Thursday, July 25, 2013

Nature Nook Book Group

Last night we had another Nature Nook book group at Woodlawn Nature Center. Basically, we all read a predetermined book centered on nature in some way and get together and discuss it. We pull out the salient points, discuss how we might use the book, share additional resources, use study helps from the Nature Center, and enjoy talking to each other about the book. Reading the book is helpful; however, it is not necessary. We started the group as a few recent Indiana Master Naturalist graduates that wanted to keep meeting together and read the books we received as part of our training. It's a great program starting up again soon. Here is a local article about the IMN training. If you love nature and love reading, Nature Nook could be a perfect combination!

Tonight we discussed Life in the Soil: A Guide for Naturalists and Gardeners by James B. Nardi which examines the many components that make up soil. It starts with an introduction to the components of soil, has a large reference section that includes animals found in soil, shares ways to care for soil, and contains a section on how to study the soil. Several of us used the glossary in the back for unknown terms, too. We had a great discussion on a world we typically don't think of that is right underneath our feet on a daily basis.

We also looked rounded out our list of upcoming books through March 2014. We generally meet at Woodlawn Nature Center at 6:30 on the 4th Thursday of the month, though there are a few exceptions around the holidays.

August 22nd—The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan

"A national bestseller that has changed the way readers view the ecology of eating, this revolutionary book by award winner Michael Pollan asks the seemingly simple question: What should we have for dinner? Tracing from source to table each of the food chains that sustain us -- whether industrial or organic, alternative or processed -- he develops a portrait of the American way of eating."

September 26thAmerica As Seen by Its First Explorers: The Eyes of Discovery (Dover Language Books & Travel Guides) by John Bakeless

"Fascinating portrait of the New World as the first explorers and settlers experienced it — Manhattan teeming with wildflowers, Boston with beavers, Chicago with a buffalo run. Based on scores of original journals, diaries and letters, authentic Indian narratives." 

October 24thNever Cry Wolf : Amazing True Story of Life Among Arctic Wolves by Farley Mowat

"More than a half-century ago the Canadian Wildlife Service assigned the naturalist Farley Mowat to investigate why wolves were killing arctic caribou. Mowat's account of the summer he lived in the frozen tundra alone-studying the wolf population and developing a deep affection for the wolves (who were of no threat to caribou or man) and for a friendly Inuit tribe known as the Ihalmiut ("People of the Deer")-is a work that has become cherished by generations of readers, an indelible record of the myths and magic of wild wolves."

November 21stKeepers of the _______ by Michael J. Caduto and Joseph Bruchac

There are several books like this, such as Keepers of the Animals, Keepers of the Nights, etc. It contains Native American traditional stories, combined with ways to teach nature and environmental education. These are great reference books. We'll all read one chapter of one of the books to present and share. Hint, borrow a copy or buy a used copy for about $4 shipped. 

"The flagship book in the Keepers of the Earth series, this environmental classic teaches children respect and stewardship for the Earth and all living things. Joseph Bruchac's lyrical retellings set the stage for Michael Caduto's abundance of related activities.

Beginning with Native American stories, this invaluable and time-honored resource provides readers with an abundance of hands-on activities that will inspire children to understand and appreciate Native American cultures and the Earth.

Connects to social studies, science, environmental studies and other content areas.Uses a holistic approach suitable for all ages.Provides field-tested activities.Includes charts, illustrations and graphs to enhance the projects and concepts.

When the stories and activities in this book and its companion teacher's guide are followed carefully as children progress from kindergarten through the primary grades, roughly ages five through twelve years, they provide a complete program of study in the important concepts and topics of ecology and natural history. As the stories unfold and you help the children to bring the activities to life, a holistic, interdisciplinary approach to teaching about the Earth and Native American cultures begins. These stories and activities weave together lessons both directly and through metaphors and have been enjoyed by families as well as in camp settings, nature centers, environmental education programs, public and private schools, library story hours, and in both rural and urban settings."

December 19th--Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival by Bernd Heinrich

"From award-winning writer and biologist Bernd Heinrich, an intimate, accessible and eloquent illumination of animal survival in Winter.

From flying squirrels to grizzly bears, torpid turtles to insects with antifreeze, the animal kingdom relies on some staggering evolutionary innovations to survive winter. Unlike their human counterparts, who must alter their environment to accommodate our physical limitations, animals are adaptable to an amazing range of conditions--i.e., radical changes in a creature's physiology take place to match the demands of the environment. Winter provides an especially remarkable situation, because of how drastically it affects the most elemental component of all life: water.

Examining everything from food sources in the extremely barren winter landscape to the chemical composition that allows certain creatures to survive, Heinrich's Winter World awakens the largely undiscovered mysteries by which nature sustains herself through the harsh, cruel exigencies of winters"

January—Walden: (Or Life in the Woods) by Henry David Thoreau

"Walden is one of the best-known non-fiction books ever written by an American. It details Thoreau's sojourn in a cabin near Walden Pond, amidst woodland owned by his friend and mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson. Walden was written with expressed seasonal divisions. Thoreau hoped to isolate himself from society in order to gain a more objective understanding of it. Simplicity and self-reliance were Thoreau's other goals, and the whole project was inspired by Transcendentalist philosophy. As pertinent and relevant today as it was when it was first written."

February—Alone: The Journey of the Boy Sims by Alan K. Garinger

My son's teacher introduced this to me. It's like Sign of the Beaver set in Indiana in 1830. Here is my review. I loved it!

"Orphaned at thirteen, pioneer Joshua Sims joins a survey crew helping to build Michigan Road in order to pay for his family's northern Indiana homestead. When the surveyors' ink supply is accidentally lost in the Tippecanoe River, Sims is ordered to travel alone to Detroit, Michigan, to obtain more. Traveling by foot, boat, and horseback, Sims meets runaway slaves, Native Americans, canal builders, and other frontier figures as he journeys to Fort Wayne, across Lake Erie, and along the Sauk Trail in Michigan. Sims's encounters force him to re-evaluate his beliefs about the people in the rapidly changing land he now calls home."

"The Bluebird Effect is about the change that's set in motion by one single act, such as saving an injured bluebird—or a hummingbird, swift, or phoebe. Each of the twenty five chapters covers a different species, and many depict an individual bird, each with its own personality, habits, and quirks. And each chapter is illustrated with Zickefoose's stunning watercolor paintings and drawings. Not just individual tales about the trials and triumphs of raising birds, The Bluebird Effect mixes humor, natural history, and memoir to give readers an intimate story of a life lived among wild birds."