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kids

Children, Families, Good Reads

Environmental Books for Kids Review

environmental books for kids

The kind people at Floris Books recently sent me two environmental books for kids to review. The first is How Does My Garden Grow, by Gerda Muller. And the second is The Tomtes of Hilltop Stream by Brenda Tyler.

My daughter is only two. As such, she’s a bit below the recommended age for these books (3+), however we’ve had some good fun reading them nonetheless.

How Does My Garden Grow?

environmental books for pre-schoolers

How Does My Garden Grow is her favourite of the two environmental books for kids. And mine too, actually!  It’s all about a little girl from the city called Sophie, who goes to stay in the countryside with her grandparents for the summer.  At her grandparents she prepares a plot and plants some seeds, helping them to grow. All the while learning all about gardening as she goes.  

There’s a lot to this book, covering all the different aspects of preparing the soil, planting, growing, and harvesting. As such, I think three to seven-year-olds would get a lot out of this book.  It’s a great way to introduce the idea of gardening and where our vegetables come from and even features an introduction to composting.

The message isn’t entirely lost on my daughter. She has fun pointing out all of the different vegetables, and I’m sure it’s going to be a favourite as she grows older.  I also love the retro-style illustrations.

gardening books for kids
gardening books for preschoolers

The Tomtes of Hilltop Stream

The Tomtes of Hilltop Stream introduces children to the idea of environmentalism.  It tells the story of Emily and Jamie: two children who visit their favourite otter-filled stream to find it polluted, full of rubbish, and devoid of wildlife, including their beloved otters.  The Tomtes (little gnomes/elves) appear, helping Emily and Jamie to clean up the river and restore the habitat. The story even touches very briefly on the concept of activism!

tomtes of hilltop stream review

The message is great (although my bugbear is there’s no real message of how the rubbish got there). All in all, it would probably be a handy book for teachers to introduce ideas of environmentalism as part of wider readings and activities.  

As a fun book for kids to read at home though then I’m not so sure.  It might be hard to involve children in the story as it is very linear. All that happens is that they quickly and easily clean up the river, and there is little in terms of the characters or the plot to hold their attention.  

What it does do is provide plenty of talking points to expand on the environmental ideas discussed in the book. This means so you can go into as much or as little detail as you like, depending on the age of your children.

eco-friendly books for kids
tomtes book brenda tyler

What are your favourite environmental books for kids?

Floris Books kindly sent me two books to review. All views, words, and images are my own.  See my disclosure policy for more information.

Children, Families

Cork Crafts for Kids

cork crafts for kids
cork crafts for kids

Is it half term where you are?  Looking for ways to entertain the kids?  To help I’ve put together a round-up of some great cork crafts for kids.

I’ve written all about why you should try and pick natural cork stoppered wine over screw-topped or plastic cork bottles so it’s a good way of putting your cork to good use.  Otherwise you can buy cork stoppers online (eBay is a good source) or you can always ask friends, family and at local restaurants and bars to save any cork for you, rather than drinking litres and litres of wine to gather your cork!

Top Cork Crafts for Kids

Here are my favourite cork crafts.  As with any kids crafts, adult supervision and help will be required:

Cork Keyrings

cork crafts

These painted cork keyrings from El Hada de Papel are very cute. Simply paint a cork and add a little eye hook (available from any DIY store) and hey presto – a unique keyring!

Cork Boats

eco friendly crafts for kids
Cork boats, such as these ones from Handmade Charlotte are really easy to make and great fun.  You could make a few and have a boat race!

Cork Mice

natural crafts for kids

These cork mice, made from champagne corks by the Russian blog Altogether, are incredibly cute.  Make a whole family for added “aww” factor! The post is no longer available but here’s a similar DIY.

Cork Knights

cork activities
These cork knights from Red Ted Art are the ultimate in reusing and recycling – not only do they use the cork but also the wire cage and the metal lid too!  And they look pretty amazing to boot!

Cork Stamps

diy stamps

If you’re looking for an incredibly simple and easy craft then these cork stamps from Knobz fit the bill.  Simply glue wooden embellishments (available from craft shops) onto your corks, and you have an instant stamp set!  If you can’t find any embellishments then buttons or even bits of foam cut out in different shapes and glued on will also do the trick.

If you don’t have kids and are wondering what to do with your cork then you can compost it.  Cork doesn’t break down easily so don’t put the whole cork in. First chop it up into small pieces (or put it in your blender) and add it to your compost bin.  You can also add the small fragments of cork to the soil when you’re potting plants to aid with water retention.  Alternatively, use the whole corks at the bottom of plant pots, when potting your plants, in place of styrofoam or rocks, to aid drainage.

Main image from here.