10 Fabulous Picture Books about Birds to Read-aloud



This past year we have spent a lot of time learning about animals through picture books. Most young kids are fascinated by animals, and learning about animals (and observing them in person) is a wonderful way to help kids to care about and fall in love with the natural world.

Birds are so fun to learn about because they are everywhere. Whether you live in the city, country, or suburbia, you will usually have opportunities to observe birds right where you live. When we began studying birds together this year through read-alouds, I was amazed by the number of wonderful picture books we found just browsing the shelves of the library. We read one or more picture birds about birds for nearly a month this year. These ten were our very favorites. I have listed them in order from least text (youngest listeners) to most text (for multiple read-aloud sessions and/or older kids). My kids are 6, 8, and 10, and these ten titles were big hits with all three!

How Green Is Your Hair? Non-toxic Hair Care for the Entire Family



We are a family of very thick, very curly hair. I am particular about hair products (I never use whatever happens to be in the shower when I stay at hotels or with family), and it always takes me a while to find non-toxic products that I like and that work for me and my family. I go through a period of mourning when a product I love is discontinued.

I last wrote about my favorite non-toxic hair products in 2013. Most of those products have been discontinued (sadly), or in some cases I have found something better. So here is an update. This post addresses the hair products my entire family uses.

If you are interested in the nitty gritty of my approach to choosing personal care products and the reasoning behind it, check out this post.

Our Favorite Wooden Block Sets: Open-ended Play for All Ages


Wooden blocks are well-used and well-loved at my house. We use them to build towers, houses, words, villages, roads, skyscrapers, boats, dollhouses and animal villages. We use them to count, weigh, build, balance, measure, and spell. Wooden blocks are never outgrown and never go out of style. They allow adults and all ages of kids to create and play together. My children (now 10, 8, and 6) still play with ours blocks constantly. These are the sets I plan to save and pass down to the grandchildren.

Give Thanks! 10 Favorite Children's Books about Gratitude and Thanksgiving


At my house, we get out Halloween picture books in October, Thanksgiving books in November, and Christmas books in December. But this year, I decided to get out the Halloween and Thanksgiving books together, to give us more time to enjoy the books that celebrate one of my very favorite holidays. I love most everything about Thanksgiving. These children's books, with their stories of gathering, gratitude, and family are some of our favorites.

Simple Kid-friendly Fall Leaf Banner for the Non-crafty


Fall is here!

On a walk around the neighborhood last week, my kids and I spontaneously started collecting a few leaves here and there. I am especially fond of red fall leaves and couldn't resist gathering a couple. By the end of our walk, we had quite a collection and decided to make a leaf banner. We went for another walk a few days later on different streets to look for a few more varieties of leaves and colors.

6 Tips for a Non-toxic Summer



We've been topping 80 degrees regularly for the past few weeks and while slogging through the final month of school my thoughts are all about swimming, sunshine, and SUMMER!

Here are 6 tips for enjoying a safe, healthy, non-toxic summer.

Cover up and use safe, effective sunscreen. 


My preferred method of sun protection is to cover up with long sleeves and hats. But for long days at the beach and other outdoor adventures, you will also need sunscreen. When selecting a sunscreen for my family, I look for sunscreens that use mineral/ physical sunscreens as active ingredients and that offer broad spectrum protection. I choose mineral sunscreens such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as active ingredients rather than chemical sunscreens because chemical sunscreens are known endocrine disruptors. I look for broad spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays since both types of rays have been linked to skin cancer. I avoid sunscreens with controversial nanoparticles (mineral sunscreens are often nano-sized) and harmful inactive ingredients such as Vitamin A/ retinyl palmitate (which may actually speed development of skin cancer), or fragrance. Some of my family's favorite sunscreen products include:

Fresh Creamy Delicious Hummus All the Time (while cleaning your blender just once a month)

Garbanzo beans, tahini, EVOO, salt, lemon juice. Everything you need to make sensational hummus.

Fresh hummus is a constant in my refrigerator. My husband (on a special low salt diet) enjoys it as a daily snack with veggies or his favorite salt-free tortilla chips. My 5yo eats it plain with a spoon (and it works fabulously to keep her naturally sluggish digestive system humming along). My 7yo eats it with pita chips for a delicious and filling after-school snack. I love it with apple slices and carrot sticks. Made from scratch, hummus is fabulously cheap, nutritious, and delicious!

But having fresh homemade hummus on hand all the time used to require me using my blender at least once a week. And I do not enjoy cleaning the blender. For years I cooked large batches of garbanzo beans (a.k.a. chickpeas) from scratch and froze the cooked beans in 2-cup servings to avoid using canned beans. But this required me to remember to defrost the beans and bust out the blender almost weekly in order to have fresh hummus. Now I use my blender about once a month and have fresh, delicious hummus made from dried garbanzo beans available at all times for my family to enjoy.

Here's how I do it.

Falling in Love with Nature: Resources to Help Parents Connect Kids with the Natural World



This post is constantly updated.

Did you know this generation of children is the first ever that will spend more time playing inside than outside? I read that in an article several years ago and it has stuck with me. For years folks have been sounding the alarm about children spending too much time indoors. Although I didn't spend my entire childhood wandering through forests or wild meadows, I did spend a whole lot of time outside playing tag, climbing trees, wandering through empty lots, and looking under rocks for bugs. Helping kids to fall in love with nature is one of my passions. Since I started my blog, I've been documenting my own efforts to connect my kids with nature as well as collecting others' suggestions. It's a topic I have written about many times over the years, and one I plan to write about often in the future.

I created this page as a resource for parents and educators looking for ideas and inspiration about how to connect kids with the natural world. Below you will find links to most of the posts I have written about kids and nature, including:


Scroll to the end of the page for links to additional resources from various organizations.

What Is Wild? And Where Can You Find It?



"What is wild? And where can you find it?" These are the first lines of the wonderfully illustrated picture book Finding Wild, a multi-sensory adventure into the idea of wild. I love this book for how it entices kids to find wild in every place, in the woods as well as on city streets. Luckily for Eco-novice readers, the author Megan Wagner Lloyd is an old friend of mine (and long-time fellow greenie), who has actually written a post and many a comment on this very blog!  So of course I asked her to do a Q & A with me about her fantastic debut picture book.

Games that Teach Kids about the Natural World



I'm always on the lookout for books, games, toys, and tools that help my kids learn about and interact with nature. Here are some of our family's favorite games that teach kids (and grown-ups!) about the natural world. Whether your kids are fans of memory, Pokemon, or Monopoly, you'll find something on this list for them!

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