Monday, March 26, 2007

Magazine Review: Your Big Back Yard

Kindergarten gent got a subscription to Your Big Backyard magazine for his fourth birthday, and it's been a hit ever since. The photos are fantastic-- the April issue (pictured) has an amazing close-up of a caterpillar on the inside front cover, along with detailed pictures of robins from nest-building through leaving the nest. The gents spent a lot of time looking at the photos of the robins shoving worms into the gaping mouths of the babies, especially since we often see robins pulling worms out of the front yard while we sit at the table. We were particularly excited about this recent issue because it features two topics that have fascinated us as spring arrives: birds and gardening.

The magazine provides a nice mix of activities and information, just right for the target audience (3-6 year-olds...and their parents). There are short informative articles about different animals, a simple pencil puzzle in each issue, a pull-out poster, and fun projects. There's always a short nature-themed fiction read-aloud near the end. The gents' favorite features are the animal photographs and The Adventures of Bonnie and Chester, in which pictures replace some of the key words, allowing the kids to partcipate in reading the story aloud. I like the pictures too, and enjoy the Family Fun section, which offers fingerplays, crafts, activities and book reviews that match the theme of the magazine. Some months we may not try any activities, others we try nearly all of them. Another favorite of mine and the gents: Explore the Big Outdoors on the inside back cover. It's always got a beautiful detailed nature-notebook style drawing of a plant or animal, along with facts and a poem that would be perfect for memorization, copywork or nature journal.

I read the magazine to the gents while they ate their lunch. On the spur of the moment we decided to try the "dirt dessert." It was a great adventure. We don't normally eat pudding or chocolate cookies or gummy worms, so we went to the grocery store together to buy them. The gents smashed the cookies while I set out the supplies. Then they spooned pudding into clear plastic cups, hid their worms, then covered the whole mess with crumbled cookies. It was a gooey, sticky, crumbly delicious mess! Absolutely delightful. For additional fun we played Mama and baby robins. Don't try this if you're finicky or squeamish about sharing a matter of fact, you might not even want to read about it. We're not finicky or squeamish, so I held the tip of a gummy worm in my lips and tried to drop it into their open mouths. I missed a couple times, but it was worth the giggles. Maybe we'll try making Bird Nest Salads tomorrow.

For more nature fun, check out The Big Backyard website. There are more nature and science activities, recipes, games, kid drawings and book reviews. The bird and animal coloring pages are simple accurate black line drawings. We'll be using some of the bird coloring pages for the little ones while we do our spring nature study.

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