Learning With Nature Idea Book
by Nancy Rosenow, James R. Wike, and Valerie Cuppens

Price at time of review: $19.99
52 pp.
National Arbor Day Foundation
Lincoln, NE
ISBN: 9780963465702

Grade Level: K-3

Reviewed by Judy Kraus
Science Teacher, Hyde Park Middle School

Encouraging children to interact with the environment and establishing a setting in which to promote conservation are the goals of this collaborative project of the National Arbor Day Foundation and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation. The Learning With Nature Idea Book: Creating Nurturing Outdoor Spaces for Children is a resource designed to reconnect children with nature. The 10 guiding principles for the establishment of an outdoor classroom appeal to multiple intelligences by emphasizing multi-sensory experiences and accessibility.

Each principle is described and defined, its importance in a child’s connectivity to nature is explained, and ideas for implementation of the principle are detailed. For example, the first principle states that designers should “Divide the space into clearly delineated areas for different kinds of activities.” In establishing an environment, natural borders should be considered and activities separated based on their noise and activity level. Providing order in a stimulating environment will enable children to experience nature in the various areas without distractions. Several examples are described and pictured, allowing readers to envision the possibilities.

This is a structured resource for anyone who wants to design an outdoor space for children. Recommended areas from an entry way or open area for large motor activities to a nature art area or a garden pathway are portrayed in words and photographs that exhibit the potential configuration in the creation of an outdoor classroom. Individual needs and climate considerations are mentioned as well as ways to work with community resources to create a successful, nurturing space and garner support (both in terms of manpower and finances). Sample plans ranging from 2500 square feet to 10,000 square feet are featured, with suggestions for creating your own plan regardless of the challenges. Enthusiasts who want to implement a well-designed outdoor space, conduct staff development, and involve families will find information about becoming a certified Nature Explore Classroom, a national initiative recognizing a commitment to nature education.

Review posted on 8/22/2007

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