We do lots of nature study here at the Yankee Homestead, and are happy to recommend to you a few of our favorite guides, gear and books. Any of the items on the following list would make a great gift for your favorite pint-sized explorer.
By the way, if you love exploring nature with your kids, or you could use a few great ideas, be sure to follow my Pinterest board Nature for Kids. I pin all the best ideas there–excellent books, guides, gear, activities and more!
1. Take Along Guides
We love these guides! Find out why: Exploring Nature with Kids: Take-Along Guides.
2. Pocket Nature Guides
We love these guides, too! They’re perfect for our on-the-go explorations. Read more about them here: On-the-Go Nature Guides for Kids.
3. Young Birder’s Guide
After much research, we selected The Young Birder’s Guide to Birds of North America (Peterson Field Guides) for Older Brother (7). He has really enjoyed it, and we’re all looking forward to using it more now that the weather’s turned colder and we’re keeping our bird feeders filled.
4. Butterfly Net
We bought this Backyard Safari Mini Scoop Net at Target, but it’s also available from Amazon (click on picture above). They’ve held up very well, sustaining much abuse from my two nature-loving boys. We’ve even used the nets to catch quite a few butterflies!
5. Sturdy Magnifying Glasses
This Learning Resources Early Science Explorer’s Set includes our favorite magnifying glasses for kids. Like the butterfly net listed above, these sturdy magnifiers have endured much abuse at the hands of little boys. Older Brother and Little Brother love to bring these along on our nature walks.
6. Adventure Vest
We actually keep forgetting to wear these Backyard Safari Cargo Vests on our nature walks! The vests live in our large bin of dress-up clothes, and the boys love to put them on and pretend to be explorers in the house. The vests sport many nifty pockets, just right for stowing away special treasures.
7. Bug Boxes
Our Bug Boxes came to us secondhand, but they’re easy to find online. The boys use their boxes to contain everything from frogs and toads to caterpillars and spiders.
Recommended Activity Kit
8. Butterfly Kit
Several years ago, we enjoyed raising caterpillars and observing their metamorphosis into adult Painted Lady Butterflies. This is the kit we used, and I’d recommend it you as well: Insect Lore Butterfly Pavilion. It’s a fantastic activity for home or school–every child should experience this at least once!
Recommended Nature Biographies
This is a fantastic account of the life of John James Audubon, perfect for kids (and their parents). It’s sparked a real interest in Audubon’s amazing art work for our whole family. Since reading this book, we’ve noticed his paintings everywhere–at restaurants, museums, and all over the place.
This book is a perfect go-along for any child who enjoys exploring outdoors. We thoroughly enjoyed learning about William and his father, and how they studied and documented the natural treasures they discovered.
11. Snowflake Bentley
Mr. Bentley was “a boy who loved snow more than anything else in the world.” A 1999 Caldecott winner, Snowflake Bentley tells the fascinating story of Wilson Bentley, scientist, naturalist, photographer. With breathtaking illustrations!
So Crinkleroot isn’t a real person, but his creator Jim Arnosky sure is. Arnosky is one of our very favorite nature authors, and a very prolific one at that. We own many of his titles and read them regularly, but our hands-down favorites are the Crinkleroot books. They can be tricky to track down, since they’re no longer in print. But it’s worth the hunt!
Bonus: Seasonally-themed Books
- Favorite Children’s Books for Spring
- 11 Favorite Children’s Books about Seeds and Gardens
- More Delightful Children’s Books about Gardening
- 9 Favorite Children’s Books for Summer
- 3 More Favorite Children’s Books for Summer
- Favorite Picture Books for Fall (updated)
- More Favorite Books for Fall
- Favorite Winter Books for Children
- Our Favorite Winter Poem (The More It Snows)
- Happy Winter: this year’s favorite winter book