SALE – Summer Season Starter

P.L.A.Y. Nature Adventure Books now only $5.25 each!

Consider these to be your simple portable SUMMER P.L.A.Y. plans to keep everyone engaged wherever you may be!

Purchase HERE today!

Includes stories and activities for your whole family to enjoy and encourages daily connection to the great outdoors. Bonus!

See sample of a completed Book Page

Nature Alliteration Adventures: The Summer Guide

Over 90+ outdoor adventures designed for June + July + August

*Access to water is recommended for this P.L.A.Y. guide book with adult supervision for water safety as needed.

And try these P.L.A.Y. Nature Activity STORY Adventure Books too!

The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated):

A P.L.A.Y. Nature Activity Story Book

From Old Mr. Toad’s Music Bag and The Smiling Pool Playground to Old Mr. Toad’s Odd Tongue you will find plenty of engaging and entertaining chapters in this nature story activity book created for the young and young at heart.

Thornton Burgess’ 100+ year old original characters have been updated in this edition for the 21st century family to model mindfulness and loving kindness throughout their adventures in the Green Forest and beyond.

Bonus Materials includes:

  • The opportunity to illustrate each chapter
  • Photos of the life cycle including shiny egg strands, tadpoles, and toad!
  • Curious question prompts to challenge the reader and family
  • Recommended resources to continue on the P.L.A.Y. path to discover more about toads!

Sample P.L.A.Y. TOAD stories and activities today!

The Adventures of Paddy the Beaver (Annotated) –

A P.L.A.Y. Nature Activity Story Book

From Paddy the Beaver building a home and building a new friendship with Sammy Jay to creating a winter tail trail in the snow you will find plenty of engaging and entertaining moments in this nature story activity book created for the young and young at heart.

Thornton Burgess’ 100+ year old original characters have been updated in this edition for the 21st century family to model mindfulness and loving kindness throughout their adventures in the Green Forest.

Bonus Materials included:

  • Opportunities to illustrate each chapter
  • Photos of beaver activity
  • Tree themed coloring and nature journaling pages
  • Curious questions and prompts to challenge the reader and family
  • Recommended resources to continue on the P.L.A.Y. path to discover more about beavers!

See more P.L.A.Y. Nature Adventure books for only $5.25 each!


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This is a CAPKIN.

Capkins are curious & creative and are happiest outdoors on

P.L.A.Y. nature adventures with you!

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This is how you make a CAPKIN in 5 simple steps.

1. Draw a cone shape, that roughly fits in a 2 inch square like above, on a piece of paper.

2. Cut this template out and roll into a cone shape to see if you like the size.

3. Then place the paper pattern on red felt to cut out your cone.

4. Sew the cone up the back seam with roughly 15+ stitches.

5. Then add two wiggly (or felt) eyes with hot glue.

*Young children must be assisted in this craft due to sewing needles and hot glue usage.

**Children 3 and under must be supervised when playing with Capkins due to small parts choking hazard.

That’s it – all done!

Yay You!

Time for a P.L.A.Y. nature adventure!

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Red Capkins appear most often as they can be seen both near and far.

Rainbow colored Capkins appear

for special seasonal & magical moments.

❤ ❤ ❤  Origin of Capkins ❤ ❤ ❤

Capkins were originally created by Karen beginning in 2016 for her own outdoor P.L.A.Y. nature adventures.

She has carried them with her every day on her nature walks and is so very glad to share them with you.

You are invited to make your own Capkins and encouraged to bring them on your adventures with friends and family.

Capkins like to be handmade and put into this world with loving kindness. ❤

They are not sold or found for sale in any stores, rather they are given away freely.

Please be mindful of this practice and be willing to make a few extra Capkins and pass them forward to new P.L.A.Y.-ers.


❤ ❤ ❤ KAREN ❤ ❤ ❤

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I’d love to see your Capkin on an outdoor adventure!

Please send a snapshot of your Capkin in nature and perhaps you’ll see it on a future P.L.A.Y. Postcard post and have it pinned on the P.L.A.Y. PINTEREST boards. See the how to steps below.

If you would like to share your Capkin nature adventures with the P.L.A.Y. viewers please send a nature photo postcard providing the following:

  1. Your curious Capkin must be in the photo – no humans or human structures.
  2. Your first name and your last name initial (example: Karen W.)
  3. The location you took the picture (example: Yellowstone National Park or Connecticut River or my backyard in Massachusetts,etc.)
  4. Please send in a JPG File format as an attachment.
  5. You must be a follower of P.L.A.Y. with your email already signed-in (see HOME page with box to enter your email).


Send to:

By sending this photo postcard you are giving P.L.A.Y. permission to post it on this blog and on P.L.A.Y. PINTEREST page and any other public forum that aligns with the mission of P.L.A.Y.


Animal BOOK LOOK – Summary of Chapter Links

Here is a summary of chapter links for:

The Burgess Animal Book for Children (Annotated) written by Thornton Burgess and revised by P.L.A.Y. for the 21st Century Family.

The Burgess Animal Story for Children, The Burgess Bird Story for Children, and The Adventures of __________ series (Paddy the Beaver, Lightfoot the Deer, Old Mr. Toad, etc.), are all originally authored by Thornton Burgess and are now available to you through P.L.A.Y.

P.L.A.Y. has provided new online versions of these updated and annotated 100+ year old public domain classics to:

  • be suitable for the 21st century family by having the Thornton Burgess woodland characters evolve to model mindfulness and loving kindness
  • highlight and bring awareness to the New England nature settings and offer an opportunity to learn more about the fields and forests through these animal story adventures
  • create story extension moments through P.L.A.Y. suggested activities and investigations for making new nature connections generated by the reader’s own curiosity
  • encourage families to keep their own nature notebooks for drawing, writing, painting, and recording their own local daily outdoor P.L.A.Y. adventures.

P.L.A.Y. – Pass it on!


Family Gardening #15: Bonus – Purple Sauerkraut!

Growing Purple Cabbages = Make Great Homemade Sauerkraut!

My husband grew purple cabbages this year and treated himself to the purchase of a new crock so that he could make his own sauerkraut for years to come.

After cutting, shredding, salting, and stuffing the crock full he had to wait for over 8 weeks before the product was ready to compliment our family meals.

During the waiting period he stored the crock full of cabbage in our cellar on a tray and whenever I passed by it to do the laundry I could hear the funny “burbling” sounds and see a purplish liquid gathering around the bottom. It truly seemed like a mysterious science experiment in progress!

He often had to feed it more water (he’s still not sure why) and is working on fine tuning the process for next year including a focus on what cabbages to grow.

All-in-all it was a great P.L.A.Y. garden project and the family is happily consuming the results.



Thanks for stocking our shelves with “Oh my, homemade goodness”!

More P.L.A.Y. garden series past posts and early Spring 2021 beginnings HERE!

Beautiful purple cabbages in progress – July 2020

Stretching Shadow – A Simple Gift

The shadows grow long as the sun sets ever earlier and we near the end of November allowing for P.L.A.Y.-full moments like this one here in my neck-of-the-woods.

And even though I’ve passed through this patch of the forest a thousand times this moment was like catching an unexpected glimpse of myself in the mirror as I caught sight of my extended shadow.

My how tall I’ve grown I thought. I look a bit long in the legs with four of them no less! I could be called “stretch”! What if a critter walked up behind me, how tall would they be? What if it was the black bear I saw a few weeks ago only this time it was walking on two legs? Oh my – what silly fun!

This whimsical moment reminded me yet again of how everything changes, always. Mother Nature has made sure that no matter what there will always be change even if we do not readily see it.

That is how this year has been too. There are so many obvious changes that have taken place in 2020 and yet there are so many subtle ones as well.

This holiday week may be a bit quieter for many of us as we stay home in our own pods and save visiting family and friends for another year when it is safer to do so.

And perhaps this provides an unexpected opportunity for all of us to reflect on the more subtle changes, perhaps even unexpected delights, that have unfolded while our attention was elsewhere this year.

What little things have you overlooked that could only have taken place due to the larger changes throughout 2020?

Someday when masks, and pods, and the pandemic are over what little things will you miss that could only have taken place this year and will eventually disappear?

Once you’ve sat with these thoughts awhile I hope you and your cozy pod are able to take the time to delight in the simple and subtle changes outdoors this week and in the months to come.

Whether it is catching a glimpse of your own shadows in the setting sunlight, collecting cool crystals on a winter’s day, or creating your own spontaneous P.L.A.Y. projects may you all discover simple pleasures in your own neck-of-the-woods.

Truly nature is there for you, ready to P.L.A.Y., always.

Be well, be safe, and simply bee!

From me and my shadow,

Karen ;0) ❤

Visit P.L.A.Y. on PINTEREST!


Join the P.L.A.Y. community on PINTEREST!

You will find nature videos, story read-alouds, seasonal snapshots, and oodles of  inspirational P.L.A.Y. pins for you and your family.

Try these P.L.A.Y. boards -Pass it on!

 P.L.A.Y. + Pass it on!

Forest Bathing with the Family – A Daily Simple Gift!

Have you ever stood amongst the trees in mid-autumn in awe of the wonderful canvas of color before you and wondered how the leaves change color or know when to fall?

Have you ever been in a pine forest with fog rolling in and felt the stillness of hushed sounds all around and only an echo of a bird calling in the distance?

Have you ever walked about after a winter ice storm to see the sparkling sun shine through the coated branches?

Have you ever stood under the canopy of a maple tree during a light spring rain shower and watched the water droplets roll off the tips of the leaves?

Then perhaps forest bathing may be something you’ve been doing for awhile now and the phrase is simply new to you. Or perhaps you’ve been spending a great deal of time indoors and the thought of time spent amongst the trees brings you back to childhood or a more peaceful time in your life.

Either way, now is a great time to reconnect to the idea of spending time in nature and to learn more about the benefits of soaking up your natural surroundings for a few moments each day, or as often as you can, for your health and well being and that of your family.

The bonus is you’ve come to the right place as P.L.A.Y. is very much here to help you connect and engage with this concept of forest bathing. The daily blog posts on P.L.A.Y.  are here to encourage the whole family to find the nearest nature path or patch, be present and allow for your sense of curiosity and wonder to kick in, and make the essence of P.L.A.Y.  a routine practice.

Forest Bathing For Families

Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness

by Dr. Qing Li

Dr. Qing Li, a scientist in Japan, explains in his book Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness and how the term shinrin-yoku (or forest bathing) came about in the 1980’s. He also shares the many ways spending time in the forest or in a nature setting can make a world of difference in your health and well being. As a scientist he has gathered the data over time to show skeptics why spending frequent time in the forest is beneficial for improved sleep, reducing stress and anxiety, increased energy boost, a natural way to connect with loved ones, and so much more. And as a human he has experienced these benefits first hand.

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I too have discovered, through simple curiosity and P.L.A.Y. , that heading outdoors daily in all seasons has had a beneficial impact on how I see and feel and experience this world. Being outdoors routinely has increased my creativity, provided a sense of calm even during challenging times, and given me the opportunity to learn so much more about my natural surroundings here in New England.

Forest bathing and nature walking have been so beneficial to my well being and that of my family that I just had to share these experiences and encourage others to join the journey. This has been the catalyst for creating P.L.A.Y. – Passionate Learning All Year and keeps me consistently returning to my neck-of-the-woods to see what new wonders have appeared right outside my door and eagerly passing forward these gifts through this blog to you and your family.

Hannah Fries, author of Forest Bathing Retreat: Find Wholeness in the Company of Trees, has also created a wonderful guide that is a great companion to Dr. Qing Li’s book and is just the right size for the whole family to engage with and be inspired by both the photos and prompts. An example of a prompt found mid-way through the book is “As you watch a tree sway in the wind, let your knees and shoulders relax. Sway a little on your own stem.” Or another example is ” Find harmony as you look closely at the natural world, you may begin to see patterns amid what seems like chaos -unexpected connections thrumming everywhere around us.” Hannah’s book is a balm in these times as we all need to find peace-filled spaces and moments to simply be present and in awe of nature which can help us feel grounded and safe on Mother Earth even in the midst of uncertainty.

Note: The foreword to Hannah’s book is written by Robin Wall Kimmerer the author of the well known and also much recommended Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants.


Time to gather up your gaggle of giggling gifts, aka kiddos + family all – Fido too, and announce you’re going for a bath in the forest – together!

It’s P.L.A.Y. Time!

Please pass forward this Simple Gift to inspire and encourage loved ones, both near and far, on their

naturally curious and creative P.L.A.Y. journey. 🙂

Family Gardening #14: Summing it All Up!

P.L.A.Y. in Place Projects

Hoping you and your gardens thrived this year – weeds, bees, and all the oh my goodness that “grows” with it!

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On this last day of summer let’s wind down this series with a few more sunny snapshots.

Strawberries foraged in the meadows under the warm summer sun. Quality over quantity to tingle your tastebuds!


Apples in our old orchard with some for taking a bite and some just right for cider making.

Awesome cabbages grown to make homemade sauerkraut in a crock!

Yay for green thumbs!

Butterfly garden flowers that have been given as bouquets and to dress up our table. Beautiful – like bringing sunshine indoors!

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Time to put the gardens to bed and this series too. 🙂

Tidy up the plants and regain the overgrown walking paths while filling up the compost bin with all that great vegetation.

Time to enjoy the harvest and give your green thumb a well deserved rest.

See you back here in this family gardening thread when the seed catalogs start rolling in!

Look for fresh new posts by early Spring 2021!

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  • This series will continue to follow the seasons and growing patterns according to living here in a Zone 5 northern New England climate and you’ll need to adjust accordingly.
  • The specific gardening needs you have can simply be answered using your favorite search engine online seeking DIY instructions as well as library eBooks and audiobooks (especially as we are all asked to continue to P.L.A.Y. in Place at the time of this posting).
  • P.L.A.Y. is here to encourage you and your family on your gardening journey simply by posting some of our experiences as inspiration and basic prompts to growing food and flowers.

More P.L.A.Y. in Place with a Plan Family Gardening HERE

This P.L.A.Y. series is for everyone! Pass it on!

  • If you are new to gardening this series is designed to encourage you and your family to take small steps towards growing foods and flowers of any kind and any amount.
  • If you’ve tinkered with gardening in the past and things didn’t always work out this series is here to encourage you to try again AND do it as a family focusing on each individuals strengths to help it all come together.
  • This series will offer up suggestions for basic leaping off points where you and your family can begin and choose to deep dive or keep it simple in the world of gardening.
  • Most of all this series will be a source of encouragement and hopefully an inspiration to simply get in the dirt (aka garden) and P.L.A.Y. and the rest will “bee what it will bee”.

Simply BEE!

Nature BOOK LOOK – The Mushroom Fan Club by Elise Gravel


 ~ ~ ~ BOOK LOOK ~ ~ ~

The Mushroom Fan Club

by Elise Gravel

Karen’s P.L.A.Y. previews and companion activity adventures.

 P.L.A.Y.ful story preview:

Simple Mushroom Mastery and Mycologists in the Making

*Must have an enthusiastic favorite adult to advise kiddos on this adventure.

P.L.A.Y.-filled companion activity adventures:

  • Challenge: Are there mushrooms you’ve seen in a nearby forest that are also in this book? What are they? Can you draw or photograph them?
  • Super Challenge: How do you think they came up with such a variety of fun mushroom names and who do you think got to name them?
  • Super-Duper Challenge: Before looking up your next mushroom find be sure to create your own crazy name first and record it in your nature discovery notebook – eyes and all!
  • Super-Duper-Stellar Challenge: Solve this mystery . . .  are mushrooms fungi or are fungi mushrooms?
  • Curiosity REMINDER: As beginners it is best to look with your eyes not your hands so as not to disturb the mushrooms. And ALWAYS check with a person who has experience foraging for mushrooms before even considering eating them. 

Fungi Finding is FUN!

More of my latest forest fungi finds:

Purchase HERE P.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books

Bird BOOK LOOK – Curiosity Projects -The Burgess Bird Book for Children (Annotated)

P.L.A.Y. in Place Curiosity

Missed Chapter 1? Begin Online for FREE HERE

So now that you have read the 45 chapters in The Burgess Bird Book for Children (Annotated) series provided by P.L.A.Y. online, what’s next?

Time to make use of your family’s interests generated from this adventure story with Peter Rabbit and his feathered friends to create new leaping off points into projects and activities that can easily be done at home.

Below are some sample curious questions to help get you started.

Be sure to have each family member generate their own list of what they enjoyed most  and what they’d like to explore further as this keeps everyone engaged and motivated.

Curiosity propels us forward into new ideas as well as digging deeper into topics that were only covered at the surface level. All super life learning moments!

P.L.A.Y. in Place Projects + Activities

  1. Parts of a Bird: Our feathered friends have eyes, throat, shoulders, and a belly just like us. What other parts make up the bird anatomy that is different from humans?
  2. Beak Shape: What are the uses of a bird beak? Can you list them? What different types of shaped beaks are there and what are their clever uses? Dig deep!
  3. Bird Size Silhouettes: How does the outline or shape of a bird (their silhouette) help in identifying from a distance? What characteristics can you tell from a silhouette?
  4. Bird Songs + Calls: Can you track the songs of the birds that live just outside your windows? Who do you hear singing on a spring morning? Who do you hear on a summer’s eve? Do you hear more high notes or low notes? Slow notes or fast? Loud notes or soft notes? Can you duplicate the song you hear on a flute or by whistling? What are bird song mnemonics? Example: Chick-a-dee-dee-dee
  5. Feathers: What purpose do they serve beyond flying? Why is there a variety in colors? How do they vary in size? Do they vary in shape?
  6. Ornithologists: Who are they? Look into what the study of birds was like in the late 1800’s vs. how current day scientists engage with this work.
  7. Birds Can Be: Make a list of what birds can be. Example – seed spreaders, morning wake-up alarms, winged dancers, egg layers, singers, etc.
  8. Bird Watchers: Over 40+ million people in the United States consider themselves birders. How do folks engage with the study of our feathered friends even when they are not scientists by profession?  What is a hobbyist vs. a citizen scientist? Can all birders see activity in their local habitat year round in the United States?
  9. A great winter bird project in New England for the whole family is to engage with Project Feeder Watch by The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. It is helpful to prepare before the first frost if you need to put poles in the ground and certainly before the first winter storm blankets the ground with snow.
  10. Bonus! How many books can you name with a bird in the title? How many songs can you name that have a bird mentioned in it? What artwork have you seen with birds as a theme?

P.L.A.Y. in Place:

Read, Get Curious, and Enjoy the Journey!

If you haven’t already purchased one or two basic Bird ID books to have on hand in your home you might like to give these two a try.

National Audubon Society

The Sibley Guide to Birds

Written and Illustrated by David Allen Sibley

This guide edition copyright 2000 has been used extensively by my son for identifying birds in his photography as well as by other family members simply looking out our windows. This volume is very thorough in covering birds across the United States and specifically here in New England providing standard deviations to help distinguish between any differences.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology

The Backyard Birdsong Guide to Eastern and Central North America: A Guide to Listening

by Donald Kroodsma

This book has a matching audio recording of 75 bird songs and calls to help you ID what you are hearing outdoors with a family friendly format.

P.L.A.Y. in Place Online Resources

Try these activities to extend your bird story adventures:

Source: Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton Burgess

P.L.A.Y. has provided this new online version of all 45 chapters of this updated and annotated 100+ year old public domain classic to:

  • be suitable for the 21st century family by having the Thornton Burgess woodland characters evolve to model mindfulness and loving kindness
  • highlight and bring awareness to the New England nature settings and offer an opportunity to learn more about birds and other woodland animals through this story adventure
  • create story extension moments through P.L.A.Y. suggested activities and investigations for making new nature connections generated by the reader’s own curiosity
  • encourage families to keep their own nature notebooks for drawing, writing, painting, and recording their own local daily outdoor P.L.A.Y. adventures.

P.L.A.Y. Time – Pass it on!