Nature experiences for kids can be enhanced with a few simple tools. Essentially: binoculars, magnifying glasses, butterfly nets, and bug containers. My son is five and does not yet have his own pair of binoculars, but mine are small enough that he can use them. I am not so much concerned that Patrick is actually focusing and sighting neat things with them, but that he is becoming comfortable with the idea of using binoculars. He has been using an awesome magnifying glass that I bought for him at the Natural History Museum in London when I was there in 2009. The bug containers need no explanation, nor does a butterfly net.
These tools are a simple way to turn observations in nature into something more tangible. Getting up close and personal through seeing more detail and touching natural objects can have a lasting impression.
Sometimes, however, you can be out on a trail or in a park and wishing you had one of these tools but forgot to bring it. So, I generally keep these tools handy. In the summertime, I keep the bug containers, binoculars, and the magnifying glass in my backpack. The butterfly net I keep in the car. During the colder months here in Portland, P spends a lot of time exploring in our backyard, so the bug containers and magnifying glass are situated close at hand, while the binoculars are kept by my keys and the butterfly net remains in the car, because we’re more likely to use that somewhere we have to travel to get to. Again, like I said in my previous post, it is best to keep the planning to a minimum. Keeping essential exploring tools handy makes nature play a more natural part of the day. Having your tools handy is one less decision to make. Grab them and get outside!
(Also see Go Explore Nature’s post, Our Backyard Adventure Kit)
Previous: This week I am a Nature Rocks Ambassador! | Getting outside with your children should not be a tedious affair. Simply put, just get outside! | Keeping essential exploring tools handy makes nature play a more natural part of the day | Ways to extend outdoor experiences beyond outside | Nature in your neighborhood | Who explores nature for a living? Learning from naturalists and biologists | We are all connected: Chemically, ecologically, and evolutionarily