Even in the cooler weather we are aiming to spend a minimum of three hours a day outdoors. We do this by exploring our backyard, our neighbourhood, our local park and forest areas and the nature reserve. Taking learning outdoors is important and learning in situ is important. There is no better place to learn about nature, about tree and flowers, about wind and rain, than outdoors. While I am very much in favour of free play and roaming around outdoors, it's nice to have a few tools and materials for the children to use too.
Here are a few tools we use to engage our children outdoors and expand their learning opportunities. This Outdoor Learning or Forest Explorer Kit is aimed at younger children, from around two and a half to four years.
- Large Magnifying Glass - my toddler is obsessed with his magnifying glass.
- Travel Flower Press - to press flowers while out in the field. The travel flower press holds together with elastic so it's easier for the young child to use, a toddler will still need assistance.
- Small Clipboard or Note Paper - I really like to encourage writing, drawing, mark making outside, it's where nature study begins!
- Pencils or Crayons - keep them in a little travel tin or pencil case.
- Scavenger Hunt or Go Find It Cards - pictured is Go Find It Too. Perfect for a two year old+.
- Bug Catcher/Bug Viewers
- Bug Tongs and Tweezers - for picking up little treasures.
- Travel Water Colour Paint Set - be sure to add a jar for water. This one is high quality and easy to take out and about.
- Small Jars and Muslin Bags - for collecting, a small bag is good for collecting things like pinecones or conkers!
- Small White Tray - this is good for placing samples for further study, the white tray provides a good clean and clear background. Even for looking at things like worms, leaves, it's easier to see the detail with the white background.
For older children (around four years+), in addition to the above we can also consider:
- Children's Binoculars
- Field Guides and ID Charts - prepare this for the child if you know what you might see, think trees or flowers or birds you usually/often see in the area.
- Whittling Knife
- Palm Drills
- Instant Camera - or a child friendly digital camera.
- Envelope - for holding any photographs taken.
- Torch or Head Lamp
- Pond Dipping Net and Supplies
- Nature Journal
Depending on the conditions, remember to take hats, child safe sunscreen, insect repellant, snacks and water!
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