Everything You Need to Get Started
If you like the idea of heading outside with a group of kids, but need a little help getting started, here is a list of the most essential outdoor learning tools you'll want to have on hand.
Well Fitting Backpack
Backpacks are great to keep all those outdoor learning supplies handy, but I can tell you from experience, the fit really matters! To spare you back, I recommend a backpack with a hip belt that's the right size for your height and dimensions.
Clipboards are great, especially if each child is carrying their own. But, if you're the one doing the carrying, almost any type of lightweight, 8 x 11 firm cardboard or plastic will do. For many years, I used old, stiff cardboard envelopes I got at a teacher's supply warehouse, as as light weight substitute for clipboards.
Pencils, Paper &
Pencils, paper and pencil crayons are one of the best ways to get kids to focus on whatever you're looking at outdoors are . I love watching kids gets deeply absorbed as they sketch what they see or write about their outdoor experience. Pencils and paper are light to carry and kids can share a range of pencil crayon colours between themselves.
If you know how to use a compass, you can teacher kids to use it and navigate the outdoors. Compasses are great for orienteering and scavenger hunts. If you don't know how to use a compass, have a look at this great video by REI.
Having guide books and laminated pocket guides will take your outdoor learning up a notch. You can find these guides covering a wide range of topics from trees and plants to birds, insects, mammals and rocks/minerals. Kids love pouring through these to identify whatever they're inspecting outdoors, and many guides have all kinds of neat facts about each species.
Kids love to have a record of what they've explored and learned outdoors. Using a journal helps them focus their attention and deepen their learning. You can find inexpensive notebooks online or in stores, or you can help your kids make their own nature journal out of paper, string/staples and folded sandwich bags. You can find instructions at Dragonfly Designs.
Rain can be fun to play and explore in, but you'll also need a dry place to do some activities and have a rest. You can string up a tarp for an inexpensive shelter, or you can purchase a more expensive but sturdy canopy.