Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Get Outside: The Kids Guide to Fun in the Great Outdoors

Get Outside: The Kids Guide to Fun in the Great Outdoors

Jane Drake, Ann Love
Illustrator:  Heather Collins 
For ages 7 to 10
Kids Can Press, 2012   ISBN: 978-1554538027

Not that many years ago, children enjoyed spending much of their time playing outdoors, and parents often had to compel their offspring to come indoors for meals and bedtime. When the weather outside was not suited to outdoor play, children would play with toys, make crafts, or play board games. These days, many children spend a lot of time gazing at a TV screen, or playing a video or computer game. Their leisure time is less interactive and creative than it was for children twenty years ago.

In an effort to encourage children to get off the sofa, the authors of this book have come up with a collection of activities, which include crafts, games, and explorations. The activities are divided into four seasonal sections, each one of which is subdivided into four more sections. There are activities for nature lovers, “Outdoor fun and games,” things to do indoors when the weather is inclement, and activities for children who are interested in learning about the night sky.

We begin with spring, and since spring is a time when many birds build nests and raise babies, the first project shows children how to make a birdhouse using an empty plastic bottle. Other spring projects include learning about “Swamp Things,” and learning how to recognize animal tracks.

In the spring “Fun and Games” section, children will learn how to make, and fly, a kite. Spring winds are perfect for kite flying. Of course, spring is also a time when the weather can be rather temperamental. Without warning, the sun can suddenly disappear behind a cloud and it gets cold. When this happens, readers can come inside and look this book to find out how to play donkey or slapjack, which are two card games.

In the summer section, the authors give us some wonderful activity ideas that are perfect for those long sunny vacation days. Children can learn how to plant a vegetable garden, how to make a scarecrow to protect the garden, and how to build a compost bin. Later in this chapter they will find out how to make two kinds of swings, and for days at the beach there are all kinds of beach games to try.

This cleverly written book will help children to rediscover that there is a whole world outside to explore, and that playing games, doing crafts, and having adventures are activities that are great fun. Not only will they use their minds and their muscles, but they will also find that these activities are perfect for sharing with friends or relatives.