Get Outside Book Club

Read about it, talk about it, do it!

DaytonMetroLibrary-logoThe Get Outside Book Club is a Dayton Metro Library and Five Rivers MetroParks program designed for pre-schoolers and their parents. The program takes place September 1 – October 31.

Families with kids pre-k and younger will have tons of fun learning about new ways to explore and play outside. Keep the fun going and create your own adventure around your house or at a local MetroPark. Then go back and read the book again, think about the activities you did as you revisit the characters adventures in the book. Did you do the same things as the character in the book? What did you do differently? Where did you go? The Get Outside Book Club is sure to get your kids playing and having fun as they develop their reading skills while imagining and critically thinking about the different activities they can do.

Top 20 Books

The following books are some of our favorites and help to spark the connection between literature and the outdoors, all while encouraging imaginative play and active lifestyles.

All the Water In The World

BookClub-cover-AllwaterSummary

Faucet, well, raincloud, sea… from each of these comes water. But where does water go? To find out, honey, turn the page, dive in with tongue or toes, with eyes and ears and nose – and wonder at the flow of this great world’s life story.

Activities

Show your child the various states of water: solid ice cubes, liquid water, gas steam. A spray bottle full of water can be loads of outdoor fun at little cost.

At a MetroPark

Five Rivers MetroParks is named after the five rivers that run through Montgomery County and have parks along or near all five. Can you name all five rivers? There are also many other water features located throughout the parks like Englewood MetroPark and its three waterfalls and Sugarcreek MetroPark with its clean slow stream. Come out to any MetroPark and see what water-ways you can find and then come back to see them during the winter to see if they turn into ice.

Outdoor Connection

Water is an important part of our lives and can do some amazing things in order to moving (and transforming states) from the ground to the sky. Take advantage of the abundant water supply in our area and let your kids explore and play with all of the different forms water can take.

Literature Connection

This book is definitely not written like a typical book. Place your fingers next to the words as they are being read aloud to help draw your child’s attention away from the amazing brightly colored pictures, to the unique style and formation of the words. This will help with getting your kids excited about looking for the words on the page and seeing how they make story that much more interesting.

Check out this cool book!

Cloudette

BookClub-cover-CloudetteSummary

Sometimes being small can have its advantages. If you’re a little cloud like Cloudette, people call you cute nicknames, and you can always find a good spot to watch the fireworks. But what about when you want to do something big, like help a giant garden grow, or make a brook babble? This charming book gets at the heart of what it means to make a difference no matter your size. Young children will find much to relate to in Cloudette as they follow her on her pursuit for greatness.

Activities

It’s honestly as simple as lying down on the ground and looking up at the clouds. Cotton balls and shaving cream can make for fun art projects to construct clouds of your own. Make the art outside to draw upon inspiration from the sky.

At a MetroPark

Next time you play in a stream or rain puddles thank the clouds. If not for clouds absorbing moisture from the ground and in the air, then filling up until they can’t hold any more and letting it fall back down in the form of rain we wouldn’t have puddles to play in or water in many of our streams and creeks. We live in an excellent area where five rivers conjoin into the Great Miami. Do you know all five rivers for which Five Rivers MetroParks is named?

Outdoor Connection

Learning about the water cycle with your kids with the help of this book is a great way for kids to explore the rain cycle. You can explore even further by learning about the different types of clouds that can be found in the sky, and how you can predict the weather based on the clouds you see outside.

Literature Connection

In addition to the regular book, the library also offers a Read-along CD version in which the book is narrated aloud for you to follow along. Sometimes this can be a fun treat for a little one to hear a different voice read the same story. No matter who is reading the story – just remember to make it fun. Never use reading as a punishment. If they are not in the mood to read – don’t force them. It’s okay to move on to something else. Some author’s hide little treats in their books outside of the story. Check the back of the book for a fun image of Cloudette raining to make the barcode.

Check out this cool book!

The Curious Garden

BookClub-cover-curiousgardenSummary

One boy’s quest for a greener world… one garden at a time. While out exploring one day, a little boy named Liam discovers a struggling garden and decides to take care of it. As time passes, the garden spreads throughout the dark, gray city, transforming it into a lush, green world. This is an enchanting tale with environmental themes and breathtaking illustrations that become more vibrant as the garden blooms. Red-headed Liam can also be spotted on every page, adding a clever seek-and-find element to this captivating picture book.

Activities

Explore your yard or neighborhood for bits of nature redecorating the forgotten areas. Did you find some spots that could use some green touches? If it’s not too cold you may want to sprinkle some seeds around and see what happens.

At a MetroPark

Do you have a favorite spot that you like to go in MetroParks? Maybe it’s along a creek, near an old tree or hiding in the tall prairies? In MetroParks you can immerse yourself and your family into some of nature’s most beautiful work and see how it takes back areas that are left to the elements. Possum Creek MetroPark’s Argonne forest is a great example of nature taking back the land as you see remnants from the old Argonne Forest Park nestled in with the landscape.

Outdoor Connection

Nature is everywhere even in a big city like the one described in the book, and with a little help we can create beautiful green ways in the most unlikely of places. Everywhere you look you can find hints of nature whether in a bird’s singing or a dandelion popping up through the sidewalk cracks.

Literature Connection

Read the author’s note at the end of the book. Many times the author’s purpose or inspiration isn’t apparent to the reader. Having this insight and background enriches the story. Teach your child about the role of an author and illustrator. In this case, Peter Brown is both.

Check out this cool book!

Fossil

BookClub-cover-FossilSummary

When a boy and his dog go for a hike, the boy trips on a fossil, and it comes to life, revealing an ancient plant. The boy is so intrigued that he breaks two more fossils and they too come to life – showing a prehistoric dragonfly and a pterodactyl. The dog jumps on the pterodactyl’s back and the boy – desperate to get his dog back – must figure out a way to make things go back to normal. Using original art, this “wordless story” will surely spark imagination and creativity.

Activities

While it is unlikely you will find a dinosaur fossil in your neighborhood, you could still look. An anternative might be to find some objects outside or around the house and press them into play-doh or a nice muddy spot in the yard. Make an impression in secret and try to have your child guess what it is. Take turns – your child will delight in stumping you.

At a MetroPark

Finding Fossils is very exciting and MetroParks has some great locations for you to go! Here are two easy locations: Germantown MetroPark near the Germantown Dam, Old Mill road entrance and Sugarcreek MetroPark near the creek and in the creek beds.

Outdoor Connection

Fossils are great to find and give us valuable information about what creatures lived on our planet long before humans arrived. Did you know Ohio was once covered with water? Because of this time known as the Ordovician Period, the fossils we tend to see are those from sea creatures of long ago. Fossils can be found just about anywhere, so head outside and start your exploration today!

Literature Connection

This book has no words!!! But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a story to tell. Narrative skills, or the ability to tell or retell a story, is an important literacy skill that helps your child understand the structure of a story. All stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end. The more you read the story, the more interesting it can become.

Check out this cool book!

Jo MacDonald Hiked In The Woods

BookClub-cover-JoeMacDonaldSummary

Old MacDonald had a…woods? Yes! Come along with Jo MacDonald and learn about the wild creatures in the woods at her grandfather’s farm. Noisy ones, quiet ones, and a few surprises. This delightful variation on “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” playfully introduces youngsters to the woodland habitat while engaging little ones with rhythm and wordplay.

Activities

Sing your own version of this song on a trip around your yard. Add your dog, the garden hose, or even a pebble into your song to make it your own and to describe the things that are around your house.

At a MetroPark

Enjoy a nice hike around any local MetroPark and see if you can find the same kind of wild creatures as Jo MacDonald did. Sing the song as you go and have fun coming up with different objects to add.

Outdoor Connection

Family time outside is a great way to bond with each other and create great memories. Getting outside and getting “unplugged” is a great way to relax and shed the stress of the day. Just enjoy your family’s company and antics that make your family special.

Literature Connection

Literature Connection: Singing with your children is important. It helps them learn to recognize various patterns, rhymes, and syllables. It also makes everything more fun. Singing a clean-up song can make cleaning a snap. Don’t worry if you can’t carry a tune. Teaching your children not to be ashamed of self-expression, we’re all are gifted in different ways. Just have fun and give it your best shot!

Check out this cool book!

Leaf Man

BookClub-cover-LeafManSummary

Fall has come, the wind is gusting, and Leaf Man is on the move. Is he drifting east, over the marsh and ducks and geese? Or is he heading west, above the orchards, prairie meadows, and spotted cows? No one’s quite sure, but this much is certain: A Leaf Man’s got to go where the wind blows. With illustrations made from actual fall leaves and die-cut pages on every spread that reveal gorgeous landscape vistas, here is a playful, whimsical, and evocative book that celebrates the natural world and the rich imaginative life of children. Includes an author’s note and leaf-identifying labels.

Activities

Make your own leaf man. (Hint: If you want him to stay awhile it will help to press the leaves first.) Don’t limit your creation to men and women – there are plenty of animals in the story too.

At a MetroPark

Leaves are fun to play in and have an array of colors but did you know that you can identify a tree from its leaves? Start your first leaf collection and then go through them and try to identify what trees the leaves are from.

Outdoor Connection

Studies show that by having your child play and explore their natural world they are enriching their lives in regards to: significant improvement in their cognitive development, self- discipline, creative expression, language skills and social interactions.

Literature Connection

When you ask your child a question while reading a story (Which is okay to do, I promise!) Give your child time to respond. Their brains are still developing and they typically need 5 seconds to gather their thoughts and turn them into words.

Check out this cool book!

Hey, Little Ant

BookClub-cover-LilAntSummary

What would you do if the ant you were about to step on looked up and started talking? Would you stop and listen? What if your friends saw you hesitate? That’s what happens in this funny, thought-provoking book. Originally a song by a father-daughter team, this conversation between two creatures, large and small, is bound to inspire important discussions. It might even answer that classic childhood question: To squish or not to squish?

Activities

Take a walk around the neighborhood looking for ant hills. Or you could put some “bait” (crumbs) outside and wait. Watch the ants, observe what they do, and talk about it with your child. Experiment with different foods and see what ants like best.

At a MetroPark

Ants are just one of a million kinds of insects that can be found outside. How many can you find on your next hike? Check under logs and rocks, on trees and plants but remember to make sure you put back whatever you move or pick up so that the insects homes are back in place like the items at your home.

Outdoor Connection

Insects are very interesting to observe, and butterflies are by far the most popular. Insects have a very important job pollinating our flowers and vegetables. A large part of their lives are spent pollinating the plants that make us happy and feed us. So next time you see an insect thank him for pollinating and making our lives a bit more enjoyable.

Literature Connection

While watching the ants with your child create dialog between the ants with your child. “Hey, Bob!” “Hey, Anthony!” “What do you want to do today?” This engaging activity will help your child with sentence structure and conversational language.

Check out this cool book!

Little White Rabbit

BookClub-cover-LilRabbitSummary

One bright spring day a little white rabbit sets out from home on an adventure. What does he find? Look! Everything is new. Anything is possible.

Activities

Go outside with your child and pretend to be a tree, a favorite color, a rock, a butterfly, or anything at all!

At a MetroPark

Exploring new areas is a great way to challenge your kids’ navigational response. Have them use a map and guide you on your journey. Mark on the map where you find or observe different items while on your family adventure. Some areas to consider: Aullwood Garden MetroPark, Old Mill Road or Sunfish Pond at Germantown MetroPark, the natural areas at Cox Arboretum MetroPark, South Park at Englewood MetroPark, and the Argonne Forest at Possum Creek MetroPark.

Outdoor Connection

Simply exploring and using as many senses as possible is a great way to help your kids as they grow. The best part is that the outdoors is full interesting signts, smells, touches and sounds. This fun family activity will be one that all will cherish and remember for years to come.

Literature Connection

Sometimes the best stories are just simple, sweet ones that we love to share. Pick your favorite stories to share with your little ones. When you share a book you love, that feeling is conveyed as you read it.

Check out this cool book!

Tap The Magic Tree

BookClub-cover-MagicTreeSummary

There is magic in every tree. The tall, silent one in the woods. The small, bumpy one in the park. Even the bare brown tree in your backyard. As the seasons change, trees change, too. They sprout leaves. The leaves change color. Sometimes flowers bloom. Sometimes apples grow. Trees shelter birds and feed squirrels and bees. There is magic in every tree. And in this book, you become the magician. How? Tap, clap, wiggle, jiggle, and then…turn the page.

Activities

Find a tree in your yard or neighborhood and inspect it. Feel the bark and the leaves and talk about the different ways the tree looked in the book. Make bark and tree rubbings with peeled crayons if you wish.

At a MetroPark

There are so many different kinds of trees and they help us in so many ways. On your next outdoor adventures explore see how many different trees you can find. Check out their bark; what kind of textures do you feel and how many colors and patterns do you see? Observe the different shapes of leaves; how many different leaves can you find? Once you have explored them, come back each season and see how the trees have changed. It’s a great way to develop kids observation skills and you’ll be surprised by just how much they remember after each visit to the trees.

Outdoor Connection

Trees are a very important part of our environment; they provide shade, homes for animals, helps keep our soil from eroding away, and absorb much of the water we get from the yearly rains. We also use trees to build different things, from our homes to the chairs we relax in. They also inspire us in art work and literature.

Literature Connection

Vocabulary is a preschooler’s best friend. They are always learning something new. Head to a nearby tree to learn some tree vocabulary. Some children learn best through sensory activities. Touching the bark and feeling the leaves will help cement these new vocabulary words in your child’s memory. Compare different trees using opposites: smooth/rough, soft/hard, etc…

Check out this cool book!

Because Your Mommy Loves You

BookClub-cover-mommylovesuSummary

When a little boy and his mom go camping, mini-disasters abound, and there are lots of opportunities for Mom to step in and fix everything. But instead, with a loving touch, this mommy shows her child ways to do things for himself, going far to encourage her child’s independence. And there is still plenty of opportunity for snuggling under the stars. This warm and humorous testament to all the loving things a supportive mom does each day is sure to become a favorite for families everywhere.

Activities

If you want to try and camp outside – more power to you! Camping – even the backyard variety – is a great way to relax and if your forget to pack something – no worries!

At a MetroPark

MetroParks has front country camping located in many of the parks. These areas are a great way to get away from the hustle and bustle of home life and provide a relaxing setting for family interaction. Not ready for an overnight excursion? MetroParks are open well into the night and provide amazing opportunities to star gaze and discover the animals of the night. Although you can star gaze at just about any of the parks, some of the best locations to get a clear view of the night sky are Germantown MetroPark‘s reservable area and Twin Creek MetroPark‘s High View shelter.

Outdoor Connection

The night sky is jam packed with fun mythological stories of long ago. Unfortunately due to ambient light, aka light pollution, large cities, nearby suburban areas and even many rural areas are now having a hard time seeing all of the amazing constellations and planets that appear. Discovering the night sky is a great family activity and provides your kids with interest of our world at night.

Literature Connection

Have your child retell the story relying on the pictures to guide them along. Encourage their independence with appropriate tasks. It helps to build their confidence. Ask open-ended questions to encourage your child to speak in complete sentences. Questions beginning with “why,” “what,” etc., encourage language development. Also, check out Because Your Daddy Loves You.

Check out this cool book!

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild

BookClub-cover-MrTigerSummary

Are you bored with being so proper? Do you want to have more fun? Mr. Tiger knows exactly how you feel. So he decides to go wild. But does he go too far? From Caldecott Honor artist Peter Brown comes a story that shows there’s a time and place for everything…even going wild.

Activities

Everyone reminds their children to use their “inside voices” – but why not go outside and find your “outside voice?” Encouraging them to go outside and feel free is an important part to their development. Try to guide them only when necessary; children are very creative. “Free play” is important!

At a MetroPark

Discover your wild side at one of our nature play areas, created to give kids a place for unguided free play with natural materials found in the park. Kids use their imaginations to play or build whatever their minds can dream up. You can find them at Sugarcreek, Englewood, and Hills & Dales MetroParks; look at those parks’ maps to find where to go.

Outdoor Connection

Nature play is a great way for kids to build confidence about working with others, increase problem solving skills and encourages active, healthy lifestyles.

Literature Connection

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild uses speech bubbles or word/dialog balloons to indicate what is being said and by who. Talk to your child about the difference between when Mr. Tiger speaks and when the town people speak. Check out his ROAR! You can also point out the text in the story that isn’t in a bubble. Even if your child can’t read, pointing out the text helps them understand that the words on the page are important too. This is called text awareness.

Check out this cool book!

The Mud Fairy

BookClub-cover-mudfairySummary

Wearing pink and tiptoeing through the dewdrops is for wimps! Emmelina would rather play with her friends, the frogs. But can a fairy with an independent streak earn her wings if she goes against the fairy code? Warm, humorous, and with just the right amount of pink (and mud), here’s a book that will capture the hearts of girly-girls and tomboys alike.

Activities

Build a fairy house or a gnome home in your backyard. Gather some sticks, leaves, rocks, anything at all and make a little shelter. Check on it daily to see if any guests are living there. Help your child determine which type of fairy/gnome they would be: flower, water, mud, animal, etc…

At a MetroPark

On your next outing to your local MetroPark us your imagination and pretend to be a fairy, gnome, or similar being. What things do you think such a creature would like to do? What area of the park do you think they would like to live? You can also search to see if you can find their home or build a home for them in one of our nature play areas.

Outdoor Connection

The outdoors is an inspiring place for your child to use their imagination, as well as thinking and discovering what local animals (and fairies/gnomes alike) might need to survive or might do from day to day.

Literature Connection

Use sticks and other fairy house materials to make letter shapes. Understanding shapes is the first step to constructing letters. Spell your child’s name with things found in nature.

Check out this cool book!

Mudkin

BookClub-cover-MudkinSummary

When a girl playing pretend in the mud looks into a puddle, she conjures up something fantastic and ends up a queen.

Activities

Find some mud and make some fun! Have your child write sentences like Mudkin using their hands. If you don’t want them too messy, try giving them a paintbrush to use the mud as your paint. You can use the sidewalk as your canvas and the rain will take care of clean-up. Learning to write the alphabet begins with scribbles. The first time your child holds a crayon they are starting to learn to write. Scribbles will look more like letters the more they practice. So scribble away!

At a MetroPark

Mud is one of those things that just asks to be stepped and played in, especially out in the parks. Next time you see a muddy area take a minute to observe what creatures have been through there or if anything has become stuck in the mud. You may be suprised at what you will find. Don’t be afraid to let your imagination wander when doing any of these activities; you might end up a queen!

Outdoor Connection

Often times in today’s culture kids are afraid of getting dirty because they don’t want to make their teachers and parents upset. Due to this kids don’t take part in many activities or antics that kids used to take part in. Running, skipping or jumping from item to item may get kids dirty, but also lets them release any pent-up energy and promotes a healthy lifestyle.

Literature Connection

Mudkin speaks in his own language. Remember this is what text can look like to child – like an alien language. The more exposure to text your child has, the more they will be interested in learning how to “decode” letters and start trying to figure out how to read.

Check out this cool book!

Stellar Stargazer

BookClub-cover-NancySummary

Fancy Nancy thinks that everything in the sky is simply stellar, from the sun and the moon to the stars and their constellations (that’s a fancy word for the shapes that stars make!). So nothing could make her happier than a special sleepover under the stars with her dad and her little sister, JoJo. Together Nancy and JoJo wish on stars, moon bathe, and even eat astronaut ice cream! But when rain clouds cover up the stars, what’s a stellar stargazer to do? Bestselling author and illustrator of the Fancy Nancy books Jane O’Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser fill Fancy Nancy: Stellar Stargazer! with celestial facts and sparkling illustrations. Best of all, take the glow-in-the-dark cover outside at night to launch your own fancy stargazing adventure. Ready? Three . . . two . . . one . . . Blastoff!

Activities

Children sometimes have limited view of nighttime and ‘the dark.’ This can sometimes manifest into fear. Their experiences in the dark might be very limited, so why not add a positive memory while you look up and soak in the stars. Dress up in your own “moon suit” for your adventure outdoors!

At a MetroPark

Did you know that many of the MetroParks are open well into the nighttime, giving you a great opportunity to do some star gazing or to grab a flashlight and go on a night hike. There are many locations within Five Rivers MetroParks that gives you a front row seat to watch the stars with very little light pollution to get in your way. We recommend Germantown MetroPark’s Morning Glory, Cottonwood or Goldfinch Shelter areas or Twin Creek MetroPark’s High View Shelter.

Outdoor Connection

Nighttime can be a strange and scary new world for many kids, but by being exposed to it they are able to accept this new world and learn to explore and discover what ‘goes bump in the night’ instead of being scared of it. Exploring our world during the day or at night helps build self-confidence and inspires a connection between your child and nature.

Literature Connection

Fancy Nancy has an expansive vocabulary!! The author does a great job of explaining new words. With preschoolers it is important to use these “new” words as it helps them to build their own vocabulary. Don’t be upset if they forget…it usually takes several exposures to a word to begin touse it themselves. They will be able to understand the word before they will be able to recall it. Make it fun – pick a new word and use it as much as you can. Example: These hot dogs taste stellar because we added fancy cheese.

Check out this cool book!

Nibbles: A Green Tale

BookClub-cover-NibblesSummary

The dandelions are disappearing, so Nibbles must learn to grow his own.

Activities

Sadly, dandelions are not usually found around this time of year. But you can still head out to look for other flowers and talk about seeds. Eat an apple (or your child’s favorite seeded food) and examine the seeds. Help them understand that they could grow into a plant/tree/vine and eventually into another apple. Maybe even try to plant them and see what grows.

At a MetroPark

On your next trip to the MetroParks try to find different kinds of seeds! Big seeds, little seeds, seeds that fly through the air, seeds that fall right to the ground or seeds that are inside fruit. Once you’ve found some seeds then try to identify what kind of seed each is; did they come from a tree, a flower, or a bush? Do they float or do they sink? Are they smooth or are they rough?

Outdoor Connection

Nibbles story about the disappearing dandelions is all too familiar. Many of the resources we use on a daily basis come from a plant of some kind and need to be renewed or replanted to make sure there are more for the future. A recent reminder of how vital our natural resources are has been with the arrival of the Emerald Ash Borer. This invasive, non-native insect is trying to survive as it’s going around to many of our local Ash trees and laying its eggs on them. The larva then eats the tree, eventually killing it. Ash trees, which represent nearly 20 percent of our region’s forested areas, are used most commonly as shade trees and as lumber. Learn how you can help be proactive with our environment’s natural resources >>

Literature Connection

Talk about your child’s favorite food and ask them what they would do and how they would feel if it disappeared forever. Repeating what your child says to you and then expanding a little bit more will help them build their vocabulary, learn how to structure sentences, and it shows them that you are listening. Example: “I love peaches!” “I know why you love peaches. It’s because they are so sweet – just like you!” Ask open-ended questions, you will be surprised what they come up with.

Check out this cool book!

Are You Ready To Play Outside?

BookClub-cover-PlayOutsideSummary

Gerald is careful. Piggie is not. Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can. Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to. Gerald and Piggie are best friends. In Are You Ready to Play Outside?, Piggie can’t wait to go play in the sunshine. But will a rainy day ruin all the fun?

Activities

The activities in this book are best completed in the rain. You will have to make sure it isn’t lightning or too cold. But every once in a while it will rain and be warm enough and you will be okay with grabbing a new set of clothes to put on the kids when it’s all said and done. It’s just water and it just might be really fun. Your kids will remember it. Sometimes we, as parents, need to remember to just dance in the rain.

Playing outside is always fun, but playing out in the rain turns a normal day of play into an awesome adventure. Looking for related experiments? Go outside when its nice and play around. Then when it rains go outside and do the same things. Can you do them the same?

At a MetroPark

There are many things that make us worry about going outside and playing that’s why at MetroParks we have created Nature Play Areas which are monitored for poison ivy and stinging nettle (our only two common skin irritating plants), so there is less to worry about. These areas are dedicated play areas for kids and their families and encourage creative, collaborative self-guided play.

Outdoor Connection

Although it is good to be cautious, many times the things we fear or are unsure of guide what we will or will not do. There are many fears concerning the outdoors, many of which are actually myths that have been passed down for many years. Check our list of common nature myths and see if any of them are ones you have heard before. The outdoors can be a fun adventure as long as our fears are put aside and we allow ourselves to explore the areas that fear us.

Literature Connection

Elephant and Piggie are great friends and have many adventures. There are many more titles in the series and every single one is well written. While these books are not full of text or overly complicated, they are treasures to beheld. When in doubt about what book to choose – Mo Willems is always a good bet.

Check out this cool book!

Some Bugs

BookClub-cover-somebugsSummary

Get the buzz on bugs in this picture book from Angela DiTerlizzi! Grab your magnifying glass! Find your field guide! And come hop, hide, swim, and glide through this buggy backyard world! Featuring insects: including butterflies and moths, crickets and cicadas, bumblebees and beetles, this zippy rhyming exploration of backyard-bug behavior is sure to have insect enthusiasts of all ages bugging out with excitement.

Activities

Think there are not many bugs in your backyard? THINK AGAIN! Here are some great spots to search for critters around your own humble abode. Under rocks, by the garden hose, and in the corners of the yard are great places to start.

At a MetroPark

Come out to your favorite MetroPark and investigate where your favorite bugs like to hang out as you take a leisurely walk down any of the trails. Where do you think they will be? Are they where you thought they would be? Why do you think they picked those locations? Keep in mind the 4 essentials of life – food, water, air and sun – as you go on your own insect investigation.

Outdoor Connection

Studies show that by having your child play and explore their natural world they are enriching their lives. This includes: significant improvement in their cognitive development, self- discipline, creative expression, language skills, and social interactions.

Literature Connection

The second time you read this story have your child imitate the bugs in the book. Adding an interactive aspect to the book makes it even more fun! Looking through the book and sharing observations of what the characters are doing is a great way to get your child to start verbally expressing and understanding what they are seeing.

Check out this cool book!

Step Gently Out

BookClub-cover-StepGentlySummary

Stunning close-up photography and a lyrical text implore children to look more closely at the world around them. Be still, and watch a single blade of grass. An ant climbs up to look around. A honeybee flies past. What would happen if you walked very, very quietly and looked ever so carefully at the natural world outside? You might see a cricket leap, a moth spread her wings, or a spider step across a silken web. In simple, evocative language, Helen Frost offers a hint at the many tiny creatures around us. And in astonishing close-up photographs, Rick Lieder captures the glint of a katydid’s eye, the glow of a firefly, and many more living wonders just awaiting discovery. Fascinating facts about all the creatures pictured may be found at the end.

Activities

Pick a spot in your yard to observe. Remind your child we need to be quiet and still so that we can see and hear what is out there in “the wild.” Explain that the photographer from the book used a special camera to take these pictures close up. Bring out your own camera and let your little one become a young photographer.

At a MetroPark

Discover what creatures are in your local parks on your next adventure. Take a quiet walk and see what you can find or pick a place in the park to have a nice snack and while eating observe what other creatures are doing. You can pick anyplace you’d like, but just in case here are some suggestions: Aullwood Garden MetroPark, the boardwalk at Carriage Hill MetroPark, Conservation Corner at Cox Arboretum MetroPark, East, South or North Park at Englewood MetroPark, Sunfish Pond at Germantown MetroPark, Huffman MetroPark, Prairie Dock Shelter at Possum Creek MetroPark, Hilltop Shelter at Taylorsville MetroPark, the woodland naturary or Dogwood Pond at Twin Creek MetroPark.

Outdoor Connection

Our lives get so busy and many times the days just fly by. By taking time to slow down and observe things we may not typically notice we are able to enjoy spending time together and can offset our fast past schedules. The outdoors has a way of slowing us down and making us appreciate the little things in life that make us smile.

Literature Connection

Don’t feel rushed or compelled to read every word the author has written. If you child feels like just talking through the book. It’s okay! The author will not find you and scold you. Sharing the book as a pleasant experience is the main goal. It’s okay to stray away from text and it’s especially helpful when you’ve read the same story a million times.

Check out this cool book!

In The Tall, Tall Grass

BookClub-cover-TallGrassSummary

If you were a fuzzy caterpillar crawling through the tall, tall grass on a sunny afternoon, what would you see? To find out, just follow the tiny tour guide as he inches his way through the pages of this book. You’ll see ants and bees and birds – hip-hopping bunnies too. You’ll even hear the sounds some of them make. Crunch, munch, caterpillars lunch… Crack, snap, wings flap… Beginning as the sun is high in the sky and ending as fireflies blink and the moon rises above, this backyard tour is one no child will want to miss. In the Tall, Tall Grass is a 1992 Boston Globe – Horn Book Award Honor Book for Picture Books.

Activities

Make a field journal about your yard during the day. Draw pictures and diagrams. Then go out at night and see if any additional animals are around that were not there before. It might also be a great time to catch some lightning bugs.

At a MetroPark

Pretend to be a caterpillar, butterfly, bee or whatever your heart’s desire out at your local MetroParks. Roam through a prairie as you imagine being a butterfly or play a fun game of hide and seek through its tall grass and flowering plants. Some great areas for fun prairie play are: yellow hiking trail at Sugarcreek MetroPark, East Park’s black hiking trail or South Park’s Prairie View campsite at Englewood MetroPark, Conservation Corner on the red hiking trail at Cox Arboretum MetroPark, green hiking trail at Carriage Hill MetroPark, silver hiking trail at Germantown MetroPark, red hiking trail at Possum Creek MetroPark, observation area at Taylorsville MetroPark, and the blue hiking trail at Twin Creek MetroPark.

Outdoor Connection

Acting like the characters in the book is a great way to start your kids on an interactive outdoor exploration. Let them make up things as they go and see how far their imagination will take them. Outdoor self-guided play is a great way for kids to expand their creative thinking, and verbal expression.

Literature Connection

After reading the story, go through the book again to look for the letters of your child’s name. Depending on their skill level – start with the first letter of their name and then add others once they master one letter. Letter knowledge, or knowing the names of the letters, is an important skill for preschoolers to have.\

Check out this cool book!

The Trouble With Dragons

BookClub-cover-TroubleDragonsSummary

The trouble with dragons is . . . everything! From chopping down forests to wasting food, the dragons are making an absolute mess of the planet. Their careless ways could spell the end for Earth–unless they can find a way to turn things around. From the beloved author and illustrator of “No Matter What” comes a gentle, timely story for young children about the importance of protecting our Earth and all its living things.

Activities

Find one way together to make the world a better place. Try and inspire the entire family to get on board. Ideas: Recycle, turning off lights when not in use, turn off water while brushing teeth, or anything you can think of. Every step in the right direction no matter how small, can make a difference.

At a MetroPark

The importance of protecting our Earth all starts by getting outside and exploring it, whether it’s in your backyard or in a local park. Take a nice stroll around your local MetroPark and play a game of how many animals or animal homes you can find. Search under rocks and logs to see where home might be for many animals or be creative and explore the possibilities when you play in a nature play area. It all starts from that first interaction and can grow into a world of unlimited possibilities. What will your next adventure be?

Outdoor Connection

In a world of technology many times being outside takes a back seat. With this new way of living it will be hard for future generations to understand the important of earth and its limited resources. We care for the things that we spend the most time in or around; our families, homes, friends, and pets. Nature is another one of those elements that needs to be explored and provoked in order to understand and eventually deeply care about its wellbeing.

Literature Connection

Phonological awareness is the ability for children to hear and speak the sounds of letters. It is an important step in how children learn to read and speak properly. This title has rhymes in the text. Rhyming is a great way to play with sounds. Make rhymes with your child – they don’t have to be proper words – rhyming time is fun time.

Check out this cool book!

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