The Backyard Explorer Kit: 3-in-1 Collector’s Kit! by Rona Beame is for children who love hands on activities and want to learn more about trees. The kit includes a 3 1/2 by 8 inch Leaf and Tree Guide to trees (that will conveniently fit in a pocket or backpack), a plastic leaf-collecting bag, and an unbound 25 page Leaf Collecting Album. Although the product has been around for several years now, it is still a great deal of fun and worth a look.
The guide has information about trees, how to identify a number of common species (with color photographs of specimens), and 16 hands on activities. Some are the usual activities, such as making a bark rubbing or forcing buds. Others are novel, such as hatching leaf galls. We did one experiment and proved that open pine cones will close again if you soak them in water. Cool!
The Leaf Collecting album has two awesome features. First of all it is unbound, and comes with a long shoelace so you can put it together yourself. This allows children to add as much of their own material as they want without worrying about crushing the material or breaking the binding of the book. Secondly, the album pages have lightly printed illustrations on them, which means that if a child hasn’t collected a particular leaf yet, the album still remains a useful learning tool. The best part is that it doesn’t ask for collection of a particular species of tree, only a leaf of a given shape. Therefore it can be used in almost any locale.
For the child who loves hands on and nature, this is a wonderful kit.
I bought ours at a garden gift shop.
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 96 pages
Publisher: Workman Publishing Company; revised edition (July 1, 2004)
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