In a world filled with enticing electronic devices, I like to find gifts for children that encourage outdoor exploration and learning. From the time my kids were little, I have taken them on nature walks, playtime at the park, and any other outdoor activity. Even in winter we bundle up for brisk walks to bird watch or to play in the snow.
(This post contains some affiliate links. See my disclosure. Although I need confirmed purchases to remain an affiliate, this is an important time to support small local businesses within your community.)
I will always choose tools that will help my kids grow over toys that only provide entertainment. I’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite tools from years past, and a few items I’m considering for gift giving this year. In case my kids are snooping online, I cannot confirm or deny what is on the final list nor for whom an item might be for.
Melissa and Doug toys and outdoor exploration kits were very popular with my kids during their younger years. They spent hours in our backyard pretending they were animal rescue rangers. When they weren’t saving a favorite animal, they were hunting for bugs, closely inspecting them, and transporting them in a bug house for relocation to a new bush.
Birdwatching is a fun activity at any age. Binoculars and a field guide are great items to get started. My daughter loves to keep track of birds she sees in a nature journal.
While learning how to attract birds to our yard, my kids have enjoyed building birdhouses and feeders. Kits can be purchased, or create a DIY gift by precutting pieces for a nesting box for a child to assemble. We’ve used nesting box plans from NestWatch.
My kids have always enjoyed taking pictures, and I learned quickly that an inexpensive digital camera does not hold up well outdoors. Especially if it’s forgotten outside and it rains or a sprinkler is turned on. (true story) Years ago we purchased a Nikon Coolpix, and it was the best investment. My kids have used it on nature hikes, to capture lego creations, and we have the most photographed cat ever. I was amazed at some underwater pictures they took when visiting family.
One of my boys enjoys photography so much he’s taken a course. He often borrows my Canon Rebel which is great for older kids. My son has hinted he’d really a new Nikon of his own. As it’s a much more expensive item, I’ve hinted he really needs to get a job.
As my kids are getting older they continue to enjoy outdoor activities and discoveries. There are a lot of fun tools to help them become lifelong explorers. That’s a lot more exciting than staring at a computer screen all day!