We’ve collected a list of budget-friendly gifts for kids who love nature, designed to encourage outdoor play and nature connection.
Whether for holidays or birthdays or just-because-I-love-you days, we’re often in search of good gift ideas. For those of you with kids who love nature, we’ve put together a list of gifts (under $35!) that will help inspire your kids’ creativity, inspiration, and sense of adventure, while encouraging outdoor play and connection with nature.
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GIFTS FOR ASPIRING NATURALISTS
Your budding birdwatcher can use this bird call to make a variety of sounds similar to wild birds. The call is designed to attract other birds, making them think that there are other birds in the area. The actual effectiveness is unclear, but helping your kids feel at one with nature is always valuable!
CATCH AND RELEASE BEACH AQUARIUM KIT
This catch and release beach aquarium kit “promotes curiosity and learning, …encourages good stewardship of nature… teaches and promotes respect of studying and returning catches to natural habitat”. Bring it to the beach, to the creek, to the lake, to the river and study the aquatic wildlife up close before releasing it safely to its natural habitat.
CATCH AND RELEASE BUGVIEW
Another great catch and release tool! The Carson BugView uses a “trapdoor” to catch insects, allowing children to see them up close — and even bigger — with the integrated magnifier. Once they’ve finished examining the insect, they can gently release it with the touch of a button.
DIY MASON BEE HOUSE
Make your own mason bee house and attract pollinators to your garden with this DIY kit. Kids can learn more about mason bees while building this craft, giving the bees a home for them to lay their eggs and feed their young. Mason bees are generally peaceful, non-stinging bees and are one of the best pollinators.
OWL PELLET KIT
Aspiring scientists can learn more about owls and their prey with this owl pellet explorer kit. A guide helps them learn to dissect the pellet and identify prey remains. A unique gift!
Learn about — and observe first-hand — the life cycle of a butterfly with this butterfly garden. This kit includes a voucher to be redeemed for 5 baby caterpillars + food. (Just pay shipping & handling.)
An ant farm is a great way for kids to observe ants and learn more about their habits. As they would with a pet, children need to feed and water the ants to help them thrive, helping instill in them a sense of responsibility. This STEM activity allows the to learning more about the structure and activities of an ant colony, something which is usually out of sight.
This ant farm is a traditional design (using sand), but it also includes the potential to grow the colony by connecting it to additional farms (using connector tubes). It also includes a voucher to send away for free live ants (just pay shipping and handling). Another great STEM activity!
TREE MEMORY GAME
This memory game has the added bonus of matching leaves to trees. It features species from around the world and also includes interesting facts about the trees.
Featuring 64 species of insects from around the world, this insect bingo game is both educational and fun!
POCKET NATURALIST GUIDES
To learn more about the trees around you, try this pocket guide featuring 140 different North American species. It’s a perfect size to slip into your backpack and take with you on your next adventure. This series also includes guides for animal tracks, mushrooms, foraging, bees and other pollinators, as well as some location-specific guides.
GIFTS FOR ADVENTURERS / EXPLORERS
Victorinox is well recognized for their ‘swiss army knives’, with a history of quality. This pocket knife* is a great entry point for kids, with 8 main functions: key ring, toothpick, tweezers, large blade with rounded tip, nail file, nail cleaner, Phillips screwdriver 1/2, wood saw. Kids may not need/use each and every feature, but they will love having so many options! It’s a great tool to bring hiking or camping.
For a bladeless multitool, consider this Leatherman (also with 8 main features). It includes scissors, needlenose pliers, regular pliers, wire cutters, a flat-head screwdriver, a phillips-head screwdriver, tweezers, a nail file, and a carabiner/bottle opener.
Made of sustainable bamboo, this portable telescope has 8x magnification and allows kids to get a closer look at nature and wildlife. For the budding naturalist, birdwatcher… or spy!
Bring back the 80s with a stylish child-sized fanny pack. Use it to store supplies for your adventure, or to hold the treasures they find along the way! (several colors/designs available)
A whistle is both an survival tool and an opportunity to practice restraint! (Not to be used in the house, only outdoors in case of an emergency!)
These collapsible silicone buckets are space-saving and portable — great for beach adventures, collecting nature’s loose parts or backyard mud play. This 2-pack is great for sharing!
Use these lengths of paracord to practice your knots, build a shelter or make a craft.
This set of explorer toys includes a small magnifying glass / hand lens and whistle made of bamboo. The whistle is not meant for survival, but for gently alerting friends about new discoveries. The lens’s 4x magnification allows for a close-up look of nature — insects, leaves, bark, and other small details.
GIFTS FOR THE ARTISTIC KID WHO LOVES NATURE
Pressing and drying flowers and leaves is a great way to help preserve them. Designed with kids in mind, this flower press is small but easy to use, even for young children. For larger leaves and flowers, consider this press, which utilizes velcro to maintain pressure (easier than wing nuts used in other designs).
Encourage your kids to learn about light and view nature’s treasures in a whole new way. Although this build-your-own kaleidoscope kit comes with plastic beads to view, you can fill it with anything you’d like. Wouldn’t it be fun to use treasures your kids have found in outdoors? Pebbles, pine needs, baby pinecones, feathers, seaglass, dried flowers — there are so many options. It’s great STEM activity!
SUN ART PAPER
Use the power of the sun to create a beautiful art piece with this sun art paper kit. All you need is this special light-sensitive paper, sunshine and water!
These twig pencils are a great addition to any gift. (And perhaps a good opportunity to practice whittling skills, once they need to be sharpened!)
BOOKS FOR NATURE LOVERS
Bonkers about Beetles – This book contains a treasure-trove of information about beetles, including the fact that they make up 25% of all animals on the planet!
Curiositree: Natural World: A Visual Compendium of Wonders from Nature – Full of information about the natural world and the animals that live in it, this book helps children “discover the interconnectedness of the natural world and learn why living things look and behave the way they do”. Its jacket also unfolds to a huge bird poster!
Audubon Birding Adventures for Kids – includes a beginners’ field guide, easy-to-do activities, games, and more.
Survivor Kid: A Practical Guide to Wilderness Survival – teaches kids the survival skills they need if they ever find themselves lost or in a dangerous situation in the wild. It includes information on building shelters and fires, signaling for help, finding water and food, dealing with dangerous animals, learning how to navigate, and avoiding injuries in the wilderness.
The Organic Artist for Kids: A DIY Guide to Making Your Own Eco-Friendly Art Supplies from Nature – “In addition to offering a wide variety of fun, collaborative projects using nature as a source for art supplies and inspiration, this book also introduces the concepts of awareness and perception that are fundamental to the creative process.”
Moon: A Peek-Through Picture Book – shows the moon’s different phases and the creatures it shines down on in habitats around the world.
Bird Watching Book for Kids: A Journal to Observe and Record Your Birding Adventures – This birding journal helps kids to identify different species and keep track of which ones they see.
The Bee Book – Learn about bees, their roles in our world, their decline, and ways people can help.
Backpack Explorer: On the Nature Trail: What Will You Find? – This field guide (for kids 4-8) includes seek-and-find lists, on-the-trail art projects and discovery games. It’s designed to get kids engaged in learning about nature and also includes a pull-out magnifying glass.
I Love Dirt!: 52 Activities to Help You and Your Kids Discover the Wonders of Nature – The activities in this book are each “meant to promote exploration, stimulate imagination, and heighten a child’s sense of wonder”.
These budget-friendly gifts for kids who love nature are chosen for their potential to encourage outdoor play and nature connection, perfect for the outdoorsy kid… or for the one you’re trying to coax outdoors. Happy adventures to all!
For even more gift ideas, see our list of non-toy gifts for kids who love the outdoors.
* May only be under $35 if on sale!