Book of Nature Projects.
Article Type: Book review
Subject: Books (Book reviews)
Author: Monsour, Chris
Pub Date: 02/01/2010
Publication: Name: The American Biology Teacher Publisher: National Association of Biology Teachers Audience: Academic; Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Biological sciences; Education Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 National Association of Biology Teachers ISSN: 0002-7685
Issue: Date: Feb, 2010 Source Volume: 72 Source Issue: 2
Topic: NamedWork: Book of Nature Projects (Nonfiction work)
Persons: Reviewee: Lawlor, Elizabeth
Accession Number: 245037737
Full Text: Book of Nature Projects. By Elizabeth Lawlor. 2008. Stackpole Books. (ISBN 9780817734806). 304 pages. Paperback. $19.95.

Book of Nature Projects is for people who want to learn more about the environment around them. Whether it be in the backyard, at the seashore, or just listening at night, this book provides the tools to accomplish over 150 hands-on activities. This is a great resource for teachers who want to get students back in touch with nature or for environmental educators looking for activities to do year round. The book is versatile because it allows for a variety of settings, including traditional and nontraditional classrooms. With this book, even an urban teacher can get students outside and engaged.

With a little bit of curiosity and some household items, children and adults alike can explore a wide variety of topics. These include animals, plants, weather, geology, biology, astronomy, and many others. The book is well organized, with chapters that focus on the house, the garden, winter, and the seashore. Whatever the time of year or topic, there is an activity with easy-to-follow directions and assessment ideas. If you're planning a vacation to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, begin reading about life at the seashore on page 209. You can do activities such as watching barnacles feed, observing sea stars, and collecting seaweeds.

Among the positive aspects of the book are the simple, nonintrusive methods of exploring the natural world. Each activity that involves animals, whether insects, reptiles, or mammals, includes a piece about treating the animal with care and replacing it where it was found. With this in mind, the author has provided activities that allow one to "investigate how fragile these communities of living things can be" and learn about "each organism's place in the web of life" (p. 1). Many of the activities also allow one to reflect upon what one saw or to think through some of the questions raised during an exploration. For those of us who use journals in class, this book provides a great opportunity for students to collect and reflect on observations made during an investigation.

The most important aspect of the book is its emphasis on doing science. Collecting and analyzing data, making conclusions, and being able to extend the investigation are key parts to all the activities. No fancy or expensive equipment is required. All of the equipment needed can be found around the house. A small sandwich bag, a ruler, a bug box, and a field notebook are some of the common materials for explorations.

Finally, the book is written in a way that is not too technical and engages the reader. Being one who has taught as an environmental educator and a classroom teacher, I give the book 5 frogs for its creative and hands-on approach to discovering the world around us.

Chris Monsour

Tiffin Columbian High School

Tiffin, OH 44883

chris_monsour@tiffin.k12.oh.us
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