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THE KIDS' NATURE ALMANAC, by Alison Smith; Crown Trade Paperbacks; 214 pages; in paperback, $13.

This book is chock-full of suggestions for ways for children and adults to explore nature together. There are 68 projects, arranged in order of the seasons. The kite/wind projects come in March, for example.

Don't be fooled by the title. "The Kids' Nature Almanac" is not written for children. Alison Smith counts on adults being able to interpret science to their youngsters. Children wouldn't understand her analogies.

In the section on fall she writes, "To say that leaves change color in the fall, in cooler states, is to say that Mae West finally got over being shy. . . . The yellow pigments have been there all the time in the leaf. They are covered by a layer of green - chlorophyll - throughout the spring and summer. (If someone asks how the yellow layer got there in the first place, you're on your own. My policy has always been the best defense is a good offense. Ask the child to look it up.)"

365 DAYS OF CREATIVE PLAY, by Sheila Ellison and Judith Gray; Sourcebooks; 370 pages; in paperback, $12.95.

Sheila Ellison and Judith Gray have compiled a list of 365 simple activities, simply illustrated, that can keep kids busy not just for the summer but for the entire year. "365 Days of Creative Play" gives instructions for games, movement, science, art and cooking projects.

The book says it is for children 2 years and up. It is probably best for 3- and 4-year-olds. Children as old as 9 or 10 might enjoy preparing the simple recipes.



Hanging Sponge Garden


1. Birdseed or lawn seed

2. Natural sponge

3. Ribbon or cord

4. Shallow pan of water


Buy a natural sponge from a drug store or health store. Make a small hole through the center and thread the ribbon or cord through it. Tie a good knot at one end of the cord. Wet the sponge and sprinkle the seed over it and into the air holes. Hand the sponge in a sunny window with the tip of it resting in a shallow pan of water. Seeds will sprout so long as your child keeps water in the pan.