C2YmIPtXcAI7YAnThis is the latest offering from the author of The Curious Kid’s Science Book and 150+ Screen Free Activities for Kids, both excellent and unusual as Asia Citro brings her background as a classroom science teacher and her Masters in Science Education into the arena of play with preschool and school children with stunning effect. Consequently, expectations of A Little Bit of Dirt ran high as I anticipated a handbook full of quirky and original ideas for helping children learn in and with nature.

Unfortunately, this publication disappoints. It contains little that will surprise or equip anyone who regularly spends time occupying young children outdoors, or already has resources of a similar kind. There are some fun ideas; cutting dandelion stems for blowing bubbles, making rain drums by stretching balloons over containers of different sizes, making an underwater viewer, and using natural paint-brushes. There are some overtly educational activities as well; learning how to know if a stream is healthy, or checking the quality of soil by looking for earthworms. The photography is lovely and bright, and instructions are clear and simple – perhaps an indication that this book is aimed more at children themselves than at educators.

The publishers claim that the activities covered are ‘perfect for all ages’. In fact, the majority of the suggestions would make for brilliant interactive play in an Early Years setting, but would be of more limited use with older children in an educational context. All in all, for pre-school and reception teachers new to the concept of bringing the outdoors into play who want an easy, bright and colourful resource, this would be a good investment, but for those with prior experience of educating outside, although the book serves as a great reminder of the fun that can be had with simple nature crafts, it might frustrate in its lack of depth and originality.

Philippa Riste

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A Little Bit of Dirt. Asia Citro. The Innovation Press. ISBN: 978-1-943147-04-5. 128 pages. £10.99