The Golden Book of Nature Crafts
John R. Saunders ~ photos by Roy Pinney
drawings by Rene Martin ~ Golden Press, 1949
I can't even remember where I bought this a few weeks ago as I think its sheer awesomeness blinded me instantly and for several hours afterwards. Seriously, I'm lucky I even made it home without causing a major traffic accident. And had I not found this book, then I doubt I would've stumbled across this delicious little bite of a blog, The Magnifying Glass, which (among other awesome nature/child activities and thoughts) highlighted in a post a section of this book called "Spider Webs Are Amazing" that details how to "catch" a spider web.
The book is filled with retro photographs and illustrations from Golden Nature Guides and houses instructions and tips on doing any number of cool nature activities. Like rigging up a field camera to catch animals in action, casting animal tracks, making leaf prints, creating an insect zoo, nut gathering,... and my absolute favorite, making a wood collection.
Make a wood collection. There's no better way to make closer friends of trees, which are usually taken for granted as something to give shade, to bear fruit, or to climb. But the minute you saw cuts into a branch (dead or fallen), you'll see a tree in a new light. The simple procedure of cutting into wood in order to prepare a specimen reveals texture in bark and grain as many-faceted as a jewel.
Again, this was the sort of book that if I'd had as a child, I would have done every single thing on every single page, probably many times over. One of my son's friends has already mastered the section called "How To Be a Rock Hound", and my son is nuts for the portion on feather collecting. He started his own collection in a box long ago, but to see it reinforced in print is a huge thing for him.
Seriously, this book reminds us that one of childhood's most precious moments can be created by simply scooping up a firefly in a mason jar and watching it glow. Get outside gang!