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Book Review: Treecology by Monica Russo

Treecology by Monica Russo
Treecology by Monica Russo

The latest book I’ve reviewed for you is Treecology: 30 Activities and Observations for Exploring the World of Trees and Forests by Monica Russo. [Amazon link here.] This thin paperback is accessible for both parents and teachers. It is packed full of the science to understand all parts of trees and the environments they grow in. She goes into detail about parts of a tree, tree families, ecology of forests and woodlands, woodland wildlife, the food that trees make to support wildlife and humans, dead trees and snags, and nuts and seeds. A final section covers conservation and humans’ relationships to trees. There is a solid glossary, lists of additional resources, and a Teacher’s Guide with additional ideas (suitable for homeschoolers and public schoolers alike.) Colorful illustrations and abundant high-quality photos fill the pages to illustrate ideas.

There are many activities in this book to try with your children. Some of them are fine to do indoors, such as examining the undersides of leaves, but many provide a jump start to get outside and explore. You’ll find artistic activities, such as decorating with pressed leaves. Science facts are reinforced with things to try outside. Russo gives many suggestions for observations to make outside, which encourage greater listening and watching skills. She shows how to create a scientific tree log, providing a foundation for good scientific practices as children get older. And she even gives activities requiring imaginary play, such as pretending you are a grouse and finding food and shelter where you are.

My one small complaint about this book is that it seems to be heavily centered on the east coast trees. There are many examples of some trees that happen to grow here in the Pacific Northwest, but I wish it were more balanced. Parents and teachers will find the scientific information, activities, and observations to be applicable anywhere, however, and I enthusiastically recommend it. Many of the activities are geared toward elementary-aged children, but older kids will find things to do, as well. The information is presented in such a way that younger children will be able to navigate it with help, and older kids and adults will find the level of detail to be satisfying. It would lend itself well as an excellent reference in a school setting, as well as a solid spine in a homeschooling unit study.  I think you’ll find it to be a worthy addition to your library.

Book Review: Leaflets Three, Let it Be! by Anita Sanchez

I recently received a book for the purposes of review that I’d like to share with you today. Leaflets Three, Let it Be! is a picture book for children about identifying poison ivy. But it also shows the many uses of the plant through the seasons. It is written by Anita Sanchez and illustrated by…Continue Reading

National Parks Week 2016, and Review of National Geographic Guides

April 16-24, 2016 has been designated National Parks Week. This national event is a time to focus on and celebrate all that the National Parks have to offer us. During this week, admission is free to all parks, and special events are planned at many sites. The Park Service has created a special website for this…Continue Reading

New Tools Can Light a Spark

The summer is winding down, and the new school year is only a few weeks away. I find my thoughts turning more to planning and organizing, even as we try to soak in the last weeks of summer. Yesterday, Annika and I visited our local homeschooling curriculum store, Homeschool Potpourri. This place lacks glamor, but…Continue Reading

2015 Northwest Flower and Garden Show

Romance! Flowers! Lush greenery! Excitement! My kids and I love the Flower and Garden Show. We look forward to it every year, and enjoy seeing the display gardens, shopping in the marketplace, learning from the seminars, and getting a jump-start on spring. This year Grandma got to spend the day with us, and it made…Continue Reading

Columbia Gorge Discovery Center – Spring Break 2014

This is the fifth post from our Spring Break Trip. We are almost done! The first was about hikes from the Catherine Creek Trailhead.  The second post was about the Vista House and Gorge waterfalls.  The third was about camping and exploring at Columbia Hills State Park. The fourth was about the Goldendale Observatory. We have one more destination to…Continue Reading

Goldendale Observatory

This is the fourth post from our Spring Break Trip. The first was about hikes from the Catherine Creek Trailhead.  The second post was about the Vista House and Gorge waterfalls.  The third was about camping and exploring at Columbia Hills State Park. Future posts will include: The Columbia River Gorge Discovery Center and History Museum in…Continue Reading

Othello Sandhill Crane Festival and Columbia NWR

The kids and I did our first big road trip adventure of the season on the last weekend in March.  We heard about a bird festival over in Central Washington, we had some free time, and we decided to go.  The kids had been requesting a trip to the desert, too, and no snowshoeing, please,…Continue Reading

Lewis Creek Park, Bellevue

We had the chance last Friday to check out a new park (for us) over in Bellevue.  Lewis Creek Park has about 3 miles of trails on its 55 acres.  It includes wetlands, meadows, and forests. Some of the trails are paved, and some are softer surfaces.  The Visitor Center has some interesting activities and…Continue Reading

2014 Northwest Flower and Garden Show

The first weekend in February is usually the Northwest Flower and Garden Show.  This extravaganza takes place right when we are getting tired of our gloomy, grey, damp winter.  It helps us turn the corner to spring, or at least to have hope that spring is not far away.  When I first started going to…Continue Reading