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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2011
Review originally posted on MoanaSaves (dot) com
"What if I got outside every single day, and what if I could get my kids to come along? It would be easier to pull this off in the middle of summer, but what if we did it all year round, no matter what the weather was like?"

These are Rebecca Cohen's words in the introduction to her book 15 Minutes Outisde, 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids. At the time when Rebecca had this outdoorsy idea she and her husband had demanding corporate jobs and it seemed the moments she was at home were spent indoors rushing from one demand to the next, leaving her at the end of the day feeling exhausted and unfulfilled in regards to time spent with her children. Well, I'm not a working mom but I can definitely relate with the life of running around without really spending time with my kids outside.

After reading this book I think I can honestly say that it's my new best friend. 365 ideas of how to spend meaningful time with my kids outside? This translates to: 1) bonding time with my children 2) cleaner house because we're outside! 3) getting the wiggles out 4) great health benefits 5) increased appreciation of nature 6) low to no cost entertainment ... and the list goes on and on. This book's worth is priceless!

Last week was spring break and I took the opportunity to try a few of the book's ideas on my kids. Our first favorite was "get to know a tree" where one person closes their eyes and another leads them to a tree where they use their sensory skills (excluding sight) to observe the tree. That person is then led to a central location where they open their eyes and try to guess what tree they touched. My kids loved trying to fool Mommy with this fun activity. Our second favorite activity, one that I'm sure we'll continue with for months to come, was creating a nature journal. My kids loved writing short stories of our adventures, journaling interesting seeds or leaves they found, describing and drawing pictures of new birds or bugs, etc.

15 Minutes Outside is filled with thought-provoking ideas on how you can spend time outdoors with your children. The book is broken into 12 chapters with month headings with an activity per day of the month. To keep things interesting the author includes random highlighted text boxes that help you reevaluate your time spent outdoors and make it better than it already is. There are ideas for all seasons, genders, ages, locations, etc. I highly recommend the purchase of this book to any mother, grandmother, aunt or even babysitter who is looking for new and innovative ways to enjoy time outdoors with children.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2011
I'm somewhat surprised at how useful this book has been to me. How hard is it to think of things to do outside? But I love that I can flip through it quickly (by month and day) and see quick, easy to pull off activities for my family. I'm a strong believer in getting kids outside, but live a busy life (like most everyone) and don't always make time for the outdoors. Already this week, we've planted peas, onions and spinach, pulled on rain boots and splashed in melting snow and took a walk in our small creek. And you know what? Rebecca is right, outdoors time is like a release valve for our family. We all are in a better mood, with just a small amount of time outside. Thanks!
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on August 10, 2011
We are having such a great time with some of the ideas in this book. I picked it up off of the library shelf on a whim and was captivated. I decided just to try inviting my kids to do the activities with me every day instead of nagging them to turn off the t.v. The ideas are simple, and inexpensive, often things you could have thought of yourself, but didn't. It's nice to have a quick list to look out so you don't have to plan anything or be creative when you are busy. Fifteen minutes is so achievable. I thought my kids would drag their feet and want to stay inside because they are addicted to electronics but I think I underestimated how much they wanted to spend time with me. Every day they ask me "Hey mom can we spend 15 minutes outside today?" Once we are outside, the neighbor kids come over to play and the fifteen minutes turns into hours, even if I go back inside to do what I need to do after a while. I am really glad I found this book when I did before their childhood slips away.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2011
After realizing she was not giving her family the rich experience of enjoying the great outdoors, Rebecca Cohen made an important resolution for herself and her family: to get outside for a few minutes every single day. On the surface, that seems like a pretty easy resolution, after all, it's only fifteen minutes. Until you to get to the Every. Single. Day. part of that resolution. That's a lot of cold, wet and snowy days, not to mention lazy mom days. This book puts up a good fight by making it fun and easy to get your bums outdoors with a minimum of fuss or thought.

I give Rebecca a lot of credit for sticking with her resolution and getting out there - and then writing this to give everyone else a hand! To help on harried days, she composed a list of fifty easy outdoor activities and posted it by their back door. The activities in this book are designed to be simple and low cost. You won't need fancy equipment or special clothing. I like that the book is divided into months of the year, with a weather appropriate outdoor suggestion for every single day in that month, for a total of 365 outdoor ideas. That organization makes it simple to pick up book, flip to the appropriate month and select an activity to try. Cool, huh?

But she doesn't just list thirty items in a boring column. Each one is a small paragraph explaining why the activity is worth doing or how her family had fun with it. For May, some of the suggestions are to invite birds into your garden with bird feeders, host an informal garden tea party, play kickball with the whole family, or check on your seedlings in the garden. One of my favorites was setting up a clear bag with dirt, worms and table scraps, then watching the compost break down.

Of course, I thought some of her ideas were better than others, but that is to be expected in a book of this nature. Overall, I loved the concept, her enthusiasm and the outdoor activities she provided. We will be putting this book to good use - starting this month!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Fifteen Minutes Outside is a book dedicated to families who want to spend more time outside and are looking for some simple, creative ways to have fun in the great outdoors. The book lists ideas for each day of the year, in chronological order, and it serves as a good reference for those parents who want to do something but could use a quick reference to generate ideas.

Most of us are fully aware that children do not play outdoors the way they did in the past. Television, computers, electronic games, and other things have taken the place of physical activity and the health consequences are obvious. Adults are often equally bad, watching television or spending excess hours online when they could be enjoying some outdoor time with the family. This book aims to get you and the kids out of the home and into contact with the great outdoors and it has enough suggestions to keep you and the family busy for a very long time.

I agree that everyone should try to spend more time outdoors and as I read the different ideas presented in this guide, I noticed a few things. For one, some of the ideas require certain, specific materials that some families may not have available and may require making a small purchase. However, others are cost and trouble free and involve nothing more than walking outside and playing a game, picking a plant, or gathering leaves. The majority of the ideas involve no expenditures- all you need is access to a lawn, trees, flowers, etc., and the physical ability to get to them.

Most of the ideas presented in this book are obvious and I like that the author took the time to come up with a different activity for each day of the year. If there is one small criticism to make about the book's ideas, it would be that the book assumes that readers live in areas of the United States that have four distinct seasons. I started to read this book and immediately noticed that January, February, and part of March suggest activities that involve snow and cold weather. These activities won't apply to those of us who live in warmer climates. Only when I got to April did I find things appropriate for warmer weather. So, a good number of ideas in this guide do not apply to someone who lives in a tropical or subtropical climate. This limits the book a little, but it will be just fine for the majority of residents in the U.S. since most people do live in normal, four season climates.

Outdoor family time isn't what it used to be, but this book wants to reverse the trend and get you and the kids away from the electronics and back in touch with nature. The book is loaded with creative ways to get outside and while not all of the ideas will appeal to all children or adults there are enough suggestions to make the book useful for everyone.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2011
Going outside everyday with your kids is easier than you think, and there are lots of good reasons to do so. That's the premise of a new book by gardening and outdoor lifestyle expert Rebecca P. Cohen. Frustrated that the demands of her business and daily life kept her from spending as much time with her two young sons as she wanted, Cohen made a commitment that she would spend at least 15 minutes outside with them every day.

Even when the weather was extremely cold or very hot, Cohen stuck to the plan, and she found that her family's new outdoor-oriented lifestyle was healthy not just for the kids, but for her and her husband as well. Cohen writes, "With some fresh air and movement, I feel grounded, active, and strong, yet relaxed."

Using her own experience, Cohen gathered a list of ideas and tips to help you put them into action in her book, 15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect With Your Kids. The recommendations you'll find there are inspiring in many ways. While some may not work for your area, like riding public transportation to an outing, some are simple enough for almost everyone, like going outside to enjoy the sunset or having a picnic lunch. After reading about Cohen's experience you're sure to be motivated to come up with ideas for your own family.

While you'll certainly find that many of the activities work best for younger children, you can also adapt many of them to appeal to your older kids as well. Check out more ideas on Cohen's website. There you can watch TV episodes Cohen has produced with ideas for getting out of the house, and you can view other products she has created, like her curiosity cards, great for taking along on a walk to help engage your kids with the world around them.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2013
A lot of the things are a little repetitive. She leaves lots of leeway for you to adjust her ideas for your family. This could be good, or bad, depending on the amount of guidance you need. I think it's good encouragement for getting your family outside.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 23, 2014
I really love this book. I bought it because I know I should get my kids outside more, but sometimes I run out of ideas. This book is great for that! It is very encouraging, but not preachy at all - it has a great discussion of why you should get your kids outside that I found very inspiring. The 15 minute goal is great because it's very doable. It is so hot in Texas in the summer that I often just can't stand the thought of going outside, but knowing it's just for 15 minutes is usually enough to get me out - and once we're out, we usually stay out for much longer than 15 minutes. There are so many ideas in this book, and they are grouped by month, which makes it really easy to find some seasonally appropriate ideas. Sometimes I read one of her ideas and it inspires a totally different activity, or I modify one of her activities in some way. Getting the kids outside works magic. Bad attitudes disappear in fresh air!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2015
I agree whole-heartedly with the other positive reviewers. This book is fun, easy, filled with ideas that are not difficult but that I wouldn't have thought of on my own. Best of all, I periodically leave it on our kitchen table and my children love to skim through it and make suggestions. As a busy Mom who wants to spend time outside but often feels pulled in many directions, it helps inspire and motivate me, too! I really like the author's practical, peaceful, aim for good not perfect approach. She would appeal to a wide variety of people living in various urban to rural settings.
On another note, I also have Rebecca Cohen's "Curiosity Cards" and they are great! We used one tonight at dinner "If you could do more of one thing everyday, what would it be?" I use them whenever we have to wait. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005FQGCUG?redirect=true&ref_=cm_cr_ryp_prd_ttl_sol_0
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2011
Sometimes you need a motivator .... to slow down, relax, connect with your loved ones and enjoy what's around you. This book helps us do just that! The author makes outdoor fun simple, easy and educational with a focus on family. Get ready to be inspired to enjoy nature 12 months of the year - to get a little closer to nature, and your children. You'll feel like mom-of-the-year!
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