From the looks of next week’s forecast, spring may finally come to the Rockies! And I for one can’t wait. I’m anxious to get my boys out on some of the wonderful trails we’re lucky enough to find just minutes from our home. As I’ve been daydreaming about our warmer-weather excursions, I’ve thought a bit about some of the supplies that might enhance our romps out in nature. I’d love to hear what’s on your list!
Stefani at Blue Yonder Ranch has done some amazing things with nature journals and her post here has made me very excited to start some with my own boys. (I’m thinking of making these Marbled Paper Journals with the boys to fit the task!) I just love the way these journals help the children build connections and how it engages them in real, personally meaningful science!
Lenses for Looking
Bring along some binoculars, a magnifying glass, and/or a camera for the kiddos to use and you’ll find them looking at things in a whole new way. Even if you don’t have the most powerful, professional, or top-of-the-line you’ll find the prop alone encourages children to really look around them. As an added bonus, you get exposed to a new perspective too as you’re invited to see things as they do!
A Good Book
There’s something magical that happens when you read Lois Ehlert’s Leaf Man in a forest of fallen leaves, or Zinnia’s Flower Gardenwhile sitting in a vibrant public garden. Bring along an inspiring nature read and have a little story time in between adventures.
Kids are natural collectors. And so are scientists. If you’re exploring in an area where you’re OK’d to remove samples, bring along supplies for collecting. A little Contact paper is great for pressing and preserving flowers or leaves, or for wearing as bracelets (sticky side out) to hold found treasures as you hike. Grab a basket or bag for collections or create a Fairy Loom for the job. Maybe pack some small tools like tweezers and brushes for extracting exciting finds, paleontologist-style. Read more about how to store and display your child’s growing nature collections in this great post from Amy at Simple Kids.
I remember the first time I went for a hike with my oldest son as he bounced along in the Bjorn. Suddenly a familiar trail became new as we stopped to feel rocks, moss, and bark. Appeal to a child’s need for sensory input by taking in the different textures you find along your expedition. Rachelle from Tinker Lab wrote a great post about creating a Book of Textures as part of your outdoor experience. Check out her ideas and then go for a texture walk of your own!
Nothing at All
Ok, so maybe some sunscreen and snacks. But I do want to point out that for as much fun and enhancement as can be had with some of these extra supplies, there is most certainly a place for just being in nature, without an agenda. The important thing is just getting out there!
Read here for more on Why Our Children Need Nature.
What’s your favorite item to pack along on a nature excursion with the children you love and teach?
Top photo by Adriana Herbut.