Do you have a nature-loving child in your family or a kid who you want to encourage outdoors more? We know from personal experience it’s tricky to pick gifts for children that have lasting appeal and which won’t end up broken by New Year!
In this post, we suggest gifts for the budding junior naturalist, many of which we have tried ourselves and we’d love to hear your suggestions too. If you have found a great gift for this age group and we’ve missed it out, please share it in the comments below so others can see. We all need a bit of gift-giving inspiration at this time of year!
Not just for bird watchers. My children use these, both the wrong and right way round (!) for all sorts of things. Modern binoculars are lightweight and easy for a child to carry round their neck or in a pocket. If something unusual appears on the horizon while out on a long walk, kids love being the one with the ‘power’ to reveal what it is. A very simple gift which with luck will be in use for years. You’re are spoiled for choice with options, but we like these colourful ergonomically designed ones which are shatter-resistant and non-slip with 8x magnification.
A simple but fun idea and a great learning resource. One of these will be making its way into my 4 year-olds Christmas stocking this year as both she and the eight-year-old love nothing more than a bug hunt in our garden. The bug viewer is a plastic pot with a magnifying lid with air holes (something my children often forget about when capturing creatures!) and a measuring grid. Best of all you can use it straight out of the box with no batteries required!
Woodland Trust Swatch Books
We discovered these a few years ago and my son now has nearly all of them amassed over various birthdays and Christmases. Not only can he now identify most of the trees we come across, but as a family, our knowledge of British flora and fauna has improved too. They are about the size of an adult hand, glossy laminated and in a swatch style fastening which makes it easy to flick between the guides. There are seven to collect and they are cheaper if you buy multiples. I’ve included the Poos & Clues one here because anyone who has ever had a child will know, they just cannot get enough of poo!
Paint Your Own Wooden Nestbox
Christmas is a great time to give them as it allows a few months for them to be fixed on the tree outside before birds begin to look for a place to raise their young. Don’t be disheartened if they don’t adopt it the first spring, sometimes it takes longer. This small paint your own kit comes with a fully assembled birdhouse and allows a child to stamp their artistic mark on something which can find a place in the garden and be a useful addition to your home.
Insect Lore Butterfly Garden
The Butterfly Garden is a right of passage for every child! If you haven’t tried one yet you really have to give it a go. You can gift the kit at Christmas and the child is able to redeem the voucher included for caterpillars from March onwards which is a lovely way of drawing out the Christmas enjoyment into the spring. Painted Lady caterpillars arrive in a tub with food and grow at an incredible rate over the coming weeks, eventually crawling to the roof of the pot to become a chrysalis and then transform into a butterfly which can be released into the wild. The whole process takes 3-5 weeks and the kit can be reused with new baby caterpillars the following year.
Original Den Kit
We reviewed the Den Kit Company’s Orginal Den Kit a couple of months ago and I was astonished by how such a relatively simple kit held so much appeal for my children. It’s been out and about with us a few times and my son took it to his after-school forest school group four weeks in a row! Don’t be too concerned about gifting it at the coldest time of the year as it can be used indoors too. There’s also a Pirate Den Kit and Cottage Den Kit both of which come in lovely hard-wearing cotton bags.
Though not strictly nature related, this is a gift that might allow pre-mobile phone children a little bit of extra freedom and confidence outdoors. Simple to operate and with a range of up to 2 miles this pair of walkie talkies are robustly made with an ergonomic design and a belt clip. Kids can also act out their own adventures with friends and enjoy the thrill of hiding! These take 4 AAA batteries and will last for 70 hours.
A recent recommendation from a friend who is mother to three children. Wild Things is published by Lonely Planet who have produced some wonderful large hardback resource books. The illustrations and photography in this book are really inspiring and it’s packed full of nature-led projects for outdoors and in, including arts and crafts. The publishers suggest this for 6-8 year-olds but there’s plenty younger kids can get involved in with a little parental assistance.