Must Have Nature Study Supplies

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.

Top 10 nature study supplies to have on hand

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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.

Canson Artist Series Mix Media Paper Pad for Wet or Dry Media, Dual Surface- Fine or Medium, Side Wire Bound, 138 Pound, 5.5 x 8.5 Inch, 30 Sheets


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.)

Prismacolor 92885T  Premier Colored Pencils, Soft Core, 36 PiecePrang Oval-16 Pan Watercolor Paint Set, 16 Assorted Colors, Refillable, Includes Brush (16000)Arteza Real Brush Pens, 24 Colors for Watercolor Painting with Flexible Nylon Brush Tips, Paint Markers for Coloring, Calligraphy and Drawing with Water Brush for Artists and Beginner PaintersSakura Cray-Pas Junior Artist Oil Pastels, Assorted Colors, Set of 50Pentel Arts Oil Pastel Set, 5/16 x 2-7/16 Inch, Assorted Colors, Set of 25


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.

Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees:  Eastern RegionPeterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, Fourth Edition (Peterson Field Guides)Birds of Kentucky Field GuideFandex Family Field Guides: Bugs


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.

Kids Binoculars,Cobiz 10x25 Outdoor Binoculars for Kids, Folding Spotting Telescope for Bird Watching, Camping and Hunting,Best Christmas Gifts for Boys,GirlsDicfeos Shatterproof 3X Magnifying Glass for Reading and Hobbies, 100mm Non-Scratch Glass Lens, Thickened Rubbery Frame, 8.4oz Lightweight, Perfect for Seniors & Kids


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!

Canon EOS Rebel T5 Digital SLR Camera Kit with EF-S 18-55mm IS II Lens


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.

Kids Gardening gloves for age 5-6, age 7-8, 2 Pairs Cotton Garden Working Gloves for girls boys, Dot & Butterfly & Ladybird Print (Medium (age 7-8), Green (ladybird+ dot))


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!

10 Foot Tape Measure for Kids - Learning Toys Tools for Kids, Kids Building Toys, Includes Angle Finder, Level, Rubber Edge and Clasp - Children STEM Toys for Kids Learning Measuring Tool (Green)Tape Measure 6 Feet (2 Meters), Metric and Inch Scale, Sturdy Mark for Easily Reading- Portable Measuring Tape by HEIKIO


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.

Venture Pal 40L Lightweight Packable Travel Hiking Backpack Daypack


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.

3 Pieces Women's Outdoor Ponytail Safari Sun Hat Foldable Mesh Wide Brim Beach Fishing Hat (red & Pink & Sky Blue)


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

NaturExplorers guides are perfect for the 1st-8th grade homeschool, co-op or classroom. This highly adaptable curriculum series uses nature study as the starting point for science lessons that reach into every other subject and meet all learning styles.

I’ve written NaturExplorers studies on more than 20 different topics to guide you through nature study from start to finish!

Ultimate Guide to Nature Study by Cindy West

You’ll love learning everything about nature study in the Ultimate Guide to Nature Study!

Cindy has tons of nature study boards!

My Pinterest page has a bunch of nature study boards on various topics!

Do you have any must-have nature study supplies?


  1. Love this! I’m going to have to print this out and keep it handy! Love all your books too! 🙂 Our recent nature study adventure involved Walking Sticks ~ there isn’t just a ton of info about them but seem to have several around here! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. Cindy I love your list of field guides. That is a great resource!

  3. Thank you! I am so passionate about nature study that I can’t help throwing at all out there. LOL

  4. Emily, I really like the Peterson First Field Guides for younger children. 🙂

  5. We haven’t done many nature study/walks although I really want to. But on my list would be hand sanitizer or at least wet rags.

  6. I agree with everything on your list. We have taken some spontaneous nature walks without all the gear and it was less than ideal. 🙂

  7. I’ve never thought of taking a tape measure…

  8. As a science teacher I might recommend vials or small containers of some kind in case you want to collect something a little wetter or slimier. I would love to get samples of pond water or creepy crawlies or fungi and look at them under the microscope later so kids can see how much there is in nature that they can’t see with their naked eyes. And maybe wax paper to collect flowers and leaves to identify later.

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