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Resources - Roots 3:2 Environmental Education and Play

Volume 3 Number 2 - October 2006

BGCI education department

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

In his thought-provoking book, journalist Richard Louv highlights the gulf between children and the outdoors, linking the absence of nature to some of the most disturbing childhood trends, such as the rises in obesity, attention disorders, and depression.  Louv uses the term Nature-deficit disorder  to describe the human costs of alienation from nature.  This is the first book to bring together a new and growing body of research indicating that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults. More than just raising an alarm, Louv offers practical solutions and simple ways to heal the broken bond. This is a powerful book that has significant implications for botanic gardens, particularly those located in urban environments.

Richard Louv, 2006
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, USA, 334 pp.
ISBN: 978-1-56512-522-3
A division of Workman Publishing, 708 Broadway, New York, NY 10003.

Nature’s Playground: Activities, crafts and games to encourage children to get outdoors

This delightful illustrated book is a guide to introducing children to the great outdoors through fun activities in nature. Designed for use by families, carers, play workers and teachers, the book sets out guidelines for safe and engaging play outdoors, with useful tips on how to hold children's attention on longer excursions. The book is divided into seasons, with activities appropriate to each. For example, in spring, children can explore aquatic life in ponds and streams, collect material to make birds' nests or look out for growing bulbs; in autumn they can collect berries or make collages with fallen leaves. Throughout the book, the emphasis is on helping children gain an appreciation of nature's patterns, giving them confidence in the outdoor environment in a way that is educational, safe and, above all, fun.

Fiona Danks and Jo Schofield, 2005
Frances Lincoln, London, UK, 160pp
ISBN: 0-7112-2491-9
Frances Linoln Ltd, 4 Torriano Mews, Torriano Avenue, London NW5 2RZ, UK.
Nature’s Playground is also available in France under the title 4 Saisons d’activites Nature en Famille, published by Nathan. 


Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive

In this epic and absorbing book, Jared Diamond unravels the mysterious collapse of past civilizations and examines what this might mean for our future. He poses such questions as ‘Why do some societies flourish, while others founder?’, ‘What happened to the people who made the long-abandoned statues of Easter Island or to the architects of the crumbling Mayan pyramids?’, ‘Will we go the same way, our skyscrapers one day standing derelict and overgrown like the temples at Angkor Wat?’   Diamond brings together new evidence from a range of sources and pieces together the many influences that make societies self-destruct.  He attempts to demonstrate that, how unlike our ancestors we can benefit from our knowledge of the past and learn to be survivors.

Jared Diamond, 2006
Penguin, London, UK, 592 pp
ISBN 9780140279511
Penguin Group UK,  80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, UK

Planet in Peril: An Atlas of Current Threats to People and the Environment

Plants in Peril brings together a wealth of information from the most up-to-date sources on key issues such as climate change, access to water, exploitation of ocean resources, renewable energy, genetically modified organisms and urban development.  Written by an international team of specialists, this Atlas uses text, maps, graphics and diagrams to illustrate the interplay of relationships between the world’s population and its ecosystems and natural resources.  Philippe Rekacewicz, geographer cartographer for the Atlas, writes that ‘Understanding our troubled world is not an easy task and the pace of change is ever quickening’.  This Atlas provides a sharp perspective on environmental issues and is an excellent resource for educators.

UNEP/GRID-Arendal and Le Monde diplomatique, 42pp
GRID-Arendal publications may be ordered or purchased through EarthPrint, the official online bookshop of the United Nations Environment Programme.


The Genius of Play: Celebrating the Spirit of Childhood

The Genius of Play addresses what play is, why it matters, and how modern life endangers children's play. Here is an outspoken ‘Children's Play Charter’ for parents and teachers, which celebrates the playful spirit of childhood. Sally Jenkinson asks:

  • What do children express in their play?
  • How does play develop empathy and social skills?
  • How are children influenced by inappropriate toys, TV and consumerism?
  • How does play develop children's imaginations?
  • Why do children need adults who encourage play?
  • How lively childhood players become creative adult thinkers?

Sally Jenkinson, 2005
Hawthorn Press, 224pp
ISBN 1 903458 048
32 Finlas Street, Cowlairs Estate, Glasgow, G22 5DU, UK



Interpscan – An Association for Heritage Interpretation

Interpretation Canada (IC) is a professional association of heritage interpreters run by volunteers.  IC offers a range of benefits for international members, including:

  • four issues per year of InterpScan, the quarterly journal of Interpretation Canada.  "One of the best professional interpretation periodicals anywhere" (Sam Ham, 2005)
  • networking opportunities
  • online access to books and resources
  • information about workshops, conferences and meetings. 

Approximately 500 members participate in national programmess across Canada.  IC’s ultimate goal is to enhance the development of theory and practice in the field of heritage interpretation.

A Goodman

‘A Goodman’ is a communications consulting firm that helps public interest groups, foundations and progressive businesses reach more people more effectively.  Their website contains several very useful publications.  In particular:

  • Why bad presentations happen to good causes and how to ensure they won’t happen to yours.  Based on research into presentations given by nonprofits, foundations, and government agencies, this book shows why so many presentations fail to engage, educate or persuade and how you can avoid the most common mistakes.
  • Storytelling as Best Practice.  Written for public communicators, this booklet looks at why stories are your most powerful tool, how to build and use a story bank and how stories can make you a more effective presenter.

Wild About Play

Wild About Play is a networking project based in South West England to support, develop and promote environmental play.  Their new website contains several interesting articles.  They also plan to include resources on a number of topics that will help facilitate environmental play, for example, activity ideas, ideas for environmental play, equipment and resources lists, health and safety information and funding sources.