Wednesday photo of the week: tree swing


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Monday thought of the week: watch her go!

A thought:

Give a child a pair of binoculars or a camera, and he will be occupied for a moment or two, before setting it aside. But give her a net, and watch her go!

– Robert Michael Pyle, “The Beauty of Butterfly Nets,” Wings (Spring 2009); PDF available here.

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BOOK: The Big Book of Nature Activities: A Year-Round Guide to Outdoor Learning

Every time I share about a new book of nature activities, I wonder if there is the need for more books of this nature. And while it may seem that one book or a few might be enough for a parent or educator to have access to, personally I think the more variety of activities one can pull from, the better. And you can’t dismiss a nature connection book that has arguably one of the greatest naturalists of history on its cover, Mr. Charles Darwin (I studied Darwin for my degrees in history, if you didn’t know, and one of my favorite aspects of his life is how he involved some of his children in nature experiments around their home and gardens). This new title – The Big Book of Nature Activities – is jam-packed with activities that explore seasonal differences. But its strength is in the chapters and sections that explore larger scientific concepts that some books either don’t cover or gloss over too briefly, such as evolution, climate change, and big picture cosmology. The book’s two authors are a director of a summer camp and outdoor education center, and a naturalist and environmentalist. Their combined backgrounds make for a comprehensive guide to nature connection that will find a spot on home, classroom, or nature center bookshelves (the book is a bit too big for carrying around in a backpack).


Jacob Rodenburg and Drew Monkman, The Big Book of Nature Activities: A Year-Round Guide to Outdoor Learning (Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers, 2016), 384 pp.

Publisher’s description The average child can identify over one thousand corporate logos, but only ten native plants or animals—a telling indictment of our modern disconnection from nature. Soaring levels of obesity, high rates of ADHD, feelings of stress and social awkwardness, and “Nature Deficit Disorder” are further unintended consequences of a childhood spent primarily indoors. The Big Book of Nature Activities is a comprehensive guide for parents and educators to help youth of all ages explore, appreciate and connect with the natural world. This rich, fully illustrated compendium features: Nature-based skills and activities such as species identification, photography, journaling, and the judicious use of digital technology; Ideas, games, and activities grounded in what’s happening in nature each season; Core concepts that promote environmental literacy, such as climate change and the mechanisms and wonder of evolution, explained using a child-friendly, engaging approach; Lists of key species and happenings to observe throughout the year across most of North America. Perfect for families, educators, and youth leaders , The Big Book of Nature Activities is packed with crafts, stories, information and inspiration to make outdoor learning fun.


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Wednesday photo of the week: immersed


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Monday thought of the week: touched

A thought:

We have to let children touch nature, because that which is untouched is unloved.

– Emma Marris (from her recent TED talk, see below)

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Upcoming nature events in Portland

— Please check for any schedule changes or registration requirements —

Nature-based camps for Summer 2016 – now registering!

Community canoe paddle schedule with Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership

Early morning bird walks at Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge: August 6Sept. 3, and Oct. 1

Now playing at OMSI’s Empirical Theater in 3D: National Parks Adventure

Upcoming paddle events with Tualatin Riverkeepers

Summer Fun Days at Blue Lake with Metro (every T/W/Th from June 28-Aug. 11 from 11am to 2pm

Nature classes at Hoyt Arboretum, Summerlake City Park (Tigard), and Mary S. Young Park (West Linn) from Tinkergarten

Discovery Hikes with the Forest Park Conservancy

Hike series with Friends of the Columbia River Gorge

Hike series with Oregon Wild

Summer nature programming (pp. 165-170) from THPRD

Summer nature programming from the Friends of Tryon Creek

Summer nature programming at Jackson Bottom Wetlands (Hillsboro)

Summer nature programming at the Tillamook Forest Center

Free Skills Series from Rewild Portland (every month)

Bird watching outings with Audubon Society of Portland

Bird walks with Backyard Bird Shop



August 6 | Naturalist in the Park at Smith and Bybee | Metro

August 7 | 22nd Annual Columbia Slough Regatta | Columbia Slough Watershed Council

August 8 | Hoppy Adventure Hour: Columbia Gorge Getaways (at Lucky Lab-Quimby) | REI

August 11 | Turtles of the Tualatin | Tualatin Riverkeepers

August 13 | Guided Nature Walk, 9:30am | Tualatin Hills Nature Park

August 13 | Naturalist in the Park at Mount Talbert | Metro

August 13 | The Great Outdoor Adventure | West Linn Parks & Rec

August 15 | Best Adventures Near Portland Release Party | Adam Sawyer

August 20 | Naturalist in the Park at Scouters Mountain | Metro

August 20 | Moonlight Paddle | Columbia Slough Watershed Council

August 21 | Sunday Parkways: Southeast Portland | Portland Bureau of Transportation

August 24 | Summer BBQ at Hoyt Arboretum | Forest Park Conservancy

August 25 | Book talk: Best Outdoor Adventures Near Portland | Powell’s City of Books

August 26 | Bat Night | Columbia Slough Watershed Council

August 27 | 2016 Johnson Creek Clean Up | JCWC

August 27 | Sneak Peek of Newell Creek Canyon | Metro

September 1 | Twilight Thursday at Cooper Mountain | Metro

September 3 | Vulture Awareness Day | Audubon Society of Portland

September 17 | Guided Nature Walk, 9:30am | Tualatin Hills Nature Park

September 17 | Nature and Culture Festival at Blue Lake | Metro

September 17 | Aquifer Adventure | Columbia Slough Watershed Council

September 18 | Oregon Walkways in Cully Neighborhood | Oregon Walks

September 24 | National Public Lands Day | NEEF

October 2 | Sunday Parkways: Sellwood-Milwaukie | Portland Bureau of Transportation

October 2 | 3rd Annual Salmon Celebration | Johnson Creek Watershed Council

October 15 | Fall Bird Walk | Columbia Slough Watershed Council

November 19-20 | Wild Arts Festival | Audubon Society of Portland

Regular nature outings (check websites for seasonal scheduling):
Nature Days in the Park and Nature Mobile from THPRD’s Natural Resources
Honeybee Hikes at Leach Botanical Garden
Story and Strolls and Guided Nature Walks at Tryon Creek State Park
Ladybug Nature Walks with Portland Parks Environmental Education
Puddle Stompers at Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge
Tadpole Tales with Columbia Slough Watershed Council (beginning May 2)
Farm Fridays at Zenger Farm
Second Saturdays at the Water Resources Education Center in Vancouver, WA
Guided hikes at Columbia Springs in Vancouver, WA (third Wed. of most months)
Tillamook Tales at the Tillamook Forest Center

Did you know?
– $2 admission at OMSI the first Sunday of every month
– $3 admission at the World Forestry Center the first Thursday of every month
– $4 admission at the Oregon Zoo the second Tuesday of every month
– FREE admission at the Portland Art Museum the first Thursday of every month, 5-8pm
– FREE admission at the Portland Children’s Museum the first Friday of every month, 4-8pm
– FREE admission at the Oregon Historical Society & Museum every day for Multnomah County residents

*My friend Laura posts a monthly listing of kid and family-friendly events of natural, scientific, and cultural interest. August’s list is here.

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Wednesday photo of the week: creek exploring


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Monday thought of the week: a paradox

A thought:

It is paradoxical that many educators and parents still differentiate between a time for learning and a time for play without seeing the vital connection between them.

Leo Buscaglia, motivational speaker and professor in special education

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Wednesday photo of the week: happy kid, happy earth


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Monday thought of the week: heading outside

A thought:

How do you get children to connect with the richness of the natural world? Perhaps, it is as simple as heading outside with a homemade butterfly net and a racing heart.

– William Leach, in an NPR interview for his book about the history of butterfly collecting, Butterfly People: An American Encounter with the Beauty of the World

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