The post I wrote on gift ideas for little nature explorers during the holidays last year was a big hit. With Easter right around the corner, I thought you might enjoy a few more ideas – this time with an eye for encouraging spring outdoor fun.
As always, I’ve tried to include low-cost (less than $20) items that will set your little one’s imagination and sense of wonder free. Enjoy!
Kite flying is highly underrated. All you need is a nice breeze and a wide-open space to fly it and you’re good to go. Choose a favorite theme, color or cartoon character to inspire kids to get started (we’ve got a “Cars” decorated kite, of course).
2. Insect/butterfly net
Sure, these nets are great for catching flying insects. Even better, they’re great for skimming in creeks and streams. Imagine what discoveries await!
3. Live insect kits
Insect kits offer kids a chance to watch nature at work up close. Maybe it’s because I never played with bugs as a kid and married a complete bug lover that I am fascinated with insects as a parent. In fact, we’re going to adopt a caterpillar this weekend and watch it transform into a butterfly some time within the next month. And I just bought this ladybug kit for one of my son’s friends for about $20.
4. Sidewalk chalk
For imagining, creating, playing and being outdoors, sidewalk chalk does it all. It’s cheap, too!
5. Garden tools
Walk into the garden section of any Target these days and you’ll see kid-sized watering cans, garden tools, shovels and gloves at a fairly inexpensive price. Giving kids their own tools is a great way to make them feel part of the gardening process. I picked up a set for my sons to use in our garden this spring.
6. Kid’s fishing pole
The 5 year old has taken to turning sticks into fishing poles whenever we’re at a lake or pond. The perfect stick would be a great inspiration for a budding fisherman, as would a kid’s fishing pole. I found a “Cars” fishing pole online for less than $15.
Bubbles are cheap, portable and sure to bring a smile. We took our bubble game up a notch when my husband bought my son a hand-held bubble maker. Push a button and it shoots out tons of bubbles. Sends our youngest into a flurry of giggles.
I’m a big fan of reading books with both of my kids and am always looking for a way to bring in stories about nature and wild animals. A classic like Eric Carle’s “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” is a natural if you’re nurturing a caterpillar. Our current favorites are “Not a Stick” by Antoinette Portis and “The Busy Tree” by Jennifer Ward.
9. Head lamp
How cool is this lego headlamp for kids?
Costs less than $15 at REI and is sure to get my son excited about our backyard campout later this summer.
10. Something from nature
Easter baskets beg to be filled with treasures from nature. Look for something in your backyard to inspire your child to go exploring outside, too. It might be a few rocks to start a collection, a pinecone, some small sticks or a flower.
One more note: If you’ll be hunting for Easter eggs this holiday, replace the traditional basket with something your child can re-use, like a large pail or a pot for planting.
As always, I welcome your ideas for encouraging outdoor fun this spring and beyond. Share a comment and let me know what you’ve got planned!