School’s Out…Now What?

So, we have all made it through another school year. Classroom learning may have stopped for our kids, but we should never stop learning, right? I believe that the outdoors are a great summer “classroom” for kids, so here are a few new books that can hopefully get them off the couch and into the outdoors.


Outside: A Guide to Discovering Nature by Maria Ana Peixe Dias, Ines Teixeira Do Rosario, and Bernardo P. Carvalho. 9781847807694. 2016. Gr 4-6.

The size and thickness of this title almost makes it resemble a textbook, and it is packed with information on a variety of outside topics. The book encourages, “There’s a huge world waiting for you out there. We hope you have lots of adventures!” The pages take readers through finding insects, identifying trees, observing nature at the beach, exploring the night sky, and so much more.

The illustrations are a mixture of sparse line drawings and full-color plates, and the text is informative without being too dense. Ideas for adventures and interesting facts are mixed in. For example, it is suggested to go out and watch for fireflies at night; tips are given for how, where, and when to find them and kids are told, “Did you know that the eggs of some species of fireflies are also luminous?” Very interesting!

Outdoor ScienceOutdoor Science Lab for Kids by Liz Lee Heinecke. 9781631591150. 2016. Gr 2-5.

This is the book for science-minded kids (and adults!) who love hands-on, get-dirty sort of activities. A criticism I sometimes have of science experiment books is that they just repeat and rehash the same tired science experiments that I did way back when I was a kid. While making a baking soda and vinegar volcano is still cool, it is nice to see new activities that encourage budding scientists, too.

This title contains 52 outdoor science activities, all laid out in a logical and attractive format. Want to find macroinvertebrates and view them under a microscope? Want to make foaming slime? How about observe soil filtration in action? These are just a few experiments that can be done and almost all of them require common household or easily obtained items. And best of all, many experiments are new and unique, or put a new spin on old classics.

Cola FountainsCola Fountains and Spattering Paint Bombs by Jesse Goossens and Linde Faas. 9781935954521. 2016. Gr 4-7.

Based on the title of this book, you should most definitely do these experiments outside! This colorful title contains 47 experiments that are sure to appeal to science-minded kids. Who knew that a nearly-halved grape becomes a miniature fireball when microwaved? Or that you can make the “M” on M&Ms to float to the surface of a bowl of water? Disclaimer: Despite the kid-friendly look of the book, many experiments here should be done only with adult supervision.

These are just a couple of the things you can learn to do from this book, keeping all your budding mad scientists entertained and engaged in the summer months and beyond.


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