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Don’t you love activities that entertain the kiddos right in your own yard and neighborhood? One way to do this is create your own nature explorer kit! It’s a great way to create some open ended play options.
These kits are also great to take on hikes if your kids need something to focus on besides just walking. 🤣 They’re also super easy to make, and you probably already have most of the materials you need around the house!
I highly suggest involving your kids in the creation of their nature explorer kit as it makes them more excited to use it. It’s also great to hear their ideas for what they want to use it for! I know my little guy had a blast customizing his kit and now he feels more attached to it than if I would have just done it myself.
I did end up buying a few items to really round it out on top of everything that I gathered. Because every little explorer needs a magnifying glass, and believe it or not, we actually didn’t own one!
Here’s how to get started on your very own nature explorer kit!
Step 1) Choose your vessel.
I’ve seen these made a couple of different ways. The first option is to use a backpack or canvas tote. This is ideal if you plan on using it while hiking or on the go. It’s important that it’s comfortable enough to take with you!
The second option is to make your nature explorer kit out of shoeboxes, briefcases, old lunch boxes, etc. Any sort of case would work. This option would be more suitable for plopping down in one place and exploring a smaller area like a backyard. Check out this beautiful example of an explorer kit made from a case!
Step 2) Fill up your kit!
Now this is the fun part! There are so many great options when it comes to stocking your nature explorer kit. Here are some of the ideas we had:
- Field guides
- Nature journal
- Nature printables
- Magnifying glass
- Multi-tool pocket knife
- Jars for collecting interesting items
- Bug catching kit
- Tray with compartments
- Portable microscope
- diy nature weaving board
- diy cardboard flower press
If you have any other items outside of this list for your own nature explorer kit, feel free to add them! These are just some ideas to get you started.
Step 3) Head outside.
Once you have all your items gathered up, head on out, and explore with your kids! Use your binoculars to try and spot some birds or other wildlife. Look at bugs through your magnifying glass!
Identify the plants right in your own yard with your field guides and learn what they might be useful for. (Or you might learn that you have some poisonous plants growing that need to be removed. Ask me how I know 🤣).
You might be surprised at how many interesting things there are to see right in your own backyard if you just go out and look for them! We’ve seen swallowtail caterpillars, whole bird’s eggs and nests, bats, fireflies, birds, garter snakes, and more just within our small city backyard.
Another thing we love to do is to meander around and keep an eye out for interesting nature finds. Look for unique rocks, pine cones, interesting bark, plants, berries, or flowers. Stash anything of interest that you find in your jars or collection tray!
Just make sure to keep an eye on what exactly your kids are touching and getting into. Look out for poison ivy, mushrooms, snakes, and other issues you know of in your local area.
A few more ideas:
There are so many ways to utilize your nature explorer kit! These are some things that we like to do.
- Use your field guides to identify plants as you walk. Teach your kids to respect plants!
- Draw pictures or write observations down in your nature journal. I like to ask sensory questions like what colors do you see or what sounds do you hear or what textures have you felt.
- Follow the prompts on some of my printable nature activity sheets (get below).
- Collect bugs and discuss their unique purpose in the circle of life.
- Use the magnifying glass to look around in the grass and see what you can find.
- Try to navigate to and from different areas using a compass.
- Sort and categorize your nature finds once you’re finished collecting. Talk about each item with your kids!
- Dissect items with the pocket knife (using appropriate adult supervision).
Let’s not let familiarity with our surroundings create boredom in us or our kids. I know for me, it’s far too easy to overlook the really amazing and interesting things that happen all around us every day. This nature explorer kit was a hit for my little guy and I hope you enjoy it too!
Now head outside discover things you and your kids have never noticed before!
If you liked this activity, check out my other outdoor learning ideas here.
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