Book Review: 15 Minutes Outside

The following post is by contributor Emily Carter of The Pilot’s Wife.

We are outdoor people, no question about it. The picture above is my 32 month old picking through a box of worms to help his Grandpa go fishing.

So far this summer we’ve enjoyed hiking, swimming, park playing, hitting up our local farmer’s market, and much more.  Summertime just begs you to get out of doors and revel in all that glorious sunshine, doesn’t it?

I have to admit, though, I sometimes struggle with finding creative ways to get our little family off the couch and into nature. Especially when the temperatures soar above 100 degrees or in the dead of winter when it seems so much more appealing to snuggle up under blankets and watch a movie.

When a friend recommended the book, 15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids, I thought that sounded like a book I needed to read.

From the back cover:

What could happen if you and your kids went outside, every day, for just fifteen minutes?

You might be surprised at the powerful, profound, and fun effect it can have on a family. And you don’t need lots of expertise, cash, planning, or time- just a willingness to get out there and nurture yourself and your kids with a little nature.

Sounds great, right?

This book is a fantastic resource and tool for any parent, caregiver, or teacher.  I’ve paged through many a book on play ideas for children and this is one of my top picks.

One of the best things about this book is it’s ease of use.  It’s not a book that you have to schedule a large chunk of time to read.  The way it is broken into seasons and then further by month makes it a snap to flip to exactly the type of activity you need.

Seasonal Ideas

The author, Rebecca P. Cohen, does include essays about being active outdoors before each season that I thought make this book a step above a simple directory of games, however. I enjoyed reading her personal anecdotes, and about how a New Year’s Resolution to get outside for 15 minutes a day with her boys was the foundation of this book.

To give you a small taste, here are a few of my favorite ideas for the month of July:

Make some solar s’mores: On a hot day, wrap your marshmallow, graham crackers, and chocolate in tin foil and place in a sunny spot outside. Wait ten minutes and your s’mores are ready to eat! A (tasty) mini lesson on solar power.

Create ice cube art– Kids will love to write or draw on a sidewalk or patio with ice cubes! Add some food coloring the night before and they can add color to their creations. I think my son would really like this.

Create your own drive-in– Take your laptop or small television outside after dark and enjoy a movie and snacks from lawn chairs or blankets.

I really appreciated the creativity of all the activities listed in the book.  As parents we already have a few tricks up our sleeves like blowing bubbles or drawing with sidewalk chalk.

If you’re finding yourself in a rut this summer, I can’t recommend this book enough. I know I’ll be using it all year long.

What are some ways your family is enjoying the great outdoors this season?

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  1. I will need to check this book out from the library! I have the same problem getting outside when the weather is too hot/cold/rainy/sunny etc.
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  2. I just bought this book a few days ago, so good to hear!

  3. This sounds interesting. I wonder how the author will cover wintertime. For most of the US, winter can include snow play or ice play, but here in the Pacific Northwest when it is pouring icy rain for weeks at a time in the winter–those are the most challenging days.
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  4. Yes. I love this book! I don’t even have kids but I was still flipping through it last night looking for fun things to do. I second your recommendation; it’s a great resource!
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  5. Jennifer Ott says:

    I thumbed through this book the other night; I might just buy it. I especially liked the ideas for the winter…which seems to be half of the year here in South Dakota!

  6. I don’t buy a lot of books, but this one looks right up my alley! Thanks for the review. 🙂
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  7. This book sounds great. I am always trying to think of ways to get my daughter outside. I think she would really like some of the ideas you mentioned. Id love to know more so I bought the book. Thanks!
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