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Summer Reading Recommendations

FOSS Newsletter Staff
June 18, 2019 | Uncategorized

This summer we thought we'd revisit some books that helped inspire FOSS staff to embed outdoor learning throughout our program and have motivated many readers to do more teaching and learning outside. Consider reading at the beach, in a hammock under your favorite trees, or in a tent on a rainy summer day.

Cover to Last Child in the Woods

Last Child in the Woods:
Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

By Richard Louv
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, NC, 2008.

Today's wired generation is the focus of this work linking the absence of nature in today's children to trends in obesity, attention disorders, and depression. Louv uses recent research to suggest that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development. This book should bring about challenging discussions about how "nature deficit" affects students in your classroom.

Cover to Beyond Ecophobia

Beyond Ecophobia: Reclaiming the Heart of Nature Education
By David Sobel
The Orion Society's Nature Literacy Series, Great Barrington, MA, 1999.

If you teach, or feel you should teach, about environmental issues to students in grades K–8, then it is essential that you read this book. Sobel's primary argument is that well-intentioned educators often dive into issues about how humans are destroying Earth (rain forests are burning, polar bears are dying, oil is killing everything) at too young of an age. He writes, "What's important is that children have an opportunity to bond with the natural world, to learn to love it, before being asked to heal its wounds." He proposes three phases of environmental curricula, "In early childhood, activities should center on enhancing the developmental tendency toward empathy with the natural world; in middle childhood, exploration should take precedence; and in the early adolescence, social action should assume a more central role."

If you would like to read more from David Sobel see his article "Climate Change Meets Ecophobia." Connect® Vol. 21, No. 2, Nov./Dec. 2007.

Cover to Schoolyard-Enhanced Learning

Schoolyard-Enhanced Learning: Using the Outdoors as an Instructional Tool, K-8
By Herbert W. Broda
Stenhouse Publishers, Portland, ME, 2007.

This book incorporates research from experts who are working to connect children to the outdoor world. It is thoroughly researched, exciting to read, and grounded in the realities of today's school experiences. Broda writes, "Although there are many good reasons for taking students outside—educational, social, aesthetic, recreational—I have to admit that one of my most compelling reasons is to provide opportunities for kids to experience that sense of wonder... The more we take children outside for learning activities, the greater the probability for moments of awe and insight." This book gives you everything you need to start using the schoolyard.

Cover to Creating Outdoor Classrooms

Creating Outdoor Classrooms: Schoolyard Habitats and Gardens for the Southwest
By Lauri Macmillan Johnson with Kim Duffek
Illustrated by James Richards
University of Texas Press, Austin, TX, 2008.

If you're designing an outdoor classroom anywhere in the country, you will collect valuable information from this sophisticated book, despite the fact that it is specifically written for schoolyard habitats in the Southwest. Johnson writes, "Schoolyards can be developed as outdoor classrooms that are spirited and interactive places for integrated and place-based learning. Children can play a major role in the design and implementation of the place. Characterized by natural, cultural, and artistic features, schoolyard outdoor classrooms can be dynamic..." The book is packed with information about design, design features (including shade structures—which are important to consider all over the country), community building, maintenance, art features, and great ways to include students in the design process.

Cover to Ten-Minute Field Trips

Ten-Minute Field Trips: A Teacher's Guide to Using the Schoolgrounds for Environmental Studies
By Helen Ross Russel
NSTA Press, Arlington, VA, 2001.

Don't let the fact that this book was originally published in 1973 fool you into skipping it; it is quite timely for today's teacher. The economy has drained the once available funding for field trips. Ten-minute field trips are something you have time for and can afford! This book is brimming with ideas for things to try and observe right outside the classroom door. Russell embraces the use of the schoolyard no matter where your school is located; many of the mini field trips described in this book can be performed on the asphalt of an urban schoolyard. Russell presents straightforward background knowledge for you and thoughtful inquiry questions for your students.