Book Spotlight: Small Fry Outdoors by Caroline Webster

I really hate to admit, especially because I’m an educator who knows better, that I’m afraid of the outdoors. I’m scared of getting sunburnt or getting wet in the rain, I get the shivers just thinking about what dangerous creepy crawlies I might find nestled in the dirt and I’m petrified of letting my daughter near any plants in fear that they may be poisonous.

I recognise and highly value the importance of children exploring the outdoors. I desperately want to change my attitude, but the simple truth is that I need some guidance in this area. I need to know what’s safe and what’s not. I need some inspiration to entice me to walk out of those doors away from a place where I feel warm and safe. I need some ideas that will help me enjoy the outdoors with my daughter so that I don’t pass my anxieties onto her.

Small Fry: Outdoors meets my needs and offers much more. Maybe you’re nothing like me. Maybe you enjoy being outdoors. I assure you this book will still be a winner for you.

We currently have a copy of this book to give away. Find out more.

Small Fry Outdoors is one in a series of books which also includes Small Fry: Cooking and Small Fry: Play. It is a great sized book and is full of inspiration for being outdoors with kids, making it one of the handiest reference books for parents.

The author, Caroline (Caro) Webster is a passionate believer in the magic of being outdoors and encouraging unstructured play in children, and this really shines through in the book.

Small Fry: Outdoors has so many wonderful attributes:

It’s visually appealing: Possibly taking up more space than the text itself are the most captivating images. They are bright, colourful, motivating and they capture the authentic curiosity of children as they enjoy the outdoors. Honestly, the photos alone are enough inspiration to explore the outdoors.

It’s an easy read: Small Fry: Outdoors takes on a straightforward structure. The ideas in the book are practical, simple and very easy to employ.

It’s extremely versatile: Small Fry: Outdoors is not a prescriptive book for parents. The layout actually means you can make use of the book in a number of different ways:

  • Read it from cover to cover and work through all of the activities listed
  • Read through the book and mark those activities that capture your interest
  • Search the book for recipes and activities suited to particular seasons
  • Use the book based on a concept you’d love to explore with your kids. For e.g. imagination, senses, colour etc.
  • Read through parts of the book with your children and ask them to choose an activity that interests them
  • Randomly open the book to a page

©2008 Susie Cameron, Katrina Crook and Caroline Webster (Small Fry: Outdoors, ABC Books)

It is thoughtful: Keeping with Caro’s philosophy of unstructured play, many of the activities in the book require very little planning. For those activities that do require planning there are some helpful numerical codes used to describe the difficulty of the task, the mess factor involved, the age suitability of the activity and the preparation time required.

It recognises the hurdles parents face when getting outdoors with kids: The book begins with an outline of what your child is likely to do outdoors at a particular age. It provides parents with a ‘getting started’ explanation, not only of how to use the book but what you need to consider when playing outdoors including the equipment you might need and safety issues.

It’s rich in content: There is such a large range of ideas and activities in the book (not to mention yummy recipes); Some are easy (cloud watching), some are more difficult (time capsule), some encourage free play (the humble puddle), some are more structured (baby leaf birds), some invite discovery (asking your children questions), some call on the imagination (making potions),  some are spontaneous (shadow puppets), some are planned (visiting a nursery or farm) and some make ordinary life more fun (washing the dog). Activities can be found under these thoughtful chapter headings:

  • Where the wild things are (personal discovery and imagination)
  • Every day (activities and chores)
  • Seasons
  • Senses
  • Concepts (Colours, shapes, letters and numbers, time, web of life)

Some of my favourite inspiration ideas from the book include a flowery high tea, egg carton delights, pet rocks, viola ice cubes, DIY (Flintstones-style) board game and adopting a fairy.

This is a staple book for every home and one that you and your children will be thankful for. The image above is proof we’ve been inspired.

Have you read Small Fry: Outdoors? How would you rate it?

Book Details:

Title: Small Fry – Outdoors: Inspiration for Being Outdoors with Kids

By: Susie Cameron and Katrina Crook.

Written by Caroline Webster


Format: Paperback

Publisher: ABC Books (HarperCollins), October 2008

Book Spotlight: Small Fry Outdoors by Caroline Webster


  1. Wow! This sounds fantastic! As a teacher i am always looking for new and interesting things to do in our playground. We reccently plant a vege patch and even after 12 weeks the students are still interested and check it every day! It would be great to use other activities to inspire interest in our environment and provide myriad opportunities for play based learning.

    • Yes, Caro is a big advocate for play based learning. I’m sure you’ll find lots of inspiration from this book. Good luck

  2. This book looks great, the pictures look amazing. I would love more activities for outdoor play being a mum of a 2 year old and an early childhood teacher.

    • My daughter is also 2. Lots of activities for the younger ones too- which is great. Good luck

  3. We have the Small Fry: Cooking book at it’s fab. While I’m quite happy to let the munchkin explore freely outdoors, and we even live on the edge of a big forest, I find coming up with ideas that will engage him can be quite challenging. He needs a little encouragement to get “out there” so ways to excite him and help him discover life outdoors would be great. (And one day I will win one of your giveaways!)

    • Yes Cath. This book will surely excite Munchkin. I think he’d particularly enjoy the activities in the ‘Discovery’ chapter.

  4. Wow!!! This book looks and sounds amazing. I was reading your first paragraph and I have to say I completely identify. I desperately want to give my daughter magical outdoor experiences but have no confidence to start. This book looks like the inspiration I’m craving.

    • I think you’re right. If you’re anything like me, this is the inspiration you’re craving. Good luck

  5. Lovely Jackie- I have this so don’t include me in the giveaway. We’re complete opposites, the cherubs and I love being outdoors, but put me in a playcentre and I start having conniptions!

    • I don’t like playcentres either. Thanks for your comments. Would love to hear your thoughts on the book.

      • I thought the book provided some fantastic prompts- eg look at a gumnut and pretend a fairy lives there, that sort of activity. I remember reading years ago about Spike Milligan encouraging his children to write to the fairies, and we would write back in tiny font, and that always makes me a little misty-eyed. I also think a book like this provides an opportunity to reflect on your day-to-day life and think about ways to make the mundane magical for your family life. Personally, I was doing a lot of the suggestions/activities anyway, but I like to take it to a different level and try to incorporate literature into the activities and ask the cherubs to think about how whatever it is they’re doing relates to language.

  6. We all need a little (or a lot of) inspiration to get outdoors some days.

  7. i love the fact that it encourages the kids (& me) to do more outside & i love the idea of randomly opening the book on a page & seeing what we can do for the day

  8. What a great book. I love getting outside with the kids, but I’m afraid that creativity is lacking at times, particularly when I’m tired! This book would give me new inspiration, which I think the kids would love.

  9. I live in Alaska and the outdoors- in all seasons- play a major role in the lives of my family. We ski in the winter, hike, fish and camp in the summer and pick berries and hunt in the fall. Our girls – ages 3 and 7- are experiencing the joys of wonder and exploration in the outdoors. As a former teacher and stay at home Mom, I hope to start leading young children in the outdoors and help other families learn the value of unstructured play and discovery in nature. Small Fry Ourtdoors looks like an invaluable resource!

  10. I just love the idea of this book. What a fabulous resources to use. The thing I love most is the idea of getting kids outdoors and engaging all the senses in the adventure.

  11. to tell the truth, I’d probably prefer to be inside reading a book. If it’s sunny, or we’re at the beach, I might make an exception…
    but I think a book like this could be the inspiration I need to take my little guy out into nature more often!

  12. This book sounds very inspiring, it would help me to find new ideas depending on the season!

  13. As a kinder teacher this book sounds very insiping. I would love to read it and use ideas for my wonderful kinder children. :)

  14. How fabulous. I love getting outside with the kids and they love being out there too. Will be great to try some practical little activities to do with them. Oh and love the egg carton flowers pictured here … so cute and can’t wait to try it with the kids!

  15. Ohhhhhh this sounds awesome! We spend an equal amount of time outside and inside ( outside getting dirty planting trees and gardening in the vegie garden and playing with chooks and dogs and building fires ,,,,inside often doing craft or art of some kind) but I am always up for more ideas on what to do outside( other than really practical stuff) Injections of fun are always welcome! Sounds great :)

  16. My son and I are beach fiends, we can tell you all about the rock pools, and the sand, the sea, and the creatures …

    But we haven’t ventured further! This book would be great in helping us find our land lubber legs!!

  17. This book sounds fantastic….. I love books with beautiful images and photographs for inspiration… I also love the idea of working and doing activities with the seasons, and by concepts. We love spending time outside but sometimes we just lack the inspiration for creative play… This book sounds like it has plenty of ideas! Thanks x

  18. It sounds like a fantastic book. Just love how you have written this too, the seedlings in the egg shells look fun!

  19. Suzi said: On August 5, 2011

    This book looks like lots of fun – filled with lots of ideas for a 12month old and 5 year to explore, create and have fun together

  20. Wow!!!! What’s not to like – beautiful photos showing happy beautiful children, fairy gardens, and a reference to The Flinstones!!!! Perfect inspiration to get out there and get big and small hands dirty!!!!

  21. Inspiration to get out and enjoy this magnificent country with my kids – can’t think of anything better!!!!

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