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10 Top Gifts for Budding Naturalists

If your child loves nature then helping them get closer to animals, bugs and plants can be a great gift idea.

great gifts for kids who love nature

1. Ant Farm

Prepare to be mesmerised by the miniature dramas of an ant colony! We bought one of these sets for our insect-mad son and soon the whole family were sat around the thing staring entranced as the ants created tunnels and burrows in the sand.

This is the set we bought and it comes with sand, you just need to moisten it first and then pour it into the tank.

You can pay for a starter colony of ants but we (of course!) went for the budget option of catching our own from the garden.

Apparently, as long as you collect them all from the same colony then they will happily co-habit in the tank. My husband was certainly kept very busy catching the blighters!

The ants are pleasingly easy to keep, requiring just a tiny (don’t over-feed them or it goes mouldy) blob of banana, apple, cucumber or similar every few days.

2. A Good animal encyclopedia

Every animal-loving kid needs a good animal encyclopedia from which to extract facts and amaze their friends.

We have quite a few in our collection from this excellent basic encyclopedia to this fantastic book ‘The Explanatorium of Nature’ which uses amazing photographs and illustrations to explain how everything in nature works.

3. Bug collecting kit

There are quite a few of these on the market containing magnifying glasses, bug collecting tools and insect guide.

This one is a really good starter kit but you might prefer to create your own, tailored to your child’s particular interests.

We’d recommend a good bug collecting kit for kids should include things like:

  • A magnifying glass – this one from Amazon is cheap but chunky enough to stand-up to being manhandled by enthusiastic wanna-be-Attenboroughs — and it comes with some tweezers too
  • A butterfly net
  • A magnifying sample jar – there’s nothing more frustrating than having a great find but not being able to see it properly and this ‘binocular box’ is a really good one. Again, affordable but robust enough for little hands
  • A good bug guide — to answer that recurring “Cool… what is it?” question!

There’s lots to choose from for that last one. Here are a few good ones we recommend:

  • Ultimate Explorer Field Guide: Insects – from National Geographic Kids
  • The Little Guide to Bugs – is a bit of bargain (£3.99) from The Book People – a chunky little hardback and, though the species covered is a little more limited it does have a satisfying checkbox to mark off the bugs as your young explorers find them.

4. Mini museum

A photo graph of a wooden display case used for a gift for nature-loving childrenMy kids especially love collecting the bits and bobs they pick up while we are out on walks – egg shells, pretty stones, feathers, shells.

To make their collection a bit more special we bought them a small wooden display case in which to place their treasured finds.

We got ours (right) from Etsy — and yes, that is a rare,  lesser-spotted plastic whale you can see.

There are some beautiful handmade pieces there from as little as a few pounds. They can be decorated, varnished or painted (these are also great for displaying Lego mini-figures).

5. Keeper for a day experience

Many zoos offer the opportunity for children to go and be a keeper for a day, allowing kids to get up close with their favourite animals and see behind the scenes at the zoo.

As an example: local to us Shepreth Wildlife Park offer experiences such as  ‘Meet the…otters/meerkats/lemurs’ from £50.

6. Adopt an animal

London Zoo offer a great scheme whereby for £25 you can adopt one of the animals for a year.

In return you get a certificate of adoption, pictures of the animal, regular email updates and pen, paper and stickers showing your animal of choice.

The good news is, you don’t pay-per-pound — you can adopt an elephant for the same price as you’d pay for a penguin.

7. Subscription to National Geographic Kids

NGK square banner 6This great magazine has tons of exciting and accessible articles for kids interested in the world around them.

An annual subscription is a great gift that keeps on giving — with renewed excitement every time a new magazine drops through the letterbox each month.

Note, the £20 subscription offer (right) is for the digital version only (ideal if your kids are glued to their tablet).

At time of writing it’s £37 for the print edition (and associated letterbox excitement) — which is still just a shade over £3 a month. Your animal-loving offspring will get stacks of value from it.


8. Sticker book

Sticker books can be a great way to engage young kids with nature and encourages them to identify creatures.

There are lots of great examples on the market but my children really liked this one from publisher DK — who make some terrific books for kids.

The Bugs Ultimate Sticker Book is a great example, packed with puzzles, games and over 500 stickers for keen collectors to get involved with (buying you hours of blissful quiet too!).

It’s widely available and prices vary so do shop around:

Bugs Ultimate Sticker Book:

9. Schleich figures

There are tons of amazing animal figures to collect in the Schleich range (check out the range available on Amazon) sure to appeal to all animal fans.

The models are really good quality so can last forever and are great for role play.

You can pretty much get any animal, insect or sea creature you can think of.

The elephant (right) is a particular favourite in our house, mostly because it’s so big and chunky (so survives ‘safari trips’ down the stairs) but also has a real air of quality in the weight and heft of the piece.

10. binoculars

A good small kid-friendly pair of binoculars is a wonderful gift for a nature-loving kid. Use them to spy birds in the garden, get a closer look at animals on a nature walk and even to look at the stars at night.

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