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R E V I E W S 44 Professionally Speaking | December 2017 The Big Book of Nature Activities BY JACOB RODENBURG AND DREW MONKMAN "Take one child. Place outdoors in nearby green spaces. Leave for several hours at a time. Repeat daily. Sprinkle in a dash of adventure. Fold in a generous portion of exploration and discovery. Top with wonder and awe. Let riseā€¦" This unusual recipe for fostering curious and engaged children introduces The Big Book of Nature Activities, written by long-time environmental educators Drew Monkman and Jacob Rodenburg. The book is essential reading for anyone who wants to show children how to connect with, explore and enjoy their natural world. Making mud pies, catching tadpoles at a nearby wetland, climbing trees or just staring up at the starry night sky are just some of the pleasures that can open the eyes of children to the wonder of the big, wide world. Organized around the changing seasons, the six main ecological regions of North America, and the flora, fauna, sky and weather specific to those regions, The Big Book of Nature Activities is loaded with detailed descriptions of key natural events and just enough background science to make you want to get out there to get up close and personal with the fascinating world of your own backyard. Citing the growing body of research pointing to the mental and physical health benefits of getting our students outside, the book also warns of the risks to our health and the health of our planet when we lose touch with our natural environment. The basic skills needed for connecting to nature are then carefully laid out. There are dozens of activities linking the explor- ation of nature to the arts, to language and to the sheer joy of playing outside. The book highlights the wonder of evolution with a wide range of stories and activities, and suggests multiple citizen science projects that both kids and adults can get involved in. Both authors have extensive experience working with children and adults in classroom and outdoor settings. If you are an educa- tor, a parent, or a person with the simple desire to rekindle a sense of wonder and awe for the world around you, The Big Book of Nature Activities will first inspire and then guide you to do just that. Stephanie Benn, OCT, is a science and language teacher in Peterborough at Edmison Heights Public School with the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board. The Great Number Rumble BY CORA LEE AND GILLIAN O'REILLY, ILLUSTRATED BY LIL CRUMP Imagine a town where math is sudden- ly banned from schools. Now think of one student in this same town trying to persuade the educators and citizens to reverse the ban by proving that math is "everywhere, in everything, and we all use it." This is the story- line of The Great Number Rumble, a thought-provoking mix of facts and fiction designed to answer two essen- tial questions: What is math and why should we study it? Jeremy thinks that studying math is a waste of time. His friend Sam knows that math, is about way more than numbers, and is willing to engage in a math debate (the titular number rumble) to prove it. Neon text boxes highlight engaging facts about the history of math, and well-designed sidebars show practical examples connecting math with a range of other subjects like music, science, and physical education where math-letes often become the best athletes. In the end, Sam outsmarts the town and wins the debate by offer- ing to work for one cent a day, with his price doubling every day. Both sides calculate that with exponential growth the town will have to pay Sam almost 11 million dollars in his first month of work alone. Fun DIY chal- lenges and funny headings such as "Crimes and primes" complement the fictional story as it underscores the significant role math plays in our lives. This updated chapter book would make a wonderful read-aloud as part of a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) focus. A section titled "Jeremy wres- tles with the weird stuff" could help in math planning for struggling math students. Coaches can use the section on 45-degree angles and gravity to improve the shots of their basketball team. By the end of the Great Number Rumble, one of the central questions has changed from what is math to what isn't. And the other question? Well, just read the book to be reminded of the many reasons we value numeracy skills so highly. Anne Marie Landon, OCT, is a principal with the Renfrew County Catholic District School Board. The Big Book of Nature Activities: A Year-Round Guide to Outdoor Learning, New Society Publishers, 2016, Gabriola Island, B.C., softcover, ISBN 978-0-86571-802-9, 384 pages, $39.95, newsociety.com The Great Number Rumble: A Story of Math in Surprising Places, revised edition, Annick Press, Toronto, 2016, softcover, ISBN 978-1-55451-849-4, 104 pages, $14.95, annickpress.com

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