Not every nature walk has to be an ordeal of bags packed full of supplies. However, there are some must-have nature study supplies I’ve found us grabbing time and time again that either make our walks comfortable or fruitful. I’ve gathered those items together in a little list for you.
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Cindy’s Top Ten Nature Study Supplies
1. A sketch book
Your sketch book/nature journal/nature notebook can take any form you wish. We’ve used everything from a three-ring binder filled with notebooking paper to clipboard storage boxes. My personal favorite tends to be a spiral-bound, hard-cover notebook of artist quality paper. The hardcover keeps the pages looking nice and gives you an easy surface to write or draw on. And the artist quality paper really improves the look of your drawings.
My nature notebook Pinterest board has many other examples of perfectly acceptable nature journals.
2. Things with which to write and draw
Most of the time, our writing essentials include simply pencils, a sharpener and an eraser. There are times, however, when we cart along watercolors, oil pastels, chalk pastels, colored pencils and the like. Whether you stick with pencils or want to pack an entire set of various art media is completely up to you (or your child.)
3. Field guides
A good field guide goes a long way in enhancing the educational side of a nature walk. I have tons of field guides on the bookshelf after several years of collecting them one by one, but I started out by simply borrowing them from the library.
4. Binoculars and a magnifying glass
Magnification often helps during nature study. Whether you want to take a peek at the pollen in a flower or check out the colors of the bird high up in a tree, you’ll find yourself wishing for binoculars or a magnifying glass a lot. We usually carry both these items with us whenever we venture out.
5. Digital camera
Any kind of digital camera will do – even the camera on your smartphone – but you NEED a camera. Why? First and foremost, for the memories you’ll want to capture of your children learning with excitement. Second, because those pictures can be used in so very many at-home extension projects including research, computerized notebooking pages, print-offs for the nature journal, diagrams, and more!
6. Plastic bags and gloves
You probably aren’t surprised that I mentioned a pair of gloves on my top 10 list because you never know what kinds of creepy crawlies your child might want to hold. Or, how many thorns he’ll want to explore! Why plastic bags, though? My naturExplorers have always wanted to bring treasures home with them and plastic bags come in very handy for toting them – or muddy shoes.
7. Tape measure
One of my tops picks for a nature study “extra” is a tape measure. I don’t know how many times we’ve wanted to measure the height of a flower, figure the depth of the creek or know just how big around a giant tree really is. I like to keep a small tape measure on hand as often as possible for these moments. It’s great for noting specifics in a nature journal, too!
8. A nice bag or backpack to carry your supplies
With all this “stuff” you might (or might not) bring on your nature walk, you’ll want a sturdy bag. Don’t pack it full every time you walk out the door or the family will find nature walks to be burdensome, literally. However, a bag to cart what you need keeps it all in one place and makes your supplies much easier to carry.
9. Water, sunblock, bug spray, hat, sunglasses
Now we’re down to the absolute essentials. Always be prepared (even if you just keep these things in your car) with outdoor safety supplies. I probably should include a first aid kit, too.
10. Appropriate shoes
Even though this could easily be included with #9, I wanted to mention it separately because people often neglect the importance of appropriate shoes on nature walks. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, but you do need to make sure your children are wearing safe shoes for the destination. For example, it’s important to wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes when hiking, preferably with tall socks or long pants. If you’re just meandering around your neighborhood, flip-flops might be okay, but you wouldn’t want to wear flip-flops as you frolic through the creek because you might slip and fall, or cut your foot on a rock. See what I mean? Be prepared to be safe.
Nature Study How-To
I’ve written NaturExplorers studies on more than 20 different topics to guide you through nature study from start to finish!
You’ll love learning everything about nature study in the Ultimate Guide to Nature Study!
My Pinterest page has a bunch of nature study boards on various topics!