I’ve collected a list of budget-friendly gifts for kids who love nature, designed to encourage outdoor play and nature connection.
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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, I’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.
- gifts for aspiring naturalists
- gifts for adventurers and explorers
- gifts for the artistic kid who loves nature
- books for nature lovers
Gifts for Aspiring Naturalists
catch & release BugView: 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.
critter catcher: Also for catch & release, this Critter Barn also allows children to see small creatures up close without handling them. Be sure to speak to your children about the proper handling of critters and ensure that they are released in good time.
net for insect & aquatic exploration: Nets are great tools for little explorers, even if they don’t catch anything more than a blade of grass. Imagination and curiosity bloom as kids search for butterflies or tadpoles. This wood-handled net will suit any insect-chasers, amphibian-hunters or fish-finders.
pocket microscope: Little scientists will appreciate the portability of a pocket microscope, which they can bring on any adventure. This microscope has a 60x-120x magnification range, is compact and lightweight.
binoculars: The best binoculars for kids provide ample magnification (but not too much), are rugged and lightweight, and no so expensive that you won’t bring them out for casual use. Consider size, weight, durability, magnification, field of view.
Although they look like a child’s toy, these binoculars have 8x magnification and work as well as adults’ binoculars. They are also shockproof, comfortable to hold, easy to focus, and include a pouch & cloth to make your kids feel more professional.
DIY mason bee house: Hang your own mason bee house and attract pollinators to your garden. Kids can learn more about mason bees while giving them a home for laying their eggs and feeding their young. Mason bees are generally peaceful, non-stinging bees and are one of the best pollinators. (The price of this item fluctuates and some colors may be just slightly over $35.)
To learn more about mason bees and how to help them, be sure to read our post: “7 Ways Kids Can Help Save Native Bee Populations“.
butterfly kit: 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.)
ant farm: 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!
bird call: 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!
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.
big bingo: Featuring 64 species of insects from around the world, this insect bingo game is both educational and fun!
nature collection bags: These mini crossbody tote bags were designed with little nature collectors in mind. Fill these upcycled, lined, machine-washable bags with the treasures you find on your nature walk (keeping best practices in mind). Several fabric choices available, more added every week!
Gifts for Adventurers & Explorers
portable telescope: 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!
fanny pack: 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) More fanny pack options for the fashion-forward kid are a camo fanny pack that can be worn crossbody, or an inexpensive lulu(youknow) dupe.
collapsible buckets: 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!
Gifts for the Artistic Kid Who Loves Nature
flower/leaf press: 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).
nature kaleidoscope: 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!
twig pencils: 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!)
travel pencils: Take these 36 color pencils with you anywhere thanks to their (fun and) convenient canvas rolling bag. Perfect for nature journaling or spontaneous artistic inspiration.
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!
Exploring Nature Activity Book for Kids – Includes 50 creative projects designed to “spark curiosity in the outdoors” and “encourage young nature lovers to get outside and track, explore, discover, and create”.
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”.
For even more book ideas, don’t miss these lists:
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!
Other Gift Lists
For even more gift ideas, see our other helpful lists:
* May only be under $35 if on sale!