Encouraging kids to spend time outside is one of the best gifts they can receive. With that in mind, this gift guide was carefully curated to encourage kids to get outdoors. Each item is something that my own children enjoy using, or would enjoy, or it’s something they enjoyed when they were younger. My hope is to help you find a special gift that will help kids connect with nature and send them out the door and into magical world of nature.
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Gifts for Puddle Jumpers
1. Mud kitchen: Mud kitchens have become the new play house. A mud kitchen is a small outdoor play kitchen that’s made to get wet and muddy. It’s a wonderful opportunity for kids to engage in imaginative play while developing their sensory system. Now it is possible to purchase a ready made mud kitchen but can be easily made out of whatever materials you have on hand. If you do a quick internet search for “mud kitchen ideas” you’ll come across hundreds of different ideas.
2. Umbrella: Kids love playing with umbrellas. There’s something magical about being under one and watching the rain drip off the sides, especially a clear umbrella. I still remember the very first umbrella that was gifted to my oldest son many years ago.
3. Rain clothing: There’s no such thing as bad weather especially when dressed up in a good rain coat, rain pants or rain suit. I am a firm believer in good outdoors clothing for babies up to teens. The challenge, however, is that good outdoor gear can be pricey and not all families can afford well made waterproof gear. Our family is a fan of Jan & Jul Rain Gear especially the fleece lined rain hear. It’s so cozy! Oaki Rain & Trail Suit is another popular rain suit that I’ve heard lots of good things about. Another brand worth checking out is MK Nordika, they have some really great looking rain suits for kids. As for kids rain boots there lots of great brands to choose from, but my kids like Bogs.
4. Water play items: Kids don’t need much for rainy day play but a pail, shovel, containers and a few extra loose parts can go a long way. If you aren’t sure what I mean by loose parts head over to my post called Using Loose Parts for Free Play.
Gifts for Budding Artists
1. Earth-friendly art supplies: For the budding artist that enjoys art and crafts, the gift of good quality earth-friendly art supplies is very special. Not only will they create more beautiful art but the will last longer and leave minimal impact on the earth. Some earth-friendly art supplies include: LYRA colored pencils, Stockmar beeswax crayons, natural earth paints or a book for learning how to make art supplies from nature.
2. Wood whittling kit: Risky play is very important for kids, and one element of risky play is learning how to use dangerous tools like knives. Wood whittling is a great way to teach kids how to use knives safely and in a creative way. A whittling wood carving kit and a book about wood carving would make for a great gift for kids that like to create and build with their hands. My daughter was gifted this kit and book when she was nine years old and has created so many beautiful items, including a collection of wooden wands.
3. Nature journaling necessities: For kids that enjoy drawing and observing the intricacies of nature, a nature Journal, good quality colouring pencils (LYRA Pencils or Faber Castell Pencil) and a small magnifying Loupe would make a wonderful gift. You could also include a watercolour painting set and a paint brush for kids that like to paint. Older kids might also appreciate a book on the how-tos of Keeping a Nature Journal.
4. Rock painting materials: Kids are often picking up rocks and putting them into their pockets. It starts young and perhaps doesn’t truly end. What to do with all those rocks finding their way home? Kids can transform them into rock art and even participate in the Kindness Rocks Project. A rock painting book and acrylic paint pens would be a great gift for a rock artist.
Gifts for Treasure Collectors
1. Rock tumbling machine: Rocks are magical, especially rocks along beaches that have been tumbled and polished by sand and waves. A rock tumbler smooths and polishes rocks in a very similar way which makes them such a fun gift for rock collecting kids. Pair a beginners rock tumbler kit with a book about doing their very own Geology Lab at home and become a veritable rockhound.
2. Flower preserving press: Picking and preserving flowers is an age-old activity that goes back to ancient times. Pressing flowers preserves their color and shape for years to come. They can be used for art, collected or even displayed in a frame. Kids that enjoy picking and collecting flowers would enjoy a well made flower press and a specimen frame for displaying their floral treasures.
3. Geocaching official kit: Geocaching is a “real-world treasure hunt” and currently there are over 3 million geocaches worldwide! There are geocaches everywhere but to “see” them kids need access to two things: the official geocaching app and an adventurous adult to go with. Kids that enjoy searching for treasure will love this gift and it can be made extra special by gifting a geocache container to set up their very own geocache.
4. Hand-held metal detector: Kids that enjoy finding and collecting treasures will enjoy using a metal detector to discover hidden away treasure below the earth’s surface. My kids have found plenty of nail buried at our local beach (yikes!) thanks to a kids metal detector. Pair this gift with a kids’ Treasure Hunter’s Handbook and let the hunting begin!
Gifts for Nature Scientists
1. Mushroom growing kit: Mushrooms are marvelous. They’re not a plant or an animal – mushrooms are fungi! Kids can learn all about the magical world of fungi by growing edible mushrooms from a mushroom kit and reading Humongous Fungus.
2. Birding equipment: Kids are keen observers of natures. They notice all sorts of things like plants, insects, and animals. Birds are especially wonderful for kids to observe because they comes in so many different shapes and size and the fly! To better observe birds a bird feeder, binoculars and a book about watching birds would make a lovely gift for birdwatching kids.
3. Bug collecting kit: Insects are incredibly important for our planet. They pollinate plants, break down organic matter, and are an important food source for animals and humans. Kids curious about insects can become bug scientists with their very our Kids Backyard Bug Discovery Kit or Teen Backyard Bug Discovery Kit developed by Bioquip Products (an official suppliers for bug scientist). These kits have quality equipment that won’t break apart after a single use.
4. Stargazing telescope: The night sky is a story book of constellations, planets, meteor showers, and our moon. There are is so much for kids to learn and discover about the night sky. A simple and affordable telescope, like the Celestron FirstScope Telescope, along with a book such as Astronomy Activity Book for Kids: 100+ Fun Ways to Learn About Space and Stargazing (ages 5-7) or What We See in the Stars: An Illustrated Tour of the Night Sky (ages 8-12) would be an awesome gift for kids interested in space.
Gifts for Outdoor Adventurers
1. Cozy base layers: If there’s one gift that every outdoorsy kid needs it’s a good set of base layers. Base layers are made of a material that stays dry, warm and sits close to the body like a second skin. The most commonly used materials for base layers are merino wool or polypropylene and each type of material has it’s advantages and disadvantages. You can read about the pros and cons of each material here. I love merino wool, but polypropylene is much more durable, affordable and better at wicking away moisture. I tend to bounced between different fabrics based on my current budget and availability. Here in Canada, Wee Woolies is a small company that has great merino base layers that I like. Pair this gift with some toasty Smartwool merino socks and a toque for hours of outdoor play.
2. Adventure survival kit: Kids that go on outdoor adventures need to be prepared for the unexpected. Teaching kids what to do if they get lost is important but so is equipping them with a basic survival kit: a small first aid kit, survival bracelet, emergency blanket and headlamp. This would make a great gift for adventurous kids.
3. Hiking gear: Hiking is a great way for kids to get outside and the right gear can them feel comfortable and confident on the trail. Hiking gear can be on the pricey side, which is why it would make a wonderful gift for kids into outdoor adventures. A good pair of kids’ hiking boots and a comfortable hiking backpack go a long way for kids that like to hike.
4. Fishing equipment: Fishing with kids is a fun way for them to connect with nature and a special adult in their life. A simple fishing pole (for younger kids or for older kids), tackle box and possibly neoprene fishing waders would make a fisherkid happy.
Gifts for Little Gardeners
1. Worm farming: Growing worms is a thing! It’s called vermicomposting. Using worms to decompose food waste and make beautiful compost for your indoor plants and veggie garden in fascinating. You can often find individuals selling red wrigglers by the pound through your local buy and sell marketplaces, but you can also get a Worm Farm online. Here are some basic instructions for making a vermicomposting bin.
2. Plant growing kit: Growing plants is magical and filled with so many learning opportunities. Putting together a plant growing kit is simple and only requires three things: seeds, potting soil and pots. Add a book or two about gardening for kids and this would make a perfect gift for little gardeners. Some of my favourite gardening books are: Gardening Lab for Kids, Gardening for Kids and The Best-Ever Step-by-Step Kid’s First Gardening. And if you’re shopping in Canada, I would highly recommend seeds from West Coast Seeds. They’re my go-to seed supplier.
3. Gardening tools: Kids need to get dirty and what better way then by digging in the dirt. Gifting real (not plastic!) kid sized gardening tools like gloves, spade and trowel and a wheelbarrow make for a perfect gardening gift for kids, especially in the springtime or for Easter.