Do you have a child who loves the outdoors or perhaps you just want to encourage them to learn more about nature? With Christmas on the way we thought we’d do a round-up of nature-themed gifts for children. All of the following have been selected because they are items we have personal experience of. Most are ethical or responsibly made and some benefit wildlife charities. We haven’t avoided plastic entirely in our selections, but have steered clear of anything cheaply made. As always we’d love to hear your suggestions too, feel free to get in touch on our social media channels.
I used to love the selection of animal figures I had as a child, many of which are still in use today when my children visit my parent’s house, but I was disappointed by the quality when I started buying figures for my own children. Many animals were hollow and lightweight or made from cheap plastic that broke. Schleich figures are in a different league and will last for several generations. Well worth the money. This set contains five farm animals: a calf, a cat, a Border Collie, a goose and a foal
RSPB Singing Birds
You know those toys you refuse to buy your children which they never forget about and still want years later? These birds fall into that category! We first saw them in a gift shop and both my children were besotted by them. I finally gave in a few months ago and we’ve had a woodpecker and a falcon resident in our house ever since. I still hear intermittent birdsong coming from the children’s bedrooms and I’m pretty confident everyone in the family is now capable of recognising their songs in the wild. Choose from 21 bird varieties, blue tit and snowy owl are on my children’s Christmas list this year!
Such a simple gift, but one which you can add things to if you want. Perhaps include a trowel and a small watering can. It might not get an immediate reaction from the child on Christmas Day, but when spring comes they’ll love doing the grown-up task of planting seeds in the garden themselves. Vegetable seeds are a popular choice, but don’t forget flowers as they are easy to grow in a pot and can often be sown and left to their own devices. If you want seeds that they won’t have to wait months to plant consider buying a pack of microgreens and a seed tray so they can grow plants inside.
Perhaps more of a stocking filler than a main gift, but don’t underestimate the simple pleasure and wonder of using a magnifying glass. Not just for examing nature outdoors, but also for looking at things in detail inside. Most children’s magnifying glasses are plastic and the adult versions are often too heavy for small hands, but we’ve found a wooden one made by BigJigs which is both practical and made from responsibly sourced materials. For supervised play or older children, you may want to consider something like this which should last a lifetime.
TP Muddy Madness Mud Kitchen
Mud Kitchens must be one of the most popular outdoor toys for toddlers at the moment and there’s lots of good reasons why! With this model we particularly like the easy to fill water container with tap over the sink and the blackboard space for kids to draw and write on. This model also comes with accessories so requires no additional purchases. Just be prepared, this kitchen, like many toys requires time spent assembling and that’s best done before the big day to avoid disappointment!
Children’s wheelbarrows are a simple idea, but always a big hit. Not confined to doing the gardening, you’ll find children use a wheelbarrow for a number of things including taking their toys on rides. You can buy wheelbarrows cheaply, but we think it’s worth making an investment in a well designed one which will last for several children. This Bigjigs model is sold by the National Trust meaning a good cause takes a share of the profits. It has two front wheels and an easy to clean tray, so it’s stable and durable.
Go Find It
A hugely popular outdoor game for children age 3+ which is both portable and has a flexible playing time. Easy to put in your pocket when travelling or going for a walk. Comprising of 33 uniquely designed cards which can be used in any outdoor setting, urban or rural. The cards are small, but good quality with a durable finish and although the game is simple it’s engaging and can be played many times over. Children pick cards that tell them to search for things that might be “yellow”, “tiny”, “hard” or a number of other variations. The appeal of this game will lat well beyond toddlerhood and can be adapted as children get older. One to buy for lasting play opportunities.
I saw tuff trays being used at nurseries for years before I thought about buying one for us at home and it still gets played with loads. It’s a great surface for mixing mud, creating small gardens, examining mini beasts and lots of varieties of small world play. You can choose from a range of colours, buy them with legs and get paper or artificial grass inserts for them. Again the classic example of a simple toy that is so much more than the sum of its parts.