Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Get Outside--A List

Here's 15 things to do to get you and your kids outside, from Iowa.

A sample:

Plant specific trees and bushes in your backyard that can provide food and shelter for birds, as well as food for insects. The key is variety, said wildlife specialist Jim Pease. “The greater the variety, the more different kinds of insects it will attract, as well as birds,” he said.

When possible, stick with native plants, the Iowa State University Extension expert said. Avoid invasive plants such as bush honeysuckle, buckthorn and purple loosestrife. Pease suggests:


Nanking cherry


•Arrowwood viburnum




•Wild plum

•Bee balm

•Legume plants

•Purple or gray-headed coneflower

•Brown-eyed Susan

In addition, USA Today had a good article last week on Taking a Cloud Walk.

Take a Cloud Walk encourages children to experience nature firsthand -- to "take a minute to be in it." As the title suggests, the main focus of the book is cloud identification. Readers learn to distinguish and name low, middle and high-level clouds, and there are example photos to test their identification skills. Once cloud identification is covered, readers learn about the different types of precipitation -- rain, snow, sleet and hail -- that come from the clouds. The book also tackles the complex role that clouds play in climate change. Of course, since the book encourages kids to enjoy the outdoors, it also instructs them about when not to take a cloud walk with a section on severe weather safety. While experiencing nature is the focus of this book and the whole Take a Walk series, documenting these experiences in a nature journal or even one's own cloud book is encouraged and writing tips are provided.