Entropy Academy: READING ALOUD #homeschool

Are you suddenly homeschooling? Maybe you’ve made the choice to do it long-term. We’re here to make sure it’s a joyful and fun experience—it doesn’t have to be daunting and overwhelming. We’ve created a four-part series of easy homeschooling tips and inspiration for anyone starting out (and for veterans too!).  These tips are from Entropy Academy, a homeschooling parent’s memoir full of guidance and inspiration for anyone educating their kids outside of the institution of public education, temporarily or otherwise. In this memoir, Alison Bernhoft recounts how she discovered that she could train her messy home to do half her teaching, while much of the other half unfolded “entropy style”—in the natural process of everyday life. You can homeschool too!

Reading Aloud

One cupboard in the kitchen was devoted to puzzles, current read-alouds, and building toys. A jigsaw puzzle would often fill that difficult “arsenic hour” before dinner, while building spatial discrimination and fine motor skills. Building toys of all descriptions were a regular hazard in negotiating safe passage across the floor. As tempting as it was to confine the mess to a computer screen and purchase virtual Lego, I’m glad I didn’t. Manually manipulating real objects in three dimensions plays a vital role in brain development, and besides, it’s a lot more satisfying to show off colorful 3-D creations to an admiring audience when they can be tripped over.

This cupboard was raided at reading-aloud time, which usually happened twice a day and formed the backbone of the children’s education. I tended to gear the books to the eldest, and the younger ones were free to sit in. It was amazing to me how much they understood, even in difficult books. Rather against my better judgment, I found myself reading Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations when Sheila was only two, and I wondered if the book meant anything to her at all. Right on cue, she removed her nose from her drawing to ask why Pip’s sister was so unkind to him. Apparently she was following the action quite well. Given a steady diet of difficult books, she would undoubtedly have lost interest—but one thrown into the mix here and there seemed to whet her appetite for more. 

The price of finding good books to read aloud was eternal vigilance. Notebook in hand, I scoured books such as Jim Trelease’s The Read-Aloud Handbook, listing unfamiliar authors that looked promising and hoping their output was not marred by the unevenness that seems to plague some writers.

Reading a variety of reviews helped. I tried to select a variety of books, not just fiction. I regret now not having read more biographies—for some inexplicable reason I thought they would be boring. How wrong I was! It is both fascinating and inspiring to read about the hardships and obstacles most great people have had to overcome. We tend to think that life should be easy, and strive to make it so for our children, but the truth is that most famous people have had to struggle, often against overwhelming odds, to become who they are.

I am reminded of a story about a butterfly enthusiast who witnessed a very rare butterfly struggling to emerge from its chrysalis. Only the tip of one wing remained trapped. Seeking to help, the man took a small pair of scissors and carefully snipped the chrysalis to free the wing. The butterfly spread its wings in the sun to dry. To his horror, the man saw that the part of the wing he had freed remained crumpled; it never became strong enough to fly. Apparently, struggle was necessary for the creature to be properly formed. The same seems to be true of humans. I’m not saying we should deprive our children or deliberately cause them hardships—no doubt life will provide them plenty—but by all means read to them about those who have faced difficulties and disappointments and overcome them. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”

It seems I was not alone in my suspicion of biographies: when Lorna selected a volume on the life and times of Franz Josef Haydn, she was thrilled to discover she was the first person to check it out in sixty years! The discovery gave her interest in music of the Classical era a considerable boost. I never minded my children being busy while I read to them: listening to books is a predominantly left brain activity, so keeping the right brain occupied actually helps the child concentrate on what she is hearing. She might color, do a puzzle, or build quietly, my only rule being that the noise of her rummaging through the box of Lincoln Logs must not drown out my voice. If she preferred, she could simply daydream—there would be no comprehension test. Indeed, none was necessary: I found each morning that when I reviewed the previous day’s reading before embarking on the next chapter, the children were invariably the ones helping me recall the action, not vice versa.

At some point in their development, all the children—boys included—enjoyed embroidery. I picked up Christmas ornament kits for next to nothing in July, and by late November we had several gems to add to the tree. Knitting too was highly popular. In liking to knit, Evan takes after the English grandfather he never knew, who used to relax by knitting fantastically intricate baby clothes whenever a close friend of the family gave birth. We probably looked like a scene from Little House on the Prairie, knitting and stitching while Mother read, but those were some of our happiest homeschooling times—and although Robin didn’t play the violin like Pa, at least he wasn’t moved to substitute the bagpipes.

I wondered if my tolerance for extraneous activity was hampering the children’s concentration. Seeing Lorna intent on her jigsaw puzzle, seemingly oblivious to the world around her, I asked her if she was able to follow the story. She looked up, surprise written all over her face. “Well of course,” she replied. “Why wouldn’t I?” To her, it was incomprehensible that the puzzle might be considered a distraction. 

As the children grew older, their listening activities included tracing maps of the countries we were reading about, as well as coloring photocopied pages from historically appropriate Dover and Bellerophon coloring books. Tracing maps was the mainstay of their training in geography, apart from the hours spent at the kitchen table admiring the world map.

Over the years, we made salt-and-flour maps of the US, Israel, and Egypt, and once we fashioned the Far East out of mashed potato. I’m not particularly proud of this shortfall in geography education, but it worked for us, and the children’s knowledge of the countries of the world is better than many. At least they’ve never asked if you need a passport for New Mexico, or wondered if you can drive to Hawaii, as did one applicant for the position of receptionist in Robin’s office. And she was a college graduate!

To keep track of the books we read, I drew a rudimentary bookcase on a large piece of poster board, stuck it on the wall, and cut a generous supply of book spines of various heights and thicknesses from construction paper. Every time we finished a book, one of us wrote the title and author on a spine and stuck it on the bookcase. We all enjoyed looking over the books we had read—it gave us quite a sense of accomplishment.

Excerpted from Entropy Academy by Alison Bernhoft, full of easy and comforting homeschooling guidance and available here! Looking for more tips? See “Visual Materials,” “Science in the Kitchen,” and “Bath Time.” An excellent read-aloud option is Doniga Markegard’s young adult memoir Wolf Girl, which can be ordered here.


Entropy Academy: SCIENCE IN THE KITCHEN #homeschool

Are you suddenly homeschooling? Maybe you’ve made the choice to do it long-term. We’re here to make sure it’s a joyful and fun experience—it doesn’t have to be daunting and overwhelming. We’ve created a four-part series of easy homeschooling tips and inspiration for anyone starting out (and for veterans too!).  These tips are from Entropy Academy, a homeschooling parent’s memoir full of guidance and inspiration for anyone educating their kids outside of the institution of public education, temporarily or otherwise. In this memoir, Alison Bernhoft recounts how she discovered that she could train her messy home to do half her teaching, while much of the other half unfolded “entropy style”—in the natural process of everyday life. You can homeschool too!

Science in the Kitchen

All the growing of plants and sprouting of seeds that went on both in and out of the kitchen taught the children worlds about science, as did cooking. Especially bread. I never lacked for an enthusiastic helper when it was time to bake, and each child in turn learned that yeast needs three things to thrive: water, food, and warmth. What do people need to thrive? Water, food, warmth—and love. Studies in Russian orphanages found that even when babies were kept warm and adequately fed, they failed to thrive in the absence of a loving touch. Maybe a little TLC wouldn’t hurt the “yeasties” either: water just the right temperature, a pinch of sugar for food, and being left to rest undisturbed in a warm place (sounded pretty idyllic to me). We chose strong bread flour for its high gluten content, and noticed how stretchy the dough became as our vigorous kneading strengthened the gluten. One year, I ran out of strong flour to bake my traditional huge recipe of Christmas bread. A special trip to the store seemed far too much like hard work, so I made do with what happened to be on hand: low-gluten all-purpose flour. Never again! Even after the dough was kneaded the regulation 150 times, and a half-dozen stiffly beaten egg whites folded in, the yeasties were evidently on strike. The loaves were as sorry a sight coming out of the oven as they had been going in.

The only means of transporting live yeast across the continent during the Westward Expansion was sourdough. As part of a history unit, Fiona and I mixed together a cup of flour, one of water, and a quarter teaspoon of yeast, leaving it to sour for several days, loosely covered, on a counter. A second batch was made without commercial yeast, and left uncovered to be colonized by naturally occurring, “wild” yeast. The image of us lassoing wild yeast, rounding it up, and herding it into our bowl of starter had Fiona and me in stitches.

We baked loaves from both starters, after taking out enough dough to start up the next batch of bread, five days down the trail. I wondered if our family’s appetite for bread could possibly keep pace with two sourdough starters, but the wild yeast batch soon turned rancid, and was summarily discarded.

Quick breads are leavened not by yeast, but by baking powder. This combination of an alkali (usually baking soda) and acid (typically cream of tartar) gives off carbon dioxide when mixed with a liquid. The gas bubbles introduce air into the bread just as the yeast bubbles do, the main difference being that yeast takes some time to work, while baking powder works instantly. “Double-acting” baking powder keeps working longer, but even so, without the strengthened gluten of yeast bread, quick breads are crumbly when cut. To demonstrate how acid and alkali combine in a chemical reaction, I had the children make three small piles of baking soda. To the first we added water, which is neutral. No bubbles. To the second, we added water and a solid acid such as cream of tartar, and noted the resulting fizz. In the third pile, the addition of an acidic liquid—buttermilk or lemon juice—caused an equal exuberance of bubbles. We deduced that if a recipe for biscuits contains buttermilk, some of the acidic baking powder needs to be replaced by alkaline baking soda. We also realized that if, in the course of making buttermilk pancakes, we found we were out of buttermilk, we could “sour” the milk with a little vinegar or lemon juice.

A child who has helped cook chicken at 350°F and at 500°F will not be surprised to learn that heat accelerates rate of change, nor will one who has watched potatoes cook at a hard boil versus a gentle simmer. Those same potatoes can demonstrate osmosis: we left a potato in a bowl of water tinted with food coloring for a few hours, then cut the potato in half to see how the color had been absorbed.

While we had the food coloring out, I put a stick of celery in a jar of red-tinted water. Once the color had tinged the leaves, Evan carefully cut across the stalk and found that the vesicles carrying water up the plant were dyed bright red. One Fourth of July we made a white carnation patriotic by splitting its stem three ways and putting each end in a jar of red, blue, or clear water. Capillary action never looked prettier.

On Tuesdays, we enjoyed a snack that reinforced our knowledge of the Earth’s structure: Earth Balls. A chocolate chip formed the core, and this was surrounded by peanut butter play dough representing the mantle. (To make the play dough we smooshed together one cup of peanut butter, half a cup of dry milk powder, and honey to taste—about 1/4 to 1/2 cup.) Each ball was then rolled in finely crushed graham cracker crumbs, which approximated the Earth’s crust. Looking at a cross section diagram of the Earth, we realized that our “crust” was about one hundred times too thick, but it tasted good, and we never forgot the sequence: core—mantle—crust.

The center of the Earth is both liquid and solid: liquid, because the heat is so extreme that it melts even the hardest rock; and solid, because the pressure is so colossal that matter is super-compressed. How can something be at the same time liquid and solid? We never tired of answering that question with cornstarch and water. Made into a paste that could be thick or runny according to the whim of the moment, the cornstarch feels solid when tapped with a finger; but let that finger rest on the surface awhile, and it sinks into a pure liquid. All five fingers together can pull up an angular chunk, but once that chunk is airborne it will slip between the fingers and pour back into the bowl in a steady, liquid stream.

Excerpted from Entropy Academy by Alison Bernhoft, full of easy and comforting homeschooling guidance and available here! Looking for more tips? See “Bath Time,” “Visual Materials,” and “Reading Aloud!”


Entropy Academy: BATH TIME #homeschool

Are you suddenly homeschooling? Maybe you’ve made the choice to do it long-term. We’re here to make sure it’s a joyful and fun experience—it doesn’t have to be daunting and overwhelming. We’ve created a four-part series of low-stress schooling-at-home tips and inspiration for anyone starting out (and for veterans too!). These tips are from Entropy Academy, a homeschooling parent’s memoir full of guidance and inspiration for anyone educating their kids outside of the institution of public education, temporarily or otherwise. In this memoir, Alison Bernhoft recounts how she discovered that she could train her messy home to do half her teaching, while much of the other half unfolded “entropy style”—in the natural process of everyday life. 

Bath Time

Turning our bathroom into an Automatic Learning Center was as easy as—well, turning on a faucet. I capitalized on the fact that I had, as it were, a captive audience (show me the person who doesn’t spend any time in the loo and I’ll say you have a freak of nature). Up on the walls went my favorite calendars: one invited the children to tackle a daily math problem, with a small financial incentive to be the first with the correct answer, while in a different bathroom, guests were regaled with natural disasters—hurricanes, tornadoes, and lightning storms. It became quite a talking point.

The pile of books that lay within striking range of the seating area included random books of jokes, puns and oddities, crosswords, anagrams, the always inspirational Book of Heroic Failures: The Official Handbook of the Not Terribly Good Club of Great Britain (currently available, I am thankful to say, through Amazon), and Brush Up Your Shakespeare! by Michael Macrone. The latter offers “an infectious tour through the most famous and quotable words and phrases from the Bard.” Through its pages we became familiar with several plays, as well as phrases that are in (semi-) popular use today, from the well-known “If music be the food of love, play on” (Twelfth Night) to the ever-handy, “Hoist with his own petard” (Hamlet).

But it was in the bathtub itself that things became truly exciting. A set of graduated stacking beakers encouraged the children to discover that a smaller receptacle could never hold as much as a bigger one, no matter how often they tried. Plastic measuring cups informed them that a half-cup measure would always hold two quarter cups. We held air under water using a clear plastic disposable cup, tilted the cup slightly, and laughed at the noise of the bubbles surfacing. Which is heavier, water or air? That’s right, water. Is it always? Yes. What would happen if it weren’t? Where would the ocean go? The rivers? What would happen when we turned on the tap and put a glass underneath to catch the water? 

Bath time was a good time to introduce the children to the three states of water: they’re sitting in the liquid form, they can see the steam (gas), and the freezer usually had some (solid) ice cubes handy. We’d guess which would melt more quickly, an ice cube in the tub or one in a pitcher of cold water. How about if we have another ice cube in a second jug and stir the water? Does the ice cube melt any quicker, or do we just get cold fingers? We noticed that ice always floats, and thought about how disastrous it would be to aquatic life if it sank instead.

Clear plastic tubing was a great discovery, and considerably increased our arsenal of bubble-blowing techniques. We inverted a plastic cup underwater, so it was full of water, then used the plastic tubing to blow the water out, replacing it with air. Now we have air under water; does that mean it has stopped being lighter than water? What happens if we tip the glass just a tiny bit? A tiny bubble comes out! What happens if we tip a glass a big bit? A big bubble comes out!

 A sieve in the bathtub steadfastly refused to hold water. What happens if we line it with a dry washcloth and slowly add 1/4 cup of water? Where does the water go? Into the washcloth! How much water can one washcloth absorb? Let’s find out. Suppose we line the sieve with a plastic bag: how much water goes through? None! It is all still in the sieve; plastic is impermeable to water. Even the tiny water molecules cannot penetrate the plastic. 

Possibilities for educating in the tub are numerous, and as enjoyable as they are manifold. Books with titles like Science in the Tub gave me a much fuller idea of the scientific potential of the evening bath, and these days, Googling “science in the bathtub” reveals a wealth of tricks to try. It’s a softcore way of teaching some hardcore science.

Excerpted from Entropy Academy by Alison Bernhoft, full of easy and comforting homeschooling guidance. Paperback available from Chelsea Green and e-book via Amazon! Looking for more tips? See “Visual Materials,” Science in the Kitchen,” and “Reading Aloud!”


Entropy Academy: VISUAL MATERIALS #homeschool

Are you suddenly homeschooling? Maybe you’ve made the choice to do it long-term. We’re here to make sure it’s a joyful and fun experience—it doesn’t have to be daunting and overwhelming. We’ve created a four-part series of low-stress schooling-at-home tips and inspiration for anyone starting out (and for veterans too!). These tips are from Entropy Academy, a homeschooling parent’s memoir full of guidance and inspiration for anyone educating their kids outside of the institution of public education, temporarily or otherwise. In this memoir, Alison Bernhoft recounts how she discovered that she could train her messy home to do half her teaching, while much of the other half unfolded “entropy style”—in the natural process of everyday life. 

Visual Materials

I began with the kitchen, which was where we spent most of our time, and purchased two large maps: the world map went on the kitchen table, the US map on the wall. I was scandalized to see that the world map cut Asia in half so that America would be in the middle of the map. Fuming quietly (well all right, fuming noisily, as my children will tell you), I cut the map down the International Date Line and stuck Asia back together with Scotch tape. I put it on the table and covered the whole thing with clear contact paper. It wasn’t heatproof, but it lasted a while—somewhere between two and ten years, depending on my tolerance for singed and melted bits on the kitchen table. Over the years we tried out different maps; our favorite was one that showed all the flags of the world at the bottom. Periodically we would turn the table around so everyone got to admire the flags; it amazed me how many the children knew. And that map didn’t cut Asia in half! 

The map was there, undeniably, and the children saw it every day. But there is a world (literally) of difference between seeing and noticing, and I was thrilled to find a game that had them examining the map most carefully: one person takes the first two letters of a country and the last two letters of a neighboring country, makes a four-letter word, and challenges the family to name the countries. For instance, SWeden and NorwAY make SWAY, while BRAY is a “two-fer,” Brazil and either Paraguay or Uruguay. To my knowledge, the word BURE exists solely to draw attention to Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire, two small countries of West Africa that might otherwise be eclipsed by their larger neighbors, Mali and Niger.

The map of the States on the wall was primarily for reference, but Iain used it to learn his states by pinging rubber bands at them from across the room: “This one’s for Tennessee…watch out, New Mexico, here I come!” 

As the children grew older, and particularly when they started driving, road maps jockeyed for position on the wall: Washington State, Everett, and the greater Seattle area were all readily available for trip planning or simply browsing. These maps helped us develop a strong sense of “north,” which a reliance on today’s GPS technology does little to cultivate.

Excerpted from Entropy Academy by Alison Bernhoft, full of easy and comforting homeschooling guidance. Paperback available from Chelsea Green and e-book via Amazon! Looking for more tips? See “Bath Time,”Science in the Kitchen,” and “Reading Aloud!”


PP’s Holiday Gift Guide 2019

If you’re rushing around this holiday season, trying to find gifts for everyone on your list, we’d like to help you out a bit! There’s no better gift than a book, and at Propriometrics Press we have health, fitness, and nature-focused books that will be a hit with all!

Looking for a gift for…

The new mom? Katy Bowman’s Diastasis Recti focuses on an issue that is common post-pregnancy: diastasis recti. This book will help strengthen your core and explain the underlying habits that are causing abdo

The eco-lover? The collection of essays in Movement Matters, also by Katy Bowman, will pique any eco-lover’s interest as it delves into connections between the body, nature, and your greater community.

The Goldener? Dynamic Aging is a must-have book for those 50+ who are looking to either regain or maintain their mobility and agility throughout their Golden Years.

The goal-setter? Roland and Galina Denzel’s Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well is an actionable guide with 275 “take-action-now” tips and a checklist at the end of every chapter that makes it easy for someone to stick to their New Years resolution to become healthier in 2020.

The wilderness lover? Doniga Markegard’s lyrical memoir Dawn Again will take you along on her journey through the Pacific Northwest and beyond—tracking wolves, herding cattle, and becoming connected to the natural world around her.

The exerciser? Move Your DNA is one of Katy Bowman’s most well-loved books, as it provides corrective exercises, habit modifications, and even simple lifestyle changes that will all help you to become more movement-rich in your day-to-day life.

The scientist? Though you certainly don’t need to be a scientist to read, understand, and enjoy Katy Bowman’s Alignment Matters, her essays on the biomechanics of movement, optical alignment, and “troubleshooting the human machine” will definitely be appreciated by someone with a love of learning about the science of the human body.

The office worker? Is there someone on your list who is worried their 8+ hours a day sitting in front of a computer is wrecking their health and bodies? Get them Katy Bowman’s Don’t Just Sit There, which will show them how they can keep moving throughout the day, even when at the office.


Take a walk on the range

Guest post by Dawn Again author Doniga Markegard

Just outside my front door there is a field of stinging nettles the size of half a city block. It is the healthiest plot of nettles I have yet to see.

It was not always that way. There was an old barn on the hill above, that once was a milking barn and then held moonshine during prohibition. The activities in the barn helped pay the mortgage on the ranch and supported the growing family of settlers. When my husband arrived on the ranch the barn was falling down, due to lack of maintenance. The new owners made money elsewhere and simply used the ranch as an escape from the modern day stresses and routine.

The barn was bulldozed into the ground. Remnants of the roaring Twenties and a family of farmers making a go at life in California would soon turn to dirt. That dirt would then be fresh breeding ground for seeds that were carried along the coastal winds, dropped by birds as they migrated or a fox as he marked a territory. The seeds that lay in the freshly disturbed earth were not those that dominated the surrounding grasslands. They were seeds that some call the name forbidden to utter in some circles, the dirty word that many groups dedicate themselves to seek out and conquer: Invasive Species.

Poison hemlock, ripgut brome and medusahead all are icing on the cake of the conqueror. As these species drift around the world, looking for an opportunity to propagate, we have a choice to view them as a problem or an opportunity. So when the dirt became home to Italian thistle and poison hemlock, we put in the pigs. In nature, waste equals food, so if we are to mimic nature, everything eats and is eaten. When we want to sculpt our lives and our landscapes, that basic principle can help us avoid dissonance. The pigs did what they do: eat everything. They ate the roots of the plants because we let them stay long enough to feast on the starchy taproots of the thistle. Then we moved them off and let the ground rest and recover from the disturbance.

Winter set in, and soon a diversity of plants began to establish in the pig fertilized and disturbed earth. We did not spread any seeds, just waited and watched as the drifters found a settling place amongst the diversity and chaos. The result is a field of stinging nettle that is so healthy that the top leaves are the size of my hand—despite the drought—rivaling those of the Pacific Northwest, where everything is greener and bigger. So when life brings us stinging nettles, what more are we to do than to eat, a basic behavior we share with all life on earth. The act of gathering, preparing food and then the celebration of eating helps us to tap into that familiar comfort of not only surviving, but thriving.

Each species has a role and once we begin viewing this diversity as something to celebrate rather than select, isolate and destroy, the better off our lives and landscapes will become. The ranches on which our livestock graze support 66 species of birds and 157 species of plants. In all this diversity there is food being grown. How we tend to that food source is up to each and every individual. For our family, in spring, an abundance of stinging nettle means it’s time to make stinging nettle chips!

Recipe: Stinging Nettle Chips

Ingredients:

Top 3 or 4 sets of leaves of the stinging nettle plant before they flower in the early spring

Olive Oil

Apple Cider Vinegar

Nutritional Yeast

Sea Salt

Instructions:

Harvest the nettle, be creative, collect as many as you can. See page 211 of Dawn Again to learn how to harvest without gloves. I also recently worked with my daughter Quince and I held a bag under the plant while she carefully cut the leaves with scissors. Enjoy the adventure of interacting with the plant.

Find a bowl large enough to fit all the nettles. Pour in the olive oil and vinegar about 3 parts oil to one part vinegar. Stir in the nutritional yeast until you have a slurry. Add in a couple pinches of salt to taste. Set all the trimmed leaves of the stinging nettle as well as the top group of leaves that form a bud. With a wooden spoon gently massage the oil mixture into the nettles until they are thoroughly coated. Pour in more oil as needed to coat the nettle. Take your time with this, part of the process is to massage out the stingers. Don’t tear the leaves, just work the oil into the surface. You know when it is ready when you pick up a raw nettle leaf, eat it and it does not sting your tongue. When you taste it, go through a sense meditation before you place the leave on your tongue. Then use your intuition to add more salt, fat or acid to the mix. See page 60 of Dawn Again for sense meditation. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and place the nettles flat on a cookie sheet. Cook for about 20 mins, turning half way through until the leaves are crisp but not burnt.


Practice What You Publish: How to Start a Walking Book Club (and Why You Might Want To)

STEPHANIE DOMET January 9, 2018 2 Comments

This special guest “practice what you publish” edition of the Propriometrics Press blog is written by our publisher and best-selling author, Katy Bowman. Keen on getting us all moving more, here’s one idea to help you #stackyourlife for more movement.

 

A walking book club allows us to address multiple needs—movement, community, idea development, and the exchange of perspectives—all at once (#stackyourlife). If you work as a movement teacher, it’s also an excellent way to connect with more students and expand the types of movement you’re offering. Starting one is simple–there are so many ways to go about creating one!

  1. Choose a book that’s going to be accessible to a wide range of people. Make sure it’s at the local library, for example, and consider checking if it’s available as an audiobook or ebook (giving font size options) too.
  2. Contact the author or publisher and see if you might be able to obtain a discount code for a bulk purchase.
  3. Announce the book to the people you’re inviting to join, giving people about a month of lead time to read it, and include the discount code if you received one.
  4. Choose your route. You want to have about two or three hours of time to properly discuss a book, so choose the route accordingly.

Note: I suggest having your first walking book club route be over quite simple and accessible terrain, so that all bodies feel comfortable joining. Once you have your club established and have an idea of the varied abilities of those involved, you can decide if you want to increase the complexity of your route, with inclines, natural terrain, etc. Ideally you could make the walk a bit harder over the course of the book club (so over six months, for example).

  1. About two weeks before, send out another note about the book club, detailing the route and asking for RSVPs. Also ask those interested to flag sections of the book they’d like to discuss more.
  2. On the day of the walking book club, facilitate the discussion in a way that gives space for all voices. Hearing different perspectives and ideas is the best part of a book club! Our editor Penelope Jackson (who’s participated in tons of book club sessions) suggests: “Make sure to create space for people who hated the book but might be too shy to say so. An easy way to facilitate this is with an ‘I see most of us loved the book! Were there any criticisms? I personally felt that the book was a little X.’ You can formalize the discussion by taking turns, or you can ask everyone to start by giving the book a star rating and a quick explanation.”

 

There are countless books out there—and we want to read most of them! You don’t have to read books about movement for a dynamic book club (I’m currently reading sci-fi in preparation for an upcoming walk and talk), but if you’re trying this idea out because you’re in a movement mindset, a book about movement might be a good choice.

We really love #indiebooks, so below here are some you might not have heard of, as well as some compilations of books on trekking long distances and books that make you feel like being and moving in nature! Do you have a book you’d suggest? Please leave it in the comments below!

10 Great Outdoor Adventure Books for Hikers

National Outdoor Leadership Skills “Favorite Books About Leadership by Women”

Wanderlust by Rebecca Solnit

The Body is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor

Off Trail by Jane Parnell

Yak Girl by Dorje Dolma

Honouring High Places by Junko Tabei

Dawn Again by Doniga Markegard

 

 

 


Nature school rules

As kids and parents everywhere get ready to get back to school—whatever that might mean in households and communities across the continent and beyond—we’re getting ready to publish Dawn Again, by Doniga Markegard. As well as being a memoir of Doniga’s time as a wildlife tracker and regenerative rancher, it is also a love letter to a nature-based education.

 

Doniga was fifteen years old and rebelling hard when she finally found her way to the Wilderness Awareness School near her home in Washington State. Attending high school through WAS changed Doniga’s life for the better (you can read more about that here), and the experience continues to ripple and reverberate through her adult life, and into the lives of her children, all of whom are also students at their local nature school in San Mateo County, California. And Doniga has kept her hand in, too. She’s an instructor at Riekes Center for Human Enhancement, bringing what she learned in nature school to a new generation of students.

Because Doniga is passionate about nature education, she’s looking forward to celebrating the launch of Dawn Again with an interactive Facebook Live event on Wednesday, November 1. We’re inviting nature school administrators and parents to take part, as well as anyone who’s curious about a nature-based education and whether it’s right for their family. The event is called What Comes After Nature School?, and it’s free and open to all who are interested.

The details:

What: An interactive Facebook Live event called What Comes After Nature School?

Who: Doniga Markegard, regenerative rancher, nature school graduate, author of forthcoming memoir Dawn Again: Tracking the Wisdom of the Wild

When: Wednesday, November 1 at 4pm-5pm PST 

Where: Online, wherever you are! It’s all happening on our Facebook page

Why: To hear about Doniga’s nature school experience, the ways in which it prepared her for college and her adult life, and why she chooses it for her own children now, and to have your own questions about nature education answered

We look forward to seeing you there!


Move Your DNA: Dynamic Reading and Writing

This special guest edition of the Propriometrics Press blog is written by our publisher and best-selling author, Katy Bowman

I identify as a mover, but I also write a lot about movement. I’m a mover who writes. I think the way I identify is key, as it influences how I get my writing done. Because I define myself as a mover, I’m rarely unmoving—even when I’m being productive in ways we think of as sedentary.

I’ve written eight books (EIGHT BOOKS!) in the last few years, so clearly I’m in a passionate relationship with my computer. Also, I love books. I love reading them, taking pictures of them, and discussing them. Books have been key to my life. They not only teach me facts, they teach me new ways of seeing the world. So, reading and writing. How do those go with movement when both seem so sedentary?

Move Your DNA (and also Don’t Just Sit There) are books that show how to infuse movement into the non-exercise parts of your day. The movements are smaller than large feats of exercise, but they’re movements nonetheless. Often, getting more movement (and moving more of you) comes down to positioning yourself differently.

When you hold up your own body instead of leaning it against the back of a chair, you use your core muscles more subtly than you do when holding a plank, sure, but you can do it while you work or read. Cycling through sitting cross-legged, sitting with your legs in a V, or kneeling while you chop your veggies for dinner is an easy way to stretch. Wearing minimalist shoes (or no shoes) gives all the muscles in your feet a chance to strengthen, even with no added “exercise” time. Standing up to email, working outside whenever possible so your body is responding to fluctuations in light, temperature, sound, wind velocity, and more—all these things add movements to your life you may never have considered before.

Propriometrics Press is a #practicewhatyoupublish company. Meaning, the books we publish infiltrate the lives of our staff and authors. Many of you have asked “what position do you read or work in?” so I thought I’d show you how all of us work with books on the move.

Our editor-in-chief, Penelope, nature lover, often works outside.

If she’s not outside, it’s likely blizzarding (anyone in Nova Scotia will tell you that should be a word). If stuck inside, she’ll create an obstacle course and walk it a couple times an hour because movement and creativity are related and really, it just makes us feel better overall.

Our book covers are all dynamic thanks to Zsofi and her dynamic workstation.

Note: Canine co-opting is a thing. You’ve been warned. #theydontcallitdowndogfornothing

Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well authors Galina Denzel and Roland Denzel are not only great at coaching many on how to fit more movement into their life, they’re also good at doing it themselves. Galina’s reading sessions look very similar to a workout:

And Roland can often be spotted walking and audiobooking (when I make up words, I tend to go for it).

Doniga Markegard, author of Dawn Again: Tracking The Wisdom of the Wild and Wolf Girl: Finding Myself in the Wild balances writing time with nature time by writing in nature. This is the cool thing about being outside while working: you’re being moved by your environment, even while sitting there.

Now and then our Dynamic Aging authors, Lora, Shelah, Joan, and Joyce come down out of the trees to work. Whether it’s a standing work desk, exercise-reading hybrids, or simply going outside, what you see modeled here are ways to move more of you.

Sometimes, oftentimes, it takes less to move more. Less leg (on the table) means more leg (positions not available in a chair, and use getting up and down from her lowered desk) for Stephanie, our Director of Operations.

And finally, some of my favorite read-exercise hybrids involve my piriformis and legs up the wall.

Some of my less favorite (or perhaps it’s just less productive) movements include working with my children, literally, on my back.

You can also watch this video of me working over a 60-minute period (it’s sped up to two minutes because watching me work is sort of like watching paint dry) to see how much movement goes into my “office” time—a time many perceive as mandatory stillness.

So there you have it. Books can move you. Not only your mind, but your body too.


By the Book: Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well

It’s October, and here on the eastern edge of the continent, that means changing leaves, frosty mornings, and earlier nights. The urge to cocoon is strong—but the season also offers amazing opportunities to be outside, a literal farmers’ market’s-worth of fresh, amazing produce, a deep desire to batch-cook soups and sauces, and, if we’re being honest, a to-do list as long as my arm.

We’re readying new books for publication this fall, getting our spring list in order, and dreaming of future projects to share with you, too. It can make for long days in the Propriometrics Press office—and it’s work that we love, so it’s easy to lose track of everything else while our noses are to the grindstone.

Which is why I’ve been making a few minutes every day to really think about the wisdom contained in one of the books we’re bringing out this fall. We published Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well on October 1, and authors Galina and Roland Denzel will hold a launch party for the book on October 15 in Orange County. We’re pretty excited about that. We worked hard on this book all year, and we’re pumped that it’s available now in stores and online. That part is all great. But one of the true perqs of this job is getting to dive deep into inspiring material every day. With Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well, it’s the four key chapters identified by the Denzels as the ones readers should start with: The Sunday Food Ritual, Tame Your Sugar Monster, Walk More Today, The Dynamic Office.

It’s fitting this book is published in October, a perfect time to fully explore what these lessons have to offer. That Sunday Food Ritual chapter is about finding the time—making the time—to commit to setting yourself up for healthy food success all week by spending an afternoon or evening doing some batch cooking. img_2701In the example the Denzels give, you make a simple slow cooker pork pot roast with vegetables, which gives you enough for Sunday night’s supper, and two more suppers later in the week. Just the words slow cooker pork pot roast make me want to hit the kitchen—and thinking about having three suppers done and dusted in one go fills me with glee. Chilly October nights seem like a perfect time to get into this habit.

And I’m ever mindful that the holidays are approaching, with all their sugary delights, so October also seems like a good time to find a way to tame my sugar monster. There’s an abundance of fresh fruit to be had—plums, peaches, apples, pears, there are even still strawberries in my farmers’ market most Saturdays, though I’m sure there can’t be many strawberry Saturdays left. img_2705I’ve been savoring that fresh fruit as it comes in, and doing my best to can and preserve as much as I am able for the long winter nights to come. And with the cooler temperatures here, both day and night, Galina’s advice to sip a sweet-tasting herbal tea like licorice or rooibos feels like exactly the right thing to do while I contemplate my relationship with sugar, and why I want to be in charge, rather than letting sugar run the show.

And then there is the glorious exhortation to Walk More Today. It is the constant entry on my to-do list. No matter how much I walk, I can always walk more. This morning I kept my regular weekly appointment with a couple other writers at the central branch of the public library, downtown. Then I walked part-way home with one of the writers, stopping in at our local bookstore on the way, and chatting about our work as we went. We split off in different directions and I loped along, drinking in the impossibly clear, impossibly blue October sky, the heartbreaking reds and yellows and oranges of autumn leaves, the feeling of the sunshine on my skin, the expressions on the faces of the people I passed as I walked, and the company of my own thoughts. img_3457I concentrated on my gait as best I could, and then I just let my attention wander. I thought about the project I’m writing, and about the work awaiting me in the Propriometrics Press office. I returned to my desk feeling refreshed and nourished by my time outside, spent walking.

Speaking of my desk! I loved Roland’s chapter on The Dynamic Office. When I had a full-time media job, I sat for years and years, until finally one day I rebelled against the sit-down culture and made my own stand-up desk. Then I stood for years and years. Then I quit that job, and came to work for Propriometrics and started doing my work sitting on the floor, or lying on the floor, or while walking to the store, or standing in the kitchen, or—well, you get the idea. I’d do my work wherever I could, in as many different positions as I could. But not everyone has that kind of flexibility (if you will). Maybe you have to sit at a desk, and if that’s the case, Roland offers ideas and advice to make your desk time more dynamic, and, importantly, to make your non-desk time more dynamic to counteract all that undynamic desk time! fullsizerenderHis advice to keep a log of your daily time spent sitting was also world-rocking. I thought I was pretty dynamic—but there are always more ways to move.

And on that note, it’s time for me to get up, stretch a little, maybe get a cup of licorice tea, and walk to the store to get some supplies for supper for tonight and beyond. Sometimes the Sunday Ritual is really the Wednesday ritual. But as the book says, it doesn’t matter when you do it, so long as you get it done!