Friday, December 17, 2010

The Green Hour

Book Review

Some of you have asked about the book, The Green Hour. Our very own, Christina, wrote a great review of the book.

Thank you for the opportunity to review "The Green Hour: A Daily Dose
of Nature for Happier, Healthier, Smarter Kids" by Todd Christopher.
This book is a well-crafted "how-to" on exploring nature with your
kids. Based on the notion that kids (and many adults!) need to be
taught how to appreciate the outdoors these days, it's comprised of
essentially lesson plans on how to make this happen for you and your

Organized like user-friendly manual, it begins with a short section on
the theoretical foundations for the book, namely a "green hour" each
day--"a time for unstructured play and interaction with the natural
world." The author cites several studies on the effects of media on
our increasingly sedentary lifestyles. One of my favorite lines is,
"In the span of a single generation, the children who wore out the
knees of their own pants have become the parents of children who wear
out the seats of theirs." Yikes! As an educator, I was pleased with
the inclusion and relative use of Bloom's Taxonomy in relation to the
lessons offered in the book. The author also offers a nod to
Montessori philosophy and the theory of "multiple intelligences," and
how these too are relative to the spirit and intent of the book.

The bulk of the book is organized into six sections with several
lessons within each section.
Below are the sections with a sample activity:

1. Your Own Backyard (Backyard Scavenger Hunt)
2. On the Trail (Saving Tracks)
3. Over in the Meadow (Sprouting Seeds)
4. It's a Shore Thing (Make a Water Scope)
5. Whatever the Weather (Measuring the Wind)
6. Eyes on the Skies (Find North)

Along with lessons and activities, sections include several call-out
boxes titled "Did You Know?", "Tip", "Book Nook," and "Remember."
"Did You Know?" from Your Own Backyard: "A butterfly that lands on a
person may be attracted to the saltiness of the person's skin, the
result of perspiration."

"Tip" from It's a Shore Thing: "Learn more about International Coastal
Cleanup and how your family can help, at"

"Book Nook" from Over in the Meadow: "'A Seed is Sleepy' by Diana
Hutts Aston. Illustrated by Sylvia Long. Age range: 5 to 10. With
Colorful text that alternates between lyrical and informative, this
thoughtfully presented book serves as a fine introduction to the world
of seeds. The detailed, outsized watercolor-and0ink illustrations give
the work picture-book appeal while remaining grounded in scientific

"Remember" from Over in the Meadow: "Never pick--or eat--any wild
fruit or berry unless you are certain of its identity and have
permission to do so."

Ending with a hearty resource section, I think this book offers a
family a treasure box of outdoor experiences. Most of the activities
are designed for older children, around 6 or so, but are an
inspiration for any age (I think many of the lessons can be
adapted/simplified for young ones). It makes a nice companion to
Richard Louv's "Last Child in the Woods."

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