We’re pretty lucky to live in an area surrounded by lots of open space and well-maintained trails, so the kids and I take a lot of walks and do a lot of exploring. When I was researching homeschooling methods, one of the things that initially drew me to Charlotte Mason’s approach was the emphasis on outdoor time for kids and the practice of nature journaling. Even though my kids are still little and we haven’t started formal schooling yet, we’ve started working on developing habits so that they’ll be well-prepared when we do start. One of the things we’ve really enjoyed is being mindful of noticing things while we explore, and sometimes attempting to chronicle them in our “journals” or with some kind of art project. (God help us.)
So for Christmas this past year, I put together some “nature walk bags” for the kids to bring with them when we go out. Not only do they hold some tools, but they also allow the kids to take care of their own treasures they pick up along the way. (No pockets full of rocks for me- yay!) Here’s what I included:
- A compass. I mean, this isn’t typically necessary for a walk around our house, but Joey is really into trying to figure out which direction our house is in, which direction we’re facing, etc. Grace is really into clutching it to her breast like it’s her precious.
- Binoculars. I picked out some halfway decent ones that I’m hoping will last a long time. Also, because they’re fairly good quality (as opposed to kids’ versions), they’re much more functional and small enough to fit in a small bag.
- Notebooks. For drawing things we find, in theory, but the kids are still young enough that we usually do that part once we get home.
- Twig pencils. Because they’re adorable. Obviously.
- Paint set. Like the notebooks, until they’re older, these get used once we’re home. But the kids think its cool that they have special paints for their nature journals. Some nice colored pencils would be awesome, too.
- A magnifying glass. Probably the most used item in the whole shebang. We are constantly using these to check out details on rocks, moss, etc.
- A child-friendly bag. Its actually a little hard to find a bag thats rugged, child-sized, not shaped like an animal, and affordable. I wound up with ours from Amazon, and they actually work perfectly. Lots of pockets, inside and out, and they’re pretty sturdy. And cheap! It looks like the exact kind we have isn’t sold anymore, but there are a lot of similar ones available on Amazon.
There were a few things I thought might be cool, but never made it in- a small net for catching bugs and stuff, small packages of wet wipes for really messy explorations, field guides, maybe small water flasks… really, the possibilities are endless and it’s fun to pick out what you think your kids would like.
If you’re like, “Great idea, Christina, but I don’t want to do all the work of gathering all this stuff,” I HEAR you. Shortly after I ordered all this stuff, I realized that a lovely instagram friend sells these all ready to go, except with infinitely cuter hand-sewn bags and notebooks. How amazing is that?! They’re gorgeous and I kind of wish I had snatched up a few of those before I did this, even though it was pretty fun stuffing the bags full of goodies I’d picked out for the kids. So if you’re not a do-it-yourself-er, that’s a pretty amazing option, I think.
I hope it also goes without saying that none of this stuff is really necessary to have a great outdoor adventure with your kids. Just take them some place wide open (or even narrowly open, whatever the case may be) and let them GO and explore. Resist the urge to get them to pay attention to the right things, as hard as it is. They’ll find what grabs their interest and surprise you with their observations. This stuff is fun to have on hand, but the only important thing is a sense of adventure (and maybe a pair of waterproof boots.) Happy adventuring!
*Since I ended up with 7 things, I’m going to go ahead and link up with Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum for 7QT. Because I’m fun like that.*
**ALSO, all the links in here are affiliate links, which means if you click over and purchase something, I get a small amount of moolah for referring you, no additional cost on your part, obviously. Yay for helping pay some of my internet hosting fees! I’m eternally grateful!**