The vernal equinox is this Sunday, March 20 and is the official first day of spring. In most of the country, spring is making its sweet entrance, (although we had snow today in Wyoming), so I thought I'd encourage everyone to make an effort to spend more time exploring outside this year. Take your child, take your grandchild, take a dog or take your pet pig, but make some concentrated time to get reacquainted with nature. It doesn't take much to walk around the block or go visit your nearest park. Plus it's good for you - there are all sorts of recent studies detailing how great nature is for us in all aspects of our lives (and this study, this one and this one just to cite a few).
If you're taking kids with you, it's fun to have a couple of nature guides to take along. My favorite for the 4-10 year old set are the Take Along Guides.
Since it's spring, I thought this one was good to start with.
This set features a number of titles and I think all of them are great. There's just enough information to keep you and the young ones interested and help with identification. Each page lists one caterpillar, bug or butterfly with the same subsections - What It Looks Like, What It Eats, and Where to Find It. The back pages are blank and intended for a scrapbook - a great place to record your own findings and sketches.
The three subsections for the bird book are Bird, Nest and Egg. How often do you discover a bird nest and wonder which bird built it? If the trees and shrubs in your location haven't totally leafed out yet, now is a great time to go on a nest hunt.
This series is a little older (late 1990s), but it's still available online through several vendors. They're published by Cooper Square and have various authors including Mel Boring, Leslie Dendy, Diane Burns, etc. and many illustrators like Linda Garrow,
Each book also has one or two nature-related activities to try. You can make your own plaster tracks using the directions found in the Tracks, Scat and Signs guide.
These books are the perfect companion for your budding naturalist or even an older naturalist who needs a little reminder of what's out in the woods.
Happy Discovery and Happy Spring!