As Rudine Sims Bishop first noted back in 1990, books serve simultaneously as mirrors, windows, and sliding doors, reflecting the reader’s own experience and offering insight and access to the experiences of others.
Exposing children to books that include representations of a diverse array of characters and experiences fosters inclusivity, builds self-esteem, and promotes empathy. Yet all too often, parents, educators, and librarians struggle to find children’s books that properly represent the diversity of children in their care.
With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of high-quality books that both portray diverse characters and support nature-based learning.
Birds must use lots of energy to maintain their body temperatures. In winter, when insects and berries are harder to come by, birds are especially thankful for additional food sources. By creating your own pinecone bird feeder you can help out your neighborhood birds and create more opportunities for up-close bird observation.
All too often we dismiss play as an extra, coming secondary to the more important work of learning. This is clearly seen in the drastic reduction in recess time for young children, and a shift away from play in the classroom, even at the preschool and kindergarten level. The problem with this mindset is that a growing body of research clearly demonstrates that for children, play is learning - perhaps the most important kind!
Taking play and learning outdoors on a regular basis isn’t just good for children’s health and wellbeing. It’s also been shown to build important cognitive and social-emotional skills and boost academic achievement. And children aren’t the only ones who benefit; added outdoor time is beneficial for parents and educators as well!
Check out our “Top 5 Educational Benefits of Nature Play” infographic for a look at some of the powerful advantages of outdoor play and learning!
Karissa Akin and Kailey Gieck are the co-founders and sister duo behind Iksplor, a 100% merino wool clothing line for newborns and kids. Their mission is to create functional layers born for adventure, to help get kids get outside and stay outside longer! Iksplor is currently in the prototype phase, and Karissa and Kailey are excited to be building a community passionate about getting little ones outside in quality clothing that lasts!
At Wonderkin, we’re passionate about quality gear and highlighting female entrepreneurs and thought leaders working to advance the children’s nature play movement. We know you’ll enjoy learning more about Karissa’s story…
When you start digging in to data about children's health in this country, the findings can be a bit scary...
The good news is that many of these issues can be addressed without expensive interventions. Simply getting children outdoors on a regular basis to play and move freely can go a long way toward minimizing negative health impacts.
If you've ever had the good luck to spot an owl, you might have noticed that it appeared to be turning its head all the way around! Owls have the ability to rotate their heads close to 270 degrees. How come? Because there's something unique about their eyes...
Humans and most animals have eyes that are round like balls. That means we can look up, down, left, and right without having to move our head at all. Owls, on the other hand, have eyes shaped like tubes. As a result, they can't move their eyes, and have to move their entire head instead.
By creating an owl eye viewer you can experience an owl’s range of vision firsthand…
After running a nature-based early childhood program for the past three years, I find myself so immersed in the world of nature play that I sometimes take for granted just how impactful regular outdoor play is on healthy development.
But on occasions when I find myself spending time with young children who don’t engage in regular outdoor exploration, the differences are striking…
In our neck of the woods we tend to get our first real snows in January, so it's the perfect time to pull out books that capture the magic of snowfall from a range of perspectives. I find that the richest learning occurs when children are presented with a combination of fact and fiction, helping deepen their naturalist knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts while also providing fodder for creative exploration and thematic dramatic play. These eight great books do just that...
Sara McCarty is an attorney, mama of three, and the founder of Run Wild My Child, a website dedicated to getting kids outside and back to nature, one adventure at a time. We know you'll find our Q&A with Sara to be both interesting and inspiring.
While it can seem like a quiet time of year, there are still plenty of opportunities for winter wildlife spotting, so long as you know what to look for -- and where to look for it. Many backyard birds, deer, rabbits, foxes, and other little creatures are still out and about during the winter months. Inspired by the activities in this box, bundle up, head outdoors, and start exploring the world of winter wildlife!
One of the most common explanations I hear for why someone is hesitant to embrace more outdoor play time is that they simply don't feel prepared. And that makes sense - as grown ups we feel like we're supposed to be in control and have all the answers.
The thing is, we can't control nature. That's why it can feel so intimidating to head outdoors with children in tow. But what we can do is be prepared to confidently address unexpected challenges while fostering deep play and meaningful learning.
That's where the Wonderkin Nature Play Toolkit comes in.
Animal tracking is an ancient skill that early humans relied on for their survival. Today, learning to identify animal tracks is just one of many skills to add to your nature detective toolkit.
Being a nature detective means always keeping a sharp eye out for clues about the natural world. While wild animals can be hard to spot, they often leave clues of their presence, from tracks to droppings to unfinished remnants of meals. By learning to identify these clues, you can get to know your animal "neighbors" and their habits and preferences.
With Halloween just around the corner, it feels like the perfect time to dive into some owl-themed exploration! Your little explorer will love the engaging, hands-on learning activities in our owl-themed box.
Our author spotlight this month is on Nicola Davies, whose book White Owl, Barn Owl is featured in the Wonderkin Owl Box and on our list of "Eight Great Books About Owls To Support Nature Based Learning."
Few people have done more to advance the nature play movement than pediatric occupational therapist and mama of three Angela Hanscom. In addition to founding TimberNook, an award-winning nature-based program that has gained international popularity, Angela is also the author of Balanced & Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children, which outlines the impact of a lack of outdoor playtime on overall sensory and motor development in children. We know you'll find our Q&A with Angela to be both interesting and inspiring.
The Fall Equinox marks the official beginning of autumn, and the date on which day and night are roughly equal in length. Here in the Northern Hemisphere the days will continue to shorten, and the sun will continue to travel lower in the sky, leading up to the winter solstice.
With cooler temperatures on the horizon and leaves starting to fall, it’s a perfect time to head outdoors as a family and appreciate the beauty and magic of the season. Here are five of our favorite ways to celebrate the Fall Equinox...
Whether you live in a busy city, a quiet suburb, or out in the countryside, chances are there are trees nearby. Because they’re so commonplace, trees make a fantastic gateway into nature study for little learners.
The activities in the Wonderkin Tree Box will encourage you to get to know the trees in your neighborhood, a process that will help foster a personal connection with the natural world and provide a natural jumping off point for hours of tree-themed play and learning.
We think this box is absolutely TREEmendous - we hope you’ll agree! Here’s what you’ll find inside…
We’re always excited to come across businesses that share our commitment to getting kids back outdoors and connected to nature. One of the most exciting examples in this space is Stick-lets, a company that sells simple, reusable silicon connectors that turn sticks you scavenge outdoors into fantastic building materials. Their tag-line - “because mother nature misses us” - gets us every time! We were thrilled to include Stick-lets in the Wonderkin Tree Box, and to have the opportunity to learn more about the company’s founder, Christina Kazakia…
Whether you live in a busy city, a quiet suburb, or out in the countryside, chances are there are trees nearby. Getting to know the trees in your neighborhood is a great way to deepen your personal connection to the natural world.
These eight great books pair nicely with the Wonderkin Tree Box and provide the perfect jumping off point for hours of tree study and outdoor exploration!
Astronomy, or the study of stars, planets, and space, is a wonderful nature-based learning topic that's both accessible and interesting to learners of all ages. From stargazing to creating your own sundial, there are ample opportunities for hands-on learning and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) integration.
These eight great books pair nicely with the Wonderkin Astronomy Box and provide the perfect jumping off point for hours of outdoor exploration!
Dive into the world of plants, and you'll discover a host of amazing characters, from the bold Venus flytrap, a carnivorous plant that catches insects and arachnids, to the shy Mimosa pudica, or "sensitive plant," whose leaves fold up and droop when touched only to reopen moments later.
Just like other living creatures, plants have distinct life cycles and anatomy. They're also incredibly important for life on earth. Humans and animals alike depend on plants for food and shelter. Plants are so amazing that there's an entire field of science dedicated to studying them: botany!
Your budding botanist is sure to love the theme of this box. Here's what you'll find inside...
Botany, or the study of plants, is a wonderful nature-based learning topic that's both accessible and interesting to learners of all ages. From planting seeds to dissecting plants to creating pressed flower artwork, there are ample opportunities for hands-on learning and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) integration.
These eight great books pair nicely with the Wonderkin Botany Box and provide the perfect jumping off point for hours of plant study and outdoor exploration!