This year’s gift guide is dedicated to backyard nature fun – the items that come in handy when heading out your back door to go exploring.
While these goodies can come in handy and are fun for little ones to open during the holidays, the truth is, all you really need when it comes to exploring nature is your time and a sense of wonder.
Bicycle and/or scooter
Our neighborhood nature exploring is split between that taking place on foot and that on either a bicycle or a scooter. Whatever you purchase, make sure the equipment is matched to your child’s size and skill level. And don’t forget the helmets.
Until we were hit by the backyard bird watching bug, I couldn’t think of any reason to have binoculars handy at home. Look for kid-friendly, indestructible toy binoculars for toddlers and preschoolers; school-age kids are ready for something a little more advanced that offers a larger field of vision. Both can be found for less than $25.
These are a must-have for dreary days as well as sunny ones. Bubbles are essential for perking up reluctant explorers.
I cannot count how many different species of insect have had temporary homes in one or more of the kids’ bug containers. Since they are relatively inexpensive, we have bug containers in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Because taking pictures of nature helps kids feel like they get to keep a piece of it – or at least capture a moment. Two pieces of advice when it comes to buying a camera for kids: Don’t buy a plastic camera made just for kids (they’re awkward and the picture quality stinks) and don’t buy new.
We rely on Google to help us make an educated guess about the name of an unfamiliar species, but our field guides give us more detailed information. Our most used are guides to identifying birds, trees and insects.
An essential for nighttime walks. Look for flashlights that are easy for your child to use and carry.
We have a nice supply of magnifying glasses since the Explorers are big fans of bug hunting. The kids are partial to those with a large lens, as well as one with a glass lens that once belonged to my dad.
Got a school-aged science lover in your house? The Big Explorer loves taking a closer look at finds from the backyard using the microscope we bought him last Christmas. We opted for the Magic School Bus Microscope Lab for price (it’s less than $25) and kid-friendliness.
Tools for digging in the dirt, sand & snow
Our plastic shovels get used more than any other item in our backyard. Buckets come in handy during the summer.
We use ours in the rain and in the heat. Mostly, they just make playing in the rain more fun.
And now, even MORE gift lists for outdoor kids and families worth a look-see:
- 10 Gifts for active kids from ActiveKidsClub.com
- 10 Holiday gift ideas for little nature explorers
- 2010 Holiday gift guide for nature explorers
- 51 ideas for adventure gifts to get kids out & active from The Family Adventure Project
- Christmas gift ideas for outdoor children from Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies
- Christmas gifts for a full year of family adventure from Bring The Kids
- Christmas gifts for skiing families from Brave Ski Mom
- Christmas stocking stuffers for outdoor adventurers from Childhood 101
- DIY gifts for the outdoor family from Skedaddle
- Gift guide for adventurous adults from Adventure Tykes
- Gift ideas for outdoor families from OutsideMom.com
- Give the gift of a nature experience
- Gifts to encourage your budding scientist from OutsideMom.com
- Holiday gift guide for outdoor families from Tales of a Mountain Mama
- My top 10 gear picks for outdoor tykes from Adventure Tykes
- Nature based books, dolls and crafts from Marghanita
- Outdoor gifts for kids and families from AMC’s Great Kids, Great Outdoors
- Outdoorsy gift giving guide from nature for kids
- Top 10 Christmas treats for the nature kid from Nature Kids
Your turn – what’s your must-have items for exploring nature in your own backyard?