In this blog post I have the privilege of interviewing Dawn Isaac about her second book, 101 Things For Kids To Do Outside. I’ve known Dawn virtually via Twitter and enjoy reading her Little Green Fingers blog. I bought Dawn’s book and liked it so much I asked if I could interview her for a blog post. I found the style and tone of her book refreshing and positive – children should find it accessible as well as their parents! It is also a perfect book to mention in relation to Sunday 11th May, which is National Children’s Day in the UK. This weekend there are all sorts of events going on up and down the country and the Children’s Outdoor Charter is launched.
What is “101 Things For Kids To Do Outside ” about?
It’s basically one big sales pitch for getting outdoors addressed directly at children. I wanted to provide kids with such a range of tempting ideas that they would be nagging their parents to let them get out there rather than the other way round for once.
Why did you write this book and what particularly inspired you?
I’ve been on a bit of a one-woman mission to get kids into gardening for the last few years but I’ve begun to realise this is too narrow. What I think we need is to get kids hooked on the idea of being outside and from this all sorts of good things will follow – including a more positive attitude to gardens and gardening. In particular, I’ve been finding ways to get my own kids out into the garden and this is a compilation of things that I know they love.
Which are your favourite 3 activities? I know it must be hard to choose…
- Teddy bear hunt – because it’s so simple, you can alter the difficulty simply by how many and how well you hide the toys, and it works equally well for a group of kids or a child on their own
- Build a mini wildlife pond – because it was such a simple, cheap but effective way to give my son the pond he had always wanted – and within a couple of months of installing ours we even had a resident frog which made his summer last year
- Cook with the sun – because you get to build a solar powered oven from cardboard boxes AND make biscuits – it’s an amazing science experiment with added snacks – what’s not to love?
What key pieces of advice would you give any child or parent about outdoor activities?
Don’t be too prescriptive. Providing the nub of an idea and a few materials is great but never try and predict or control where the kids take it. Yes, you might think the children were going to wash their toys’ clothes outside – but if the washing line suddenly transforms into a zip wire on a teddy bear extreme sports holiday camp – just go with it!
I wanted to tell you my three favourite activities but I simply couldn’t decide. Lots of them were funny, lovely, exciting and interesting. On yesterday’s course, this was probably the book that was picked up and discussed the most by participants. I’m just delighted to have my own copy. 🙂
David Bond, the Director of Project Wild Thing may call himself the Marketing Director of Nature. I think there is a Sales Director of Nature to meet his match in Dawn Isaac! Thank you Dawn, for this interview and allowing me to use some of the amazing photos from your book – the copyright for these is Will Heap and Kyle Books.
Finally – a quick thumbs up and welcome to Outdoor People, a London-based social enterprise to help families, kids and communities get out more has its official launch today. The inspirational founder is Cath Prisk, former director of Play England.