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Juliet Robertson "Creative STAR" (Inverurie, Scotland, UK)

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Fed Up with Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World
Fed Up with Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World
by Susan Sachs Lipman
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.76

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Modern-day yet old fashioned fun, 17 Oct 2012
Years ago as a child, I used to have a seasonal craft and activity book with different things to do each month of the year. If I was bored, then my mum, sisters and I would take out the book and do something. Although "Fed up with Frenzy" is not split into months and is aimed at adults rather than children, it has a huge variety of activities which are doable and entertaining linked to different times of the year.

The book is a lovely reminder about past games and activities. For example there are skipping chants, clapping games and other playground activities. Team games new games and challenges are also included as well as more traditional activities.

Who is this book for? It's aimed at parents but I think a lot of teachers will find plenty of relevant material in here. The ideas for celebrations are fabulous. They cover tooth fairy pouches, planting trees (along with blessings and poems for trees), cleansing a house for New Year, a wish jar for transition times, various ideas for celebrating the Day of the Dead, etc.

The book is American but I haven't found there to be a great deal of difference. Be prepared - there are no illustrations and it's a traditional paperback novel format yet somehow this doesn't seem to matter. The tone of the book works well - a bit like being given a relaxing massage!


Learning on your doorstep: Stimulating writing through creative play outdoors for ages 5-9 (David Fulton Books)
Learning on your doorstep: Stimulating writing through creative play outdoors for ages 5-9 (David Fulton Books)
by Isabel Hopwood-Stephens
Edition: Paperback
Price: 20.69

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fresh and friendly style with robust ideas and activities, 16 Oct 2012
This book is about stimulating writing through outdoor activities. It has six projects each with six outdoor sessions, ideally suited for a woodland but adaptable to other spaces. The themes include, amongst others, the Enchanted Forest, Celtic Life and Animal World. There is a springboard suggestion to begin each week, a suggested activity to take place in the woodland or outdoor space and ideas for writing activities back in the classroom. Many of the topics involve reading a simple story - which is provided - or receiving and sending messages to various imaginary characters. Most of the activities outside involve an element of reading and practical tasks such as making natural dyes from plants, creating story sticks and building mini shelters. I particularly enjoyed the behaviour advice where it arose as it painted a good picture in my head!

It would suit a class teacher who is looking for a literacy-themed approach to learning outside. The ideas are adaptable for older children - just up the expectations and tweak the activities accordingly.


Nature Kindergartens and Forest Schools
Nature Kindergartens and Forest Schools
by Claire Warden
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A helpful and informative book., 14 Nov 2011
Since becoming a freelance education consultant I've been quite picky and critical of many books about outdoor learning and play because I feel the dots aren't being joined. The role of pre-school education within the context of wider societal issues is often omitted. In particular the need to consider the importance and impact of place.

I can remember opening this book for the first time and feeling a warm glow of satisfaction as I scanned the contents page and lost count of the number of times "place" was mentioned. Furthermore, the theme of the book is about the relationships between people and place and the activities that happen as a consequence of spending extended periods of time in a natural setting. It's about allowing children to make connections and learn through playing and being in nature, all year round and in all weathers. It's about the role of the practitioner to facilitate this through skilled observations of, and interactions with, children.

In Nature Kindergartens, Claire explains the rational and the approach succinctly. The book begins by looking at some of the research into the benefits of children spending time in nature. Next, the influence of Montessori, Froebel, Reggio Emilia and others is considered in relation to the work at the Mindstretchers' nature kindergartens. The importance of collegiality and the development of a warm, family community is highlighted. There are frequent, positive references to similar international examples.

The chapters move on to look at how children need to experience a variety of wild places and lead risk full lives as part of developing their sense of belonging. Playing in wild woods is often more transformational compared with a garden area. However, a sense of wildness can be gained even in a small patch of urban greenspace for young children. The concept of affordances is examined. The abundance of large and small open-ended materials for play makes natural areas a place that stimulates creativity, imagination and deep thinking about many issues, especially around sustainability and caring for the world in which we live.

Finally Claire stresses the need to allow for time. This is where nature kindergartens add so much value that other nature-based approaches do not. Being outside, daily, all-year round in all weathers in natural settings allows children to make connections at their own pace, to take the time to absorb, process, reflect and re-visit ideas and concepts at a depth which simply isn't possible in a once-a-week visit to a nearby wood.

Time to rethink pre-school provision here in the UK? Yes. And this book will help everyone do this.


Asphalt to Ecosystems: Design Ideas for Schoolyard Transformation
Asphalt to Ecosystems: Design Ideas for Schoolyard Transformation
by Sharon Gamson Danks
Edition: Paperback
Price: 23.51

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you want to develop your school grounds then buy this book, 15 Feb 2011
This book was my hidden find of 2010. "Asphalt to Ecosystems" uses international examples to provide ideas and inspiration for any educator, parent, governor or landscape designer who is looking to transform school grounds.

So what's special about this book?

- The beautiful photos illustrate the text nicely and for tired brains, provide food for the soul as well as the mind
- It fits in nicely with the Eco Schools award scheme in that the themes are similar. So school grounds improvement can really demonstrate a school's commitment to sustainable development and education
- There is attention to detail
- UK schools are mentioned and photographed too

The main grumble is holding onto the book. I keep lending it to schools and nurseries. I need to get another copy so I've always got one for myself.


Beware Dangerism! (Kindle Single) (TED Books)
Beware Dangerism! (Kindle Single) (TED Books)
Price: 1.27

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A short sharp read!, 30 Jan 2011
This book is a useful summary of key issues around perceived risks and dangers in our society. It is a quick read with simple quotes and statistics. As I work outdoors with children and teachers, I'm constantly faced with fears and concerns. Having the book on Kindle means it's easy for me to show and hopefully alleviate some of the worries of those who work with children.


Mission Explore
Mission Explore
by Geography Collective
Edition: Paperback

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best alternative geography book published, 18 April 2010
This review is from: Mission Explore (Paperback)
This book is not for the faint-hearted. It is full of challenging missions that will test all previously held assumptions about geography and take you into unexplored territory, possibly in your mind, rather than in your local neighbourhood.

I thought the book was very witty, well-written and full of original ideas to get children over 10 yrs of age out exploring. My own 13 yr old son thought some of the missions were very challenging and better for teenagers older than himself. He sat on the sofa chuckling away for a full half an hour reading the book. He's not especially keen on reading, so that says a lot about the layout and attractiveness of the book. It's pocket-sized and handy for taking out and about.

If you are a teacher looking for activities that dovetail nicely into your Geography curriculum, you will be disappointed. If you are looking for some doorstep ideas to liven up looking at maps and getting children to take an active interest in what's happening in the world around them, then this is a good book to buy. Some of the suggestions may even make your homework list.This book would definitely suit home-educated children.

What I also liked was the opportunity is to preview quite a bit of the book on the Mission Explore website and on their YouTube video. So I knew what I was buying. My favourite missions are:
- Seeing how far I can walk whilst sucking a mint.
- Getting some OAPs to hang out in hoodies on the street
- Leaving a chair in a park and watching to see what people do.


Kids in the Garden: Growing Plants for Food and Fun
Kids in the Garden: Growing Plants for Food and Fun
by Elizabeth McCorquodale
Edition: Paperback

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The children's gardening book of 2010, 30 Mar 2010
I have seen a lot of children's gardening books in my time. Many of them are very good and "Kids in the Garden" is up there with the best. This is what I particularly liked:

1) Using organic methods, reusing waste materials and taking account of "green" issues is incorporated into all aspects of the book without moralising or making a big deal of these matters. For example how to compost, mulch, save seeds and garden for wildlife are covered. A diversity of plants is also advocated such as growing different types of beans or tomatoes, etc.

2) There are some clever ideas - using a buried teapot to provide a home for bees and a planting plan for a square foot garden with a trellis are two I particularly liked.

3) The book is suitable for adults who work with children or for older children. The photos are bright and attractive, the layout clear and easy to read. My only gripe here is the omission of an index at the back of the book. There are facts and quizzes and jokes which all enhance the advice.

4) The projects are very doable. They are based around plants to grow and recipes in which to use them. For pre-school settings and schools who want to make the connection between the "plot and the plate" then this book is a "must buy". Snack time will never taste so good! A good example here is "beetroot brownies."

The whole book is a motivational read. It promotes gardening as interesting, enjoyable and doable by all. Time to don the gardening gloves and get going...


Fifty Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do)
Fifty Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do)
by Gever Tulley
Edition: Paperback

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dangerously Good, 4 Feb 2010
This book is naughty and fun. It makes the risks explicitly clear in a tongue-in-cheek manner. It begins with licking a 9V battery and continues in a similar vein, discussing the delights of standing on roofs, the challenge of undertaking routine activities with your finger and thumb superglued together and top tips for exploding a bottle in a freezer.

My 13-year old son thought this book was brilliant. My husband panicked. But not for long. After reading it through he declared that the "Diving into a dumpster" was forbidden and was relieved to see that smoking a cigarette was not featured.

Interestingly, the author self-published this book from scratch, demonstrating the "can-do" enterprising ethic from start to finish. I really enjoyed the style and presentation. My reason for not giving this book a 5 star rating is simply that I don't think some of the activities are particularly dangerous if you follow the guidance in the book. But this book would make a good present for a parent or a child over 9 years old.


Free Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had without Going Nuts with Worry: Giving Our Kids the Freedom We Enjoyed Without Going Nuts with Worry
Free Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had without Going Nuts with Worry: Giving Our Kids the Freedom We Enjoyed Without Going Nuts with Worry
by Lenore Skenazy
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving from fear to freedom by removing the bubble wrap around kids, 23 Jan 2010
This book is a funny, liberating mix of fact and opinion. Although it's aimed at parents, anyone who looks after children including childminders and teachers would enjoy this book and find it reassuring. The easy-read style is a relief too. After a hard day's work and putting children to bed a theoretical discussion of the issues would finish most of us!

It's chapters follow 14 commandments for creating free range kids which include titles such as "Eat chocolate", "Turn off the news" and "Ignore the blamers". It gives the reader permission to question absurd assumptions about what is safe or dangerous for children to do.

The conclusion is poignant. It likens children today to housewives of the Fifties who were expected by society to be fulfilled by keeping a home clean and tidy, looking pretty and going "bonkers with boredom". It's a fair point when you realise that many parents do confine children to their homes and gardens without letting them develop independence through letting them walk to school and other places, learning practical skills, etc.

I bought the book after reading Lenore Skenazy's blog which is warm, blunt, opinionated and witty. Amazon.com has 75 book reviews which are overwhelmingly glowing in praise. In fact there's only 1 review that speaks disapprovingly of this book. So buy a copy and feel reassured that you are not the only parent in the world that reckons it might be nice for your 9 year old child to play a game of football in the local park with his friends on his own. And for teachers everywhere who know that children don't need to be kept indoors during wet breaks, let's hand this book out to all parents who enrol their child at your school. Woo-hoo!


Classroom Gems: Games, Ideas and Activities for Learning Outside the Primary Classroom
Classroom Gems: Games, Ideas and Activities for Learning Outside the Primary Classroom
by Paul Barron
Edition: Paperback

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best introductory outdoor learning book for primary school teachers to-date, 12 Dec 2009
It has been a long time since a basic book has been published for primary school teachers giving ideas for outdoor learning. This book is aimed at teachers who want to take their class outside more often and need quick and simple ideas. Here's a quick summary:

1) This is an activity book not an advice book nor one which reflects upon the value of outdoor learning.
2) Many activities will not be new to teachers or outdoor professionals who work a lot with children outside. However the presentation of the material is great and quickly accessible via the index and curriculum areas. It is still well worth buying.
3) Traditional activities such as leaf rubbings are expanded upon in an open-ended and flexible ways. Many of the suggestions are helpful in terms of taking a problem solving approach within an activity that aids high order thinking. I particularly liked the "Pass the Stick" activity.
4) Art, design and technology are a key focus. This is a clear interest of the author. Using digital technology is covered within the activities rather than as a separate section.
5) How to introduce pattern work outdoors is nicely explained. The art of storytelling is succinctly explained in another section. There are some good suggestions around farm visits.

I do not think, given the range of possibilities that exist for taking learning outside, that one book can ever do this subject justice. However this book is a welcome starting point for developing the habit of taking children outside on a frequent, regular basis.


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