One of the reasons that I love nature is that it's not complicated to get started exploring nature and summer is such a fun and interesting time to get out there. What's more, the kids can do this independently and they will love it I promise you. Earlier in the week I wrote about what makes magical summer memories for the kids and encouraging the kids to get outside is one that they can create on their own, but they do need some little kit to get started. There are a couple of pieces of the kit that you may not have at home but I'm guessing the majority of everything else you probably have or you can find a variation of. We put this all into an old backpack of the kids although I am planning to make a nature kit bag for the kids this summer and make sure that it has everything in at the end of the day if it's been used.
Putting together your Nature Study Kit for Kids
1 - Bag to store everything in
As I said I'm going to be making a bag for the kids but at the moment, we use just an ordinary waterproof backpack they can put it down on the ground and no matter how wet it is the stuff inside stays dry.
2 - Camera
We don't have a big nature display at home - just a window sill and if we brought home everything that they wanted it would need to be the size of a museum instead we use a camera - first it was a camera on an old smartphone of mine and last birthday we brought the kids little point and shoot digital cameras. We take pictures of anything that we find that they want to after we get home we sort them out and then use them for our digital journalling or print to add to the nature display at home.
3 - Binoculars
This maybe one of the things that you don't have - but there are some really good kids binoculars that you can get like these ones from Learning Resources - from Amazon.com (USA) and Amazon.co.uk (UK)
4 - Sketch Pad
A sketch pad is really good - it's not just for drawing but believe me the kids will love drawing what they find but also you can add leaves, petals that you find, feathers etc.. and then encourage the children to write about what they are. If this is something that the kids enjoy and do regularly - I know mine do then I started a list for them so that they could write what they see
5 - Materials for colouring and drawing
When we started out the kids just had felt tip pens and pencils in a little bag within the nature kit but now that they are a little older we have a pencil, a watercolour palette, small bottle of water and a little pot, pencils and paint brushes. Felt tip pens are great for little kids but they are not great for nature pictures and the kids will spend much longer laying on the grass painting the things that they see than they will when colouring with felt tip pens.
6 - Magnifying Glass
Bugs are small and kids do like bugs - a magnifying glass is a perfect addition to your nature whether they use it for looking for bugs in the leaves or looking more closely at the hooks on a feather and if you get a combined tweezer and magnifying set then you cover item 7 on our essential nature kit as well. Learning resources have a great set for primary aged kids - Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk
7 - Tweezers
Kids want to pick up what they find and some things are fine to pick up but others aren't so I try and encourage my kids to use tweezers - you could use a set like the ones in the picture above or for older children a set from your nail kit will work just as well. Very young children that want to play nature explorers may find tweezers difficult so you could use a pair of kitchen tongs with them.
8 - Plastic Bags
Whether it's a trip to the beach or to the woods there is always something to collect and we never have enough pockets to collect everything in so I put some Ziplock Bags into our nature study bag and every single time I end up digging out my reusable bag from the car to carry more stuff as well.
9 - Small Plastic Box
We slip in a small plastic box - something like a resealable takeaway container than if we find something alive that the kids want to bring home like a snail or bug we can easily put it in the box bring it home and then release it in the most suitable habitat for them in our garden.
10 - Pocket Nature Guide
To help me and the kids identify what we are looking at it's always a good idea to put in a pocket nature guide - depending on where you live you will need different ones so I'm not going to make a specific recommendation but pop along to your local bookshop, have a search on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk to find the one most relevant to your area.