By Jennifer Ward (Trumpeter, 2008)
Looking for no-brainer ways to have active fun with the whole family? Go outside! As this book of outdoor activities for kids and parents points out, the mental and physical health benefits of unstructured outdoor play are legion: A 2005 study by the California Department of Education found that students in nature-immersion programs did 27 percent better on science tests than their classroom-bound peers; multiple studies have shown the positive effects of outdoor play on symptoms of attention deficit disorder; and Swedish researchers at a daycare found that children who played outdoors daily showed better coordination and concentration than children kept inside.
I Love Dirt is a collection of fun ideas for outdoor adventures for kids and parents to share, organized by seasons. They’re loosely structured enough to encourage plenty of exploration — one springtime activity sends you on a walk in search of shades of green; another has you outside at night with a constellation map — but they’re specific enough that you’re ready to field the omnipresent question, “What are we doing now?” With plenty of entertaining facts and question-and-answer boxes for each activity, this is a terrific resource to have on hand when your own mental list of good-for-you games is running out.