Make a Nature Study Backpack

Have you wondered how to incorporate nature study into your homeschool or to just get the most out of a hike through the woods or a trip to the beach?  We have found that keeping a bunch of nature study supplies together in a backpack that we can grab as needed helps immensely.  Here is what is in our backpack:

How to Make a Nature Study Backpack

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Notebook and/or Sketchbook  Some children like to draw what they find or write down a list of their discoveries.  My children are not these children.  I still carry a notebook with us just in case they have an epiphany some day.  I at least write down the date and place we hiked and have them narrate something to me about the hike to write down. This journal looks amazing:

Pencil Case w/Supplies Include a pencil case with at least a couple pencils and an eraser in it.  If your child would be interested in drawing specimens, then include some nice colored pencils as well.  The Prisma Colored Pencils 36 pack would make a good choice.

Field guides  We like these pocket field guides when we hike as they are not as heavy as a full book.  There are so many to choose from and many specific to a particular region.  I like to have some covering birds, butterflies, bugs, mushrooms, edible plants, trees, and weather.  The weather guide helps identify clouds, which the boys enjoy.

Binoculars  Pack a lightweight set of binoculars for studying birds and other animals.

Magnifying Glass  A magnifying glass is great for studying rocks and bugs.  This is probably the item my boys enjoy most.

Compass Honestly, if we were ever lost, I am not sure a compass would help me much!  However, it is a great way for the boys to learn cardinal and ordinal directions.  Sometimes, they just like walking with it and seeing where the needle points.

Sample Bags We bring small sandwich bags to carry home “samples”, which for the boys could be rocks, leaves, flowers, snail shells, bugs, sticks or anything else you might imagine.  If we are really on our game, we may look at them under our microscope at home.

Tape Measure  A tape measure can be used to measure the depth of a stream, the height of a flower, the diameter of a tree, etc. This is a great way to reinforce math skills in every day life.

Trail Map  So printing a trail map off the computer may seem really 2005 and it takes some extra planning, but it has saved us on numerous occasions.  There are times that we have had poor cell service during hikes and our map app became useless.  Sometimes our hikes involve three or four different trails, making the map critical.  So definitely consider printing one, but keep in mind that not all trail maps appear to be drawn by professional map makers either!

Camera We use a camera a lot while hiking to capture interesting trees, flowers, rocks, animals, and each other.  I can not imagine how many samples we would bring home if we did not have a camera!  We usually just use a camera phone, but sometimes I grab our nice DSLR.

Sunscreen/Bug Spray  Of course, if you are going to be outside for an extended period of time, you may want to pack sunscreen and bug spray.

Garbage bag/Gloves So this may seem like a strange one, but my kids can get upset about people littering and sometimes start picking it up with bare hands…..ewww.  So I try to keep a garbage bag and gloves with us when we go to any kind of park.  We usually don’t use them on the hike, but it is amazing how dirty trailheads and picnic areas can be!

Snacks/Water And of course, pack snacks and water, even if you don’t plan on being gone too long.  You never know when you might get turned around and spend much longer on your hike than planned.  Not that it is has ever happened to us!  (wink)

If there is anything else you like to bring on a nature outing, comment below!









This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Kelly

    Great write-up! Ours is similar, but I have small sketchbooks for everyone, and have added to the pencil case a pencil sharpener, watercolour pencils, and a few different paintbrushes. I still plan to add a couple of the items you mentioned, but haven’t yet. One thing we couldn’t do without, though, is a large, ugly, ex-military poncho. It is some type of sturdy fabric with a rubbery waterproof coating, and has snaps on the sides and grommets on the corners, which allows us to make it into a tent or multiple types of emergency shelters. Because we live in a damp climate, we most often spread it out and use it as either a dry place to sit and snack and sketch, or a small tarp under which we all huddle in case of a sudden downpour!

    1. Randi Smith

      I love the idea of your “ugly” poncho! 🙂 That sounds like a perfect item to include!

  2. Kelly

    Ha! Yes, I do mean ugly! But it gets the job done, and is bomb-proof, lol!, so I don’t mind. We tend to abuse our tools. I have all boys, who love using ex-military stuff, and don’t really care what it looks like. Though that may change soon, with a teen in the mix… 😉

  3. Colleen Eggers

    Hiking, mountaineering, walking in nature as a recreational activity. Especially among those with sedentary occupations, hiking is a natural exercise that promotes . Thank a lot

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