We love having lots of natural resources at home to explore. My children enjoy picking up sticks, rocks, dead insects and gumnuts on nature walks. It's also really wonderful to see these things under the microscope! However, we would never take a large shell or starfish from the beach, we have failed to find a peacock feather in nature and I've never seen a geode on our wanderings. When I have really wanted to show these items to the boys I have on occasion purchased them online. Generally, they have all been low cost and well worth the effort. I'm often asked about individual materials so I've compiled a list of where we source our natural materials and where you can find some similar!
1. & 2. Sea Shells (including large Conch Shells), Abalone Shells, Sea Urchins and Star Fish at Simply Shells (Australia).
3. Butterfly, Beetle and Dragonfly specimens at Unique Butterflies (Australia).
4. & 5. Natural Blocks, Wood Discs (cookies), Gumnuts, Gumnut Caps, Seedpods at The Natural Resourcer (Australia). We have a large amount of gumnuts and seedpods and Otis loves to play with them in so many creative ways including imaginary play and weighing and measuring.
6. Feathers - The Feather Shop (UK), these are light and they are affordable to ship international. Most of our feathers still come from our nature walks and we have collected many over the years! They look so nice on display!
7. The Naturalist (Australia) - an Etsy store filled with charm and natural curiosities!
8. The Little Naturalist (US) - this is a wonderful Etsy shop but unfortunately, cannot ship to Australia.
11. Geodes and rock collections at Mad About Science (Australia), although we have found most of our rocks and minerals in store, we often find them in museums and gift shops.
We also use a wooden collection box to store and display many items from our nature collection from Mad About Science (Australia), there are a few tea boxes which look similar for storage. If you are looking for a good microscope to use with children we use and recommend the Duoscope (US) and the Celestron Infiniview (US) also at Ozscopes (Australia). Please feel free to mention your favourite sources for natural materials! Sometimes it's nice to ask relatives or friends for a nature swap, especially with those who live in a different region or climate.