawn it into amazing kaleidoscope-like images to be colored by parent, child, teacher and student.

I bought this coloring book for my kids and found my wife and I enjoying it just as much, if not more. Snozek's choices of animals and flowers run the gamut from beetles to sunflowers, and are artistically combined in stunning designs.

My kids love to color the different animals and insects realistically, so if we aren't sure what colors to choose, we help them look the little creatures up on the Internet or in books and magazines. It's a lot of fun and my kids are learning about nature's beauty at the same time.

Strange But True Animals

When I was a kid, I loved the strange and a macabre. It's just always been a part of who I am. I remember watching an episode of Jeff Corwin show and he talked about an amazing creature called the aye-aye.

This amazing creature is a lemur that eats ants located in the hollowed areas of trees. What makes this animal unique is that he as one digit on his finger that is longer than the others. He uses it to knock on the wood to find the places where the ants live.

He then creates a hole and uses the extra long digit to scoop out the ants and eat them. Ever since then, the aye-aye has been my favorite strange animal in nature. So imagine my thrill when I came across “Strange But True Animals” by Lori Polydoros, which featured the aye-aye on the cover. I immediately bought it and brought it home for my perusal.

The Nature Connection: An Outdoor Workbook for Kids, Families and Classrooms

All three of my sons enjoy being outside, but my eldest is especially interested in the world around him. When we go to a new park or spend time out in the country at my in-laws' house, he's constantly poking around the gardens or looking for animals or bugs. He is a natural naturalist. Going outside isn't only fun for running and playing, as far as he's concerned, it's an opportunity for adventure and discovery.

We love that he's so interested in nature and try to encourage him to take his time discovering the world around him. Not only is he constantly learning, but it makes him want to take care of the environment and share it with others, too.

Now that he's older and can read and write, we want to get him into journaling his outdoor nature adventures. We thought about just getting him a blank journal, but because he's still fairly young, we thought a journal with prompts and ideas would be more appropriate. We wanted something that would challenge him to think about things a little differently or observe them from a variety of perspectives.

First Nature Encyclopedia


When I was a kid, there was no Internet to look up everything and I had to use an archaic form of information called... books. My family had a set of encyclopedias that we got over time from the local grocery store.

I would spend hours just looking through them and leaning everything I could about everything. First Nature Encyclopedia is the nature equivalent of an entire set of encyclopedias. It's only one book, but every question your child will have about nature can be found within its pages.

Books may be a thing of the past, quickly being replaced by e-readers and binary code, that but it's important that children remember that books are still an important part of education. The First Nature Encyclopedia is the perfect book for any child interested in learning about the plants and animals of nature.

Gifts from Nature

If you have a nature nut that loves to craft on your holiday shopping list, you might want to consider getting him or her a cool new book that combines the two. There’s a unique thrill in finding something beautiful in outdoors and turning it into something elegant and ornate for your home. Your friend or loved one will enjoy a nature crafting book all year long.

One such book that I like is Matthew Mead’s book Gifts from Nature. The book has all sorts of cool ideas for every season and from different environments, from the beach to a winter forest. Mead’s amazing eye for natural beauty comes through in all his handsome, but easy to make crafts.

The book has 150 full-color photographs to help you through the collecting and crafting process and the various crafts are separated into sections depending on the season.