There are many types of animal guides. We have a lovely little guide from Tava! My son loves to look at the pictures and he enjoys having them in his backpack to take out on our hikes!
A good backpack is a great gift idea for any child. My son loves to carry his backpack because then I allow him to take “toys” with him on our hikes. This usually includes his animal guide, travel guides, camera, notebook, magnifying glass, berry book, or shovel. He also loves that he can carry his own snacks and water bottle in his backpack and get them out whenever he pleases!
3. Bait Net
What kid doesn’t like to scoop things out of the water? My son has caught water critters, seaweed, and lots of rocks with his bait net! In addition, he can use the net while fishing! It’s easy to slip his bait net into the backpack and carry it whoever we want to go!
4. Berry Book
I had only gone berry picking at you-pick farms prior to moving to Alaska. Now I can identify high and low bush cranberries, watermelon berries, wild strawberries, wild raspberries, salmon berries, as well as high and low bush blueberries! My son is beginning to learn to identify berries as well. Though it is still a firm rule that he has to check with me before eating anything. Everyone I have talked to recommends the same berry book: Alaska’s Wild Berries: And Berry-like Fruit by Verna A Pratt and Frank G. Pratt. However, this may not be the best book for you if you don’t live in Alaska.
Every child needs a bike! Whether you pick a tricycle, big-wheel, balance bike, or “big-kid” bike, you can’t go wrong with this gift!
My son loves to look through binoculars, even though I’m not sure he actually sees what he is searching for. Either way, he thinks its great fun! There is so much kids can do with binoculars: marine watching, hunting, exploring, bird watching, hiking, etc.
There are sooooo many amazing children’s book about the outdoors or animals. Here is a great list of children’s picture books about nature: Run Wild My Child Nature Books List.
There are many options when it comes to bubbles, and children LOVE bubbles. Bubble machines, bubble kits, bubble guns, giant bubble makers, and don’t’ forget your regular old bubble wands.
This may seen super simple. However, there are so many uses for a good sturdy bucket. My son makes mud food in his bucket. He collects leaves and sticks. We use our bucket for berry picking and rock collecting. Buckets are great for holding other outdoor toys such as shovels and scoops. I could go on and on.
Children seem to LOVE having CamelBaks. I get the impression it has something to do with being in control of their own water source and being able to drink from it whenever they get the whim. It may also have to do with the fact that some have found out how to use the CamelBaks as a sort of squirt gun.
We have a great little waterproof children’s camera. My son loves to take photos with it and then show them to me later! The other children we hike with always want to borrow the camera to take photos of their own.
12. Catch and Release Aquarium
I saw this catch and release aquarium over the summer for the first time and I knew we HAD to have one. It is amazing. The children caught an eel and some sea anemones and could observe them in the aquarium before releasing them again to the ocean. Little hands can often be a bit too harsh on wildlife, but this is a great way to keep the animals safe while children examine them.
My son LOVES chalk right now. He loves that he can draw giant pictures all over the driveway in the front yard with it. I hope to get him a chalkboard for the backyard next summer!
For older kids this is a great learning tool. For young kids, like my son they just find a compass fun to play with.
15. Critter Carrier
In true boy fashion, my son loves bugs. I DO NOT allow bugs to be brought into my house. However, I am fine with him housing them in a critter carrier for a short time, especially if that carrier keeps the bugs from being put directly into my hands.
16. Digging Tools
My child is a digger. It doesn’t matter if it is gravel, dirt, sand, snow, mud, etc. He will dig and pour and move piles of things around. He LOVES it. We have multiple child sized shovels, trowels, cups, etc.
17. Field Guide
My son loves to look at field guides and they are great to put in his hiking backpack. We have some beautiful ones covering Alaskan wildlife.
18. Fishing Pole
If you are going to go fishing with your kids, they have to have a fishing pole! I still remember my Snoopy fishing pole from when I was little. I caught fish so fast with that thing that my dad didn’t have any time to catch any himself!
I’ve never met a kid that didn’t like a flashlight. They normally don’t use them for their intended purpose, but they are still great fun. In addition, you can’t play flashlight tag without one!
20. Go Find It
This is a great little scavenger hunt game! It could technically be played indoors or out. If you are looking for motivation to keep your child going while out on a hike, this game could be a fun option!
The ultimate outdoor relaxation stop! It can be used indoors as well as out, and during any season. I addition, there are now many that can be packed up and take with you anywhere!
I can’t wait to go on some night hikes this year! My son LOVES his headlamp. With the daylight so short during the winter in our area, headlamps are great for 5pm pitch black walks!
A great way to get your child to run off energy is to provide them with a kite! My son is always eager to take one out.
24. Kinetic Dirt
My son loves snow. However, he tends to get a bit sad when winter arrives because he can no longer dig in the dirt. Last winter we found that Cabelas sells buckets of Kinetic Dirt. It is essentially the same as Kinetic Sand, just brown. We put it in one of those flat containers and slide it under Jasper’s bed when it isn’t being used. He digs in it, plays with monster trucks, buries toys, creates structures, etc.
My son often carries his lantern about the house. He looks at books with it, goes on walks with it, plays in his closet with on the lantern light, whatever he can think of!
26. Lawn Chair
My son constantly wants his own chair for outside like mommy and daddy. He would be ecstatic if we got him that was his own size! Many locations offer kid-sized lawn chairs.
27. Magnifying Glass
My son loves to look at everything with his magnifying glass. He looks at his books with it. He puts it in his hiking bag to check out whatever he wants when we are hiking. He carriers it about the house, tripping over his feet while staring at random items through his magnifying glass.
I have been working with my son and he can currently identify around 20 US States. We have been looking at maps for years with him. It is a great learning tool and a great resource to known how to use in this day of digital directions.
29. Mesh Tote
For children who like to take dirty or sandy treasures hold with them, these are great! I love that a good deal of the sand can fall off the items before they make their way into my car! Plus, you can run the bags under water to remove even more debris. With a child who seems to be made of dirt, options that offer easy cleaning are always a plus!
30. Mud Kitchen
The first time I heard about a mud kitchen I knew my son needed one. My husband nailed a few boards together and I gave my son our old spaghetti pot and some dollar kitchen utensils. He loves to make mud cakes, mud pies, mud doughnuts, mud soup, etc. To my disgust he likes to taste his creations and he gets upset when I only pretend to taste them.
31. Pocket Knife
My son is too young for a pocket knife. However, his grandmother has already sent us my husband’s old pocket knife. I know my son will enjoy his profusely once we deem him old enough.
32. Puddle Boots
A good pair of puddle boots is a game changer with playing outside! Our favorite rain boots have waders on them for extra protection.
33. Rain Suit
It wasn’t until we moved to Alaska that I was introduced to a rain suit. Other moms and I have jokes that Oaki rain suits seem to be the unofficial uniform for Alaskan children. I love rain suits. If you have a child who enjoys playing in the mud, I highly suggest one!
Over the summer my son and a friend of his followed another hiker’s RC Jeep in circles around the top of the Bodenburg Butte. After watching this I felt that I could probably get my child to hike anywhere as long as he was following an RC vehicle. My son will be getting one from his grandparents for Christmas. I can’t wait to try it out while hiking once the snow melts!
Rock painting seems to be all the craze these days (at least in our area)! My son loves to find rocks and he loves to paint them as well. We follow multiple Facebook pages for painted rocks in our area.
36. Rock Tumbler
If you have ever had to clean rocks out of the bottom of your washer machine than you may be the mother of a rock lover. My son loves to collect rocks. It doesn’t matter to him what they look like. A rock tumbler is a great way to expand rock exploration with your little geologist.
37 . Sandbox
Again, my kid is a digger. He could dig in his sandbox all day long. I am the damper to his joy by reminding him that I will only replenish his sand once a year and he should probably try to keep it his box.
My son has had a scooter since his second birthday. He enjoys riding it very much. He likes to go zooming down the little incline on our driveway (and finds it hilarious to crash into the garage).
39. Sketch Book and Pencils
My son saw another child with a sketch book on a hike once. Instantly it was all he wanted. He very much enjoys busting out his sketch book and drawing pictures whenever he wants, or “writing” importation notes.
We are hoping to take my son skiing for real for the first time this year. For the past two years he has simply trudged around our greenbelt and slid down the little hill on our street. Even though he hasn’t “truly” been skiing, he does seem to enjoy sliding around our neighborhood.
Every child who lives in a snowy area needs a sled! We have four! In addition, if you live close to sand dunes you should also invest in a saucer sled. Sand dunes are a great place to go sledding!
This may seem a bit random, but I promise you, a good wooden spoon will change your child’s life! Spoons are great digging tools. They let child scoop up things that may not want to touch. They provide a great surface to place insects for further inspection. Spoons can be used as tools to knocks things off of trees. The list goes on and on! Seriously, get your child a good wooden spoon!
My son likes to wear his sunglasses so that he can look like his daddy. However, I have found them less useful for keeping the sun out of his eyes and more useful for keeping sand out of them. We have small patches of sand in our area. However, the largest area of sand is Anchorages (singular) sand dune. It often seems to be quite windy at the sand dune. My son’s sunglasses are a great way to prevent sand from getting into his eyes.
44. The Idea Box (Backyard Box)
If your kids can’t figure out what to do once they get outside, The Backyard Box from The Idea Box is your answer! Your child simply chooses a coin from the box and off they go! This box is recommended for ages 3-10 and provides 60 backyard activity ideas!
Do any kids like putting on sunscreen? With a sunhat that provides UV protection, you won’t have to worry about that sunscreen so much! People tend to think of Alaska as cold. However, due to the angle of the sun up here, we get a ton of direct sunlight during the summer, which means fewer shadows. My children almost never go out without a sunhat during the summer.
Tweezers are a great way to develop fine motor skills in small children. Tweezers provide a fun, new way for children to investigate objects. In addition, if your child doesn’t like the textures of some of the more questionable outdoor objects, tweezers are a great way to work around that!
Wagons are great for little ones! My son loves to push and pull his wagon around. In addition, wagons are a great way to haul all the junk that comes along with children when you are going on outdoor adventures.
48. Water Bottle
My son has collected a ton of children’s water bottles over the past four years. However, recently he has been asking for a hard sided water bottle (like I have). He really wants it because he wants to put sticks on it. Either way, I am excited that he is excited about his own outdoor gear!
Before moving to Alaska, I didn’t know that true waterproof gear existed. I thought you either had to wear wet mittens, or freeze with no protection on. However, Jan and Jul waterproof mittens are my favorite item! Fall in Alaska lasts about a week. Then we have this lovely period of time where there is snow, but also rain. The snow sticks around, however there are puddles everywhere too. In the Spring, Alaska goes through what is referred to as Breakup. Both of these seasons require waterproof gear, and I am so thankful that we found Jan and Jul waterproof mittens.
Once again I am stating that my child loves to dig. A wheelbarrow is kind of a give in when it comes to digging. However, did you know they make them in children’s sizes! My son was ecstatic when his grandmother purchased him his own wheelbarrow to help her while gardening.