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Earthways: Simple Environmental Activities for Young Children Paperback – July 1, 1992

4.8 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Dig your thumbnail into a dandelion stem. Watch the milky juice ooze out and feel it, sticky, on your fingers. Then thread the next hollow stem through the slit. Making flower wreaths used to be a wonder-filled way to spend a springtime afternoon! First, the gathering of the blossoms, then the task of wreath-making finally the transformation as you and your friends each assume a royal role, flower crowned for the pageant! Today these simple activities that brought children in close contact with their natural world have gone by the wayside. . . .

Now a new activity book designed for classroom use and for families has revived many old-fashioned nature activities and supplied an updated view on the importance of providing opportunities for children to interact with dirt and bugs and wool and plants real things as opposed to Barbie dolls and Ninja Turtle figures. Earthways is devoted primarily to craft ideas based on natural materials that can be frown, gathered, baked, woven, molded, and sometimes used in dramatic play. These crafts are unusual in that they can be shared in the doing and the giving and the eating. They can be enjoyed for the process and the product, which often turns out to be an object of simple beauty. . . .

the organization of this book makes it possible for a teacher or parent to move directly to a particular season to find a variety of activities, each geared to a minimum age level (i.e., age 3 and up). Every seasonal section begins with a short introduction chock-a-block full of ideas rooted in concern for a wide range of environmental issues. Special heading identify projects that "supply missing links,' helping children to make connections (e.g., tomatoes grow on vines, not in cans) and apply the skills they are learning as they garden and work with art materials. Throughout the book, each project is outlined in clear, concise language and illustrated with Donald cook's charming, soft black-and-white drawings that make it easy to follow the instructions.

A particularly noteworthy feature of Earthways is the resource section in the back, which contains useful lists of suppliers of art materials, garden tools, books, and toys. "Green" organizations are listed so that teachers can network their ecological concerns and acquire additional information. . . .

Petrash is Waldorf trained, and readers familiar with the Waldorf School and Rudolf Steiner's philosophy of education will recognize certain gentle components of that system of ideas: a project for sewing felt gnomes; the use of beeswax, watercolors, and carded wool; a preference for wooden toys. A sense of peace and centeredness is fostered throughout the book. . . .

As an introduction to another way of doing things, another way of viewing our world, this is a timely book, because it is solidly grounded in an awareness of the urgent need to do something to reverse the unfortunate results of our rampant materialism. Earthways makes the hopeful statement that one person can make a difference. By raising children with an understanding of the fragile beauty of their surroundings and helping them to assume a joyful responsibility for protecting this precious environment, a teacher, or a parent, can change the world. -- Holistic Education Review

Early childhood author Carol Petrash has gathered more than 100 classroom activities designed to help preschool children grow in what Rachel Carson called "the sense of wonder." The difference from other children's craft books is signaled by the first chapter, which describes setting up an "earth-friendly" home and classroom and breaking the throw-away habit. The activities are organized by season and age groupings (3-plus to 5-plus). Making leaf crowns, nut people, seasonal gardens, drying and roasting pumpkin seeks (after the usual carving) are activities that can help children become creators in rhythm with the Earth in a way deliberately focused away from consumption of purchased materials. A section on creating a more natural outdoor play space in a bare asphalt schoolyard is especially interesting. A find resource for people working with young children. -- Earth Ethics (Washington, D.C.)

Earthways is a treasure trove of developmentally-appropriate, imaginative activities in science, nature and art designed to empower young children to feel a joyous kinship with nature. Organized by seasons, this resource book devotes large sections to various nature crafts and natural toys with which young children can celebrate the gifts of the seasons and experience the rhythms and changes of their world. A sampling of seasonal crafts include wheat weaving and leaf crowns in the fall, star windows and snow scenes in the winter, dish gardens and press flower cards in the spring, and paper birds and walnut boats in the summer. Each craft is well-organized, clearly written, and beautifully enhanced by soft, pastel, pencil drawings. Although many of the hands-on activities and crafts are self-directed, some activities do need adult supervision (building an outdoor bean tepee playhouse using five-foot sticks or bamboo poles, or baking a berry shortcake or cobble). . .

Young children are born with the sense that their natural world is good and beautiful. Earthways provides simple and enjoyable activities for fostering these positive feelings for the earth. By engaging in these suggested activities, young children can increase their sense of natural wonder and learn to treat the earth not as a commodity to exploit and damage but as a cherished gift to love, respect and protect. -- Chicago Metro AEYC Connections

From the Back Cover

Earthways is filled with hands-on nature crafts and seasonal activities to enhance environmental awareness. The activities are carefully written and beautifully illustrated. Children play with the elements of earth, air, and water. They develop a respect for nature, for the earth and for all living creatures. They experience the awe and wonder of the world around them.

Children learn firsthand about their dependence on the earth. They can learn how to take stalks of wheat and turn them into flour for making bread, how to be a creator and not just a consumer by making gifts, how to make butter and grow food (even in the city), and how to make outdoor playhouses.

Seasonal suggestions for creating a more earth-friendly home and classroom are also included, in addition to a comprehensive resource list.

Seasonal activities and crafts include:

Leaf Banners
Wheat Weaving
Leaf Crowns
Nature's People

Caring for the Birds and Squirrels
Star Windows
Snow Scenes
Finger Knitting
Yarn Dolls

Round Wind Wands
Dish Gardens
Butterfly Pop-Up Cards
May Baskets
Pressed Flower Cards

Shooting Star Streamer Balls
Walnut Boats
Parachute People
Paper Birds
Moving Pictures


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 3 and up
  • Paperback: 206 pages
  • Publisher: Gryphon House; First edition (July 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 087659156X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0876591567
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #156,909 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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