As with most things, my kids do better when they have a little variety; so I rotate items in our nature kit. Sometimes I even use our CamelPak for the backpack because the kids are more excited to carry it than a regular backpack. It may not carry as much but we tend to get farther and that counts for something.
Lest you think you don't need a nature exploration kit, I will offer a few suggestions. They are perfect for hiking, backyard play, camping, and last, but certainly not least, neighborhood PARKS. Learning about nature in our own neighborhoods is just as important as learning about exotic places.
In fact, Kids To Parks Day is May 21st. What better time to put a kit together then participate in one of the hundreds of events going on around the country. Kids To Parks Day is coordinated by the National Park Trust. If you sign the pledge to go to a park on May 21st on the National Park Trust's website you will be entered to win a baby carrier from Baby Bjorn. You can still sign up even if you are doing something on your own. That is what we did last year.
Buddy Bison's Yellowstone Adventure. Both are great resources for exploring our beautiful National Parks. Enter to win using Rafflecopter at the bottom of the post.
You can read my post on Buddy Bison's Yellowstone Adventure if you want more information. The National Parks Guide covers all of the National Parks in the US by region. There are Ranger Tips, wildlife information and recommendations for the best views for every National Park. My kids enjoy looking at the pictures and asking questions about wildlife.
The Perfect Nature Exploration Kit
The Essentials:Don't you think you need to spend a lot of money on any of these. If your kids are like mine they can be pretty rough on things, so I don't spend too much money so I don't feel as bad when they break it.
- Binoculars or Magnifying Glass
Spying on prairie dogs during out visit to the Wichita National Wildlife Refuge.
- Camera - I love documenting what we find on camera. I organize them by month so I can keep track of when we took them. One of my readers commented that she gives her kids an old phone to take pictures with. Brilliant!
- Bag for collecting items. We just use Ziploc bags and then hang them in their room when they are full of the kids' treasures. Before you collect any natural items make sure you are allowed to where you are exploring. Our local nature center doesn't allow us to collect plant materials.
Lots of ways to store natural materials. This day we used a toy car organizer.
- Bug Spray - Kids sized bottles always help my kids get excited about something. On one of our outings the mosquitoes were really bad and I was very thankful we had bug spray with us.
- Sun Protection - Outing are much more enjoyable when comfortable. I usually apply sun screen before we leave and bring a hat.
- Water - We have a CamelPak that I use for our Kit sometimes. The kids love carrying it and drinking out of the tube. Whatever works get them excited about staying hydrated. On the other hand, they may have to use the restroom a lot.
- First Aid Kit - I keep a larger one in my bag and let the kids carry a $1 kit I bought at Walmart.
Extras:These are fun items I rotate in and out.
- Nature Journal - We keep our nature journal in a binder so I only have to bring the pages I need. You can ready more about it on my post 6 Creative Nature Journal Entries.
- Clip Board - If you are bringing nature journal pages you will want something to write on and to keep the pages together.
- Butterfly Net - Many more specimens can be caught and examined using a net.
- Field Guides - If you don't want to buy them check your library. I live in Oklahoma and we have a very good selection of guides for kids and adults; and we aren't even an area known for the outdoors. Don't forget to enter the giveaway for the 2 National Geographic kids guides at the bottom of the post. One of our favorite field guides is the Fandex Family Field Guide: Trees. Easy to use and the kids seem to be more interested in than books.
- Creative ways to collect natural items. One of our favorite activities is making nature bracelets. After we decorated them we cut them off and hung them in the kids room. They are still there. Another creative activity is making journey sticks.
- Apps - I don't like bringing technology on our outings but I fear that if we don't find some fun ways to integrate technology with the outdoors we may loose the next generation of kids to it altogether. Just be careful that the kids realize this is a once in a while activity, not an every time one.
- Knife - We enjoy breaking up rotten logs and looking for critters inside. This is also a great time to start teaching your kids about knife safety.
- Teddy Bear - This has become a regular on our hikes. Helps to keep my son happy and calm. There is nothing wrong with bringing something extra special if you plan on being out for a while.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”