Thursday, February 16, 2017

100 Backyard Activities That are the Dirtiest, Coolest, Creepy-crawliest EVER! by Colleen Kessler

 By Janie Reinart

Nature-loving kids of all ages are you ready to get your hands dirty and become an expert on bugs, beetles, birds, plants, worms and more? Let me introduce you to my amazing friend, Colleen Kessler.  She is a mom of four children, teacher, author, speaker and founder of the website Raising Lifelong Learners.

Colleen taught elementary gifted kids for more than a decade, and has homeschooled her own gifted children. Her website and books focus on igniting a passion for hands-on learning, experimentation, science and creativity in kids. 

In her spare time, Colleen’s a featured speaker at homeschooling conventions, events and online webinars and podcasts. 

Give a warm welcome to this gifted author.
Colleen Kessler

Colleen has graciously answered some interview questions.  

Who is your agent?  
Currently, I don’t have an agent.

How did you get the idea for your story?

My new book -- like most of what I've written -- is nonfiction. I love finding ways to make science and nature awesome and exciting for kids. I try to make what I've written so fun and interesting that kids won't even know they're actually learning while reading and exploring.

How long did it take to write? Get to a publisher?

The book proposal for this title was written, submitted, and rejected here and there over the last 8 years. It languished in drawers for a long, long time. 

In November of 2105, I dusted it off and sent it to an editor I was introduced to at Page Street Publishing in response to a request for a proposal for unique kids' activities books

I had a conference call with the editor and publisher to hash out and fine tune the proposal, and signed a contract that December. Because it's a book most suited for a spring release, and December was too late to get all the details worked out by spring 2016, we decided it was best to wait until Spring 2017. It will be released May 2nd, 2017.

What is your favorite part of the story?

I love everything about this new book. It's a backyard nature science book for kids that is jam-packed with activities, explorations, and experiments that they can do in the yard -- mostly with things around the house

The most fun, though, was that during the summer months when the activities were being photographed, we had about a half a dozen glass terrariums filled with insects, reptiles, and amphibians crammed on every free space in our tiny 790 square foot house. 
 What is your writing routine? 

I sit down and write. I'm only half kidding. When I first started writing for kids, I waited until an inspiration would hit, and then I'd write feverishly. But, as I grew, and also started taking on freelance assignments, I started making myself write when I had the time to do it. 

With four
home-schooled kids, and a thriving blog and speaking career, if I waited until inspiration hit, I'd never write. Instead, I write every single day

I work on social media and blog writing in delineated segments of work time, and write in a journal or on various documents saved on my computer when I am done with the writing work that has to get done first. 

And I write wherever I am. In the car, an appointment waiting room, in bed, at the kitchen table... Any place can be a writing nook.

What is your favorite book on the craft of writing?

Picking a favorite book of any genre is like picking a favorite child. Totally impossible. There are so many from which to choose, and new and exciting ones to discover all the time.

What inspires you to write?   

I don't know that anything specific inspires me to write. I know, though, that it's like breathing to me... something I can't live without. It's release, it's creativity, it's me time, and it's play. I just need to write.

What are you working on now?

Right now I'm working on a book for parents of quirky kids... nonfiction for moms (in particular) and dads (also) who find themselves parenting kiddos who are outliers -- those who aren't easily quantifiable: gifted, twice-exceptional, sensory strugglers, and otherwise different kids.

Words of advice for writers:  

If you want to write, then write. There will never be a perfect time, a perfect place, or perfect story. You just have to do it. And, once you've written, find seasoned writers with whom to  connect. Join critique groups -- and listen to critiquers, go to conferences, and read up on while honing the craft. But first -- write.

Thank you, Colleen for an intriguing interview. Best wishes on your book launch. Pre-order 100 Backyard Activities here. I know some grandchildren that are going to love this book.


  1. I would have lived in the pages of this book when I was a kid, and I still love the creepy crawlers. Thank you, Colleen, for sharing your 'just do the work' attitude.

    1. Thanks for stopping by David. Love that you would have lived in the pages of Colleen's book😊

    2. Thanks, David. <3 It was such fun to write, and my own kids had a blast trying out all the experiments and activities for me.

  2. Great insight into finding the time to write no matter what the schedule. TY Coleen and Janie.

  3. Going to pick up that book! My son is all about nature, bugs, and science so that will be perfect for him.

    1. Jodi I have several grands that I can hardly wait to give this book to 😊

    2. Jodi, you'll have to get in touch and let me know how he liked it! :)

  4. now THIS looks like a fun book for kids!

    1. Right up your alley, Sue 🐞

    2. Thank you, Sue -- and weren't we at a science and nature writing workshops at Highlights together? Like seven or eight years ago?

  5. Thank you, Colleen and Janie, for sharing Colleen's new book and her writing journey. I look for to reading this book about insects, worms, and more :)

    1. Thank you, Charlotte. I appreciate your support.

  6. You are welcome Charlotte 😊

  7. Makes me want to get into the backyard & have some fun.
    Thanks for this intro to a NF author new to me.

    1. Jan so happy to introduce you to Colleen ❤

  8. Can't wait to get a copy of your book, Colleen ... and so glad for this interview, such a help to us imperfect mamas ...

    1. Cristy thank you for stopping by. Colleen sure sets the bar high ❤