Monday, March 14, 2011

Book Review and Giveaway: 15 Minutes Outside


Today’s post is part of “Your Green Hour Survival Guide,” a series which I hope will provide inspiration to make getting outside every day a habit.

I’d love to be impartial about this book, but I just can’t do it. That’s because since I received my copy of 15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect With Your Kids a little more than a week ago, it has become my Green Hour Survival Guide bible.

It helps that the story that inspired the book is so relatable. Author Rebecca P. Cohen is a mom of two boys who wondered to herself a little more than a year ago: “What if I got outside every single day, and what if I could get my kids to come along?”

I think I’ll let Rebecca explain her idea a little more in her own words.


15 Minutes Outside from Rebecca P. Cohen on Vimeo.

Why 15 Minutes Outside Is a Must-Have for Nature Lovers
There are several books that provide ideas for getting outside with your kids. Here’s why I especially love this one:
  • The book is organized with monthly chapters that contain 365 simple and creative outdoor activities – that’s one for each day of the year!
  • The ideas aren’t just simple; they’re also low- to no-cost.
  • Sprinkled in throughout the book are lots of other great tips, like how to start a compost pile and top picks for things to take to the beach.
  • Rebecca shares her personal experiences of being outside with her kids throughout the book, providing extra insights and a very down-to-earth read.
When we received our copy, we flipped right to March to see what activity was listed for that very day. The big explorer has since nicknamed 15 Minutes Outside “our adventure book.” (He's also especially proud to have one of our backyard fun ideas included in the book!)

Of course, sometimes we like to go crazy and head outdoors with no plan at all, which 15 Minutes Outside also strongly encourages. 



In addition to writing 15 Minutes Outside, Rebecca Cohen is a spokesmom for the National Wildlife Federation’s Be Out There movement, and the host of her own Get Out of the House television and radio programs. Her company, Rebecca Plants, offers simple gardening and outdoor activities to get you outside every day.

The Giveaway
Rebecca has been kind enough to send along an extra copy of 15 Minutes Outside for me to share with one lucky reader. (You can also purchase a copy on Amazon.) I highly encourage you to enter.

To enter: Leave a comment sharing your favorite way to get outside and explore nature in your own backyard with the kids in your life. Please be sure I can find an email address for you from the profile you use to leave your comment.

The giveaway will run through midnight on Monday, March 21, 2011. The big explorer will be choosing the winner (at random). Good luck and I look forward to reading all of your ideas!

Note: I received a free copy of 15 Minutes Outside for review, but you can be sure I’ve shared my honest opinion of the product here. I encourage you to read my full disclosure policy for more information.

37 comments:

  1. Geocaching! Hiking + treasure hunt= happy kids

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  2. I think parents would be surprised at how important those 15 minutes can be. Hey, it might lead to 30 and even 45.

    Once the ball gets rolling, there's no telling where it will stop.

    LOL..........when my kids were younger, they would complain as soon as I said the work, "hike." But, recently, my oldest daughter went on a 165 bike/hike for her honeymoon.

    You never know where those 15 minutes will lead.

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  3. Cora---my daughter---is 6 months old and we enjoy walking together on a daily basis. Her excitement begins as soon as she sees me strap on the bright green Baby Bjorn. SHE ADORES BEING OUTSIDE. If she's crying it almost instantly calms her.

    ALSO my husband and I lay blankets outside with her toys and love to watch her play. She always ends up pulling up little slivers of grass.

    IT'S NEVER TOO EARLY FOR NATURE in NURTURING YOUR CHILD!

    www.bittyblueberry.blogspot.com

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  4. I've got a new walker, and the snow has finally melted, so we spend our 15-30 minutes literally discovering the backyard - it's a whole new world to her, complete with mud, sticks, flowers, and all sorts of good stuff.

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  5. I enjoy spending time outdoors with my daycare children by pointing out to them the world that is going on out there. Squirrels, naming the birds, finding small bugs, admiring the clouds. Life is too short to pass it by.

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  6. Here's a good activity for children ages 5-7 or older. Give each child an empty egg carton (or 1/2 an egg carton for children ages 2-4)and take a walk outside and try to collect 12 small, different things to fill their carton(or for 1/2 a carton 6 things). This inevitably leads to discoveries and conversations along the way--an ant farm, a bird's nest or an unusual flower or plant. It's also a good time to point out things we don't collect, like poison ivy or living insects. After the walk leave time to share everyone's collections in a circle. Say that you'll be putting their collections aside for a couple days (without peeking!) and ask them how they think their collections will change over the next couple days. Why do they think that? When you look at the collections again discuss if what they hypothesized happened or if there were other unexpected changes to the natural things they collected.
    Thanks!~ Diana

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  7. Our favorite thing to get us outside is to go exploring around our house. We have woods surrounding us and a small pond that is full of frogs. My hope this spring is to do more learning about the birds in our area.

    djodb 5 at yahoo com

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  8. My son's latest favorite outdoor activity is saying hi to squirrels. I love how patient he is... he learned pretty quickly that they run away if he gets too close, so he'll just stand there a few feet away and say "Hi" over and over again. Love watching him make "friends" with nature!

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  9. Pick me, pick me! I would love this book.

    Our favorite activities? Picnics, walks, scavengar hunts, collecting, etc.

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  10. My 2.5 year old loves the outdoors. Sometimes we go to the arboretum or one of the many parks Seattle has, but even just a walk down the street is fun for her. She loves to amble down our block and stop to touch the landscaping rocks, the gravel, the bushes; she sniffs blooms on trees - and long-dead flowers! She looks for and points out squirrels and the neighborhood cats, the crows up in the trees, and the insects. When the sun passes through a thin spot in the clouds, she squints her eyes and says "SUN." When it's raining, she puts her hands up in the air and shouts, "Oh no! It's rayyy-ning." Then she sings, "Rain, rain go away, come again another day," even though she loves the rain. She'll stamp her boots in the shallowest "puy-yul." She loves to find herself a stick and use it to investigate the bark on trees and feel the ridges and bumps in the sidewalk. Unfortunately, we don't have a yard, but I am in the process of setting up our deck to be an outdoor space for her. It's small, but it's covered and gets great light, so I'm planning on putting in a makeshift sandbox, a painting area, and some storage for the things she collects from outside.

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  11. My favorite outside activity with kids is making fairy homes! Use sticks, leaves, rocks, wood, and more to make tiny homes. And, if they are really into it they can make a bed, table, couch, deck.....for their fairies! So much fun.

    http://tamarckstomatoestigerlies.blogspot.com/

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  12. I think it changes every month but right now we're having a lot of fun with our homemade frisbee golf course.

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  13. Oh, I really hope I win! We don't have a favorite way of spending time outside because we never do it! My daughters so need this time with nature, but I am honestly very clueless. I'd love this book and the inspiration to commit to going outside and connecting with nature

    Ledys.e.Chemin @ gmail. com

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  14. I bought a huge bag of rocks (the kind people use for landscaping instead of mulch) from Lowe's that were on sale for $2 because the bag was ripped. I also bought a large pot in which to put the rocks. My daughter and I sit outside with sand toys and buckets, and we sort, wash, and examine those rocks. It could keep her busy for hours!

    wandering_off (at) yahoo (dot) com

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  15. Oh, my favorite: Looking up in our "The Natural Year" book what 3 or 5 or 10 amazing things to go look for outside that are only happening right then! Great for wildflower walks, bird listens, etc. I'm learning so much this way, and the kids get such a sense of earth rhythm from it.

    Peter, peftypefty \at\ gmail /dot/ com.

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  16. Not sure if I can enter from down under?! Sharing anyway though as the book sounds wonderful.

    We love to head out into the backyard with an empty basket. (I always keep an eye out for small sturdy baskets at thrift shops). It's amazing how an empty basket can inspire all kinds of nature collecting activities, and then this often leads to more creating with the treasures!

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  17. Our favorite thing to do is to walk to a nearby stream and find rocks to throw in the water. Endless amounts of fun are always found.
    smj.walton at gmail.com

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  18. We love to take the dogs for a walk and enjoy the surprises that happen along the way!

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  19. Pushing my friend's baby in her stroller and stopping to smell every lavender, rosemary, scented geranium, lemon tree, etc that we walk by. Pretty sure she's going to be an aromatherapist.

    rschermesser at gmail.com

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  20. Having just moved to San Diego in October, we can't get enough time at the beach! We love to look for treasures from the sea - sand dollars, shells, shark teeth, etc.

    If we can't make it to the beach we head to a park and always find new things to explore when the playground has lost the girls' interest.

    Nature scavenger hunts are the best and the girls recently made bug houses, so we've been going on lots of bug hunts in our backyard.

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  21. I like to take walks around the neighborhood with my son and look for neat things. We found a bird skull on a walk to a bus stop earlier today!

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  22. We are looking forward to getting the garden started again. It's a great way to get out for a few minutes after work everyday!

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  23. We do as much as we can outside. We do our school outside, throw the ball with our dog, make peanut butter feeders for the birds, etc.
    We also spend time outside in our community. Since we homeschool and have our own support group we started this school year we are able to increase the time we spend outside by attending an outdoor Co-op year round, outdoor nature classes and more. My children are happiest when they are outside:)

    This book 15 Minutes Outside sounds wonderful!

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  24. We love letterboxing (which is like low tech geo-caching www.letterboxing.org )....and I also gave each of my kids a tree for their very own....they can do anything they want to the tree (water it, pick the flowers/leaves, decorate it seasonally, etc) and it really gives them a sense of ownership over the tree....at christmas we make natural/bird food ornaments, for their trees, etc.....those have been two great ways to get my kids outdoors.... catherine.schrader@yahoo.com

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  25. I love to bug hunt with my kids. My son especially loves to dig for worms and look under stones for grubs. We also have some great parks nearby that have creeks running through them. My kids love to explore the creeks and catch things they find. rachelereyna@gmail.com

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  26. We love to explore the woods surrounding our house during the different seasons, but there's always plenty to do in our own yard....bird watching, lots and lots of gardening, pond exploration, and the favorite of my 10 year old daughter, fairy house building.

    Thanks so much for the chance to win this wonderful book.

    ~~Anne
    diligntmom@gmail.com

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  27. Great giveaway! One of our favorite things to do "in our own backyard" is an after dinner walk around the neighborhood. Sometimes it is a scavenger hunt, sometimes it's a treasure hunt or a search for signs of spring (summer/fall/winter) and sometimes it is just dragging sticks and throwing rocks (gently into the street).

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  28. I ran environmental ed camps, touching the lives of hundreds of children, for several summers. I am constantly seeking ideas for more ways to get children invested in nature, especially those that are inexpensive/free, and a quick fix for shorter attention spans. The more lives touched, the better!

    ~Kris

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  29. I love getting kids dirty outside! When they are crawling around and climbing trees and boulders, they are actively engaged in the world around them. Geocaching is another favorite...and of course, scavenger hunts! :-)

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  30. Tayden will be spending a year outside as we explore America's wilderness areas. He love to learn the new sights, sounds, and textures of nature so we figured why not live outside :-)

    www.exodusfamily.com

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  31. Any adventure outside. My son and I love road trips to any Southern California destination, whether it be a zoo, beach, Ostrich farm, miniature horse ranch, anything! Jackie

    Jackieolson17@hotmail.com

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  32. I love getting my kids outside. Though they don't have a game system or watch any television, they still can hole up in their rooms reading books or playing boardgames. I built a new deck on our suburban house this past year to encourage them to go out more, and we've begun exploring the fields around our neighborhood. My oldest daughter, 16, just discovered some old bones (cow, probably) around a pond near our house, and we've gotten out more on walks to look for birds and other wildlife. Would love to get a copy of the book, so I'm hoping to win!

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  33. What a great giveaway. It doesn't take much persuasion to get my Little Ladies and I outside. Water + dirt = mud!! It is as basic as it gets and provides them hours of entertainment. Throw in a shovel and a bucket and off they go to find the many different critters hiding in the earth. Give them some flowers and they turn into little gardners. Strip off their clothes and they are taking a mud bath. I just love watching their imaginations embrace all the nature that surrounds them.

    Mel - melisa_estrada@yahoo.com

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  34. I love to go outside and look at the trees, check for frogs in our stream, watch the hawks circling overhead, see what's growing or watch the birds building a nest. Sometimes my younger son (age 10) and I wander over to Moss Mountain. It's a tiny little bump covered in moss. The fairies live there and we like to leave a small gift (an acorn or a pretty rock) for them. Sometimes we do a little clean up for them as well.

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    1. Oh Kim, that sounds like such fun! I love Moss Mountain and the fairies who live there! :-)

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  35. One day while my granddaughters visited we wanted "outdoortime" we went to the local lake a water reservoir for the city and walked along the trails. To change it up this time we together picked up trash along the way and cleaned up the trail. We felt good about picking it up and in so doing hopefully encouraged others to take care of what we have. Respectfully submitted kmc749@gmail.com

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    1. What a wonderful way to spend time outdoors! Thanks so much for sharing. (BTW, the giveaway for this book closed in 2011.)

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