I was chatting with a gal in my Facebook Group the other day about nature study and things to bring along with you when you go. I thought it might be helpful to share with you what my nature study bring alongs would be.
Bring alongs would include such things as sketch pads, cell phone, nature books, writing instruments, magnifying glass or travel microscope, and a note pad. Let’s talk about why these things are important. This post will include affiliate links where possible.
As I wrote this post I was thinking about 10 ways you could engage in nature study summer. I was thinking about how have a go to nature study bag is vital to that. I know the summer is a bit more than half way through but pretty soon autumn will be here and that’s a SUPERB time to get out into nature. It’s so important to have a bag ready to go, meaning that on those hard to school days you can just grab up the kids and hit one of the local trails.
Why do you need a sketch pad? Because you need one!
Jotting down notes, doing a quick outline so you can remember important features of the plant/animal/insect/bird/fungi/water thingey so you can look it up when you go home.
OR to simply take time to do a detailed drawing of that interesting leaf, to do an image in relief of tree bark, leaf, etc.
A Sketch pad is an invaluable addition to your nature study book bag. I learned that for me and my lad that the smaller ones worked better for us than the big pads. We could fit two into a smaller bag making for lighter travelling. We tended to like the side bound ones but we have friends who like the top bound.
You can get good quality pads, or do the cheapies from the dollar store. whatever fits your budget. The important thing is the preservation of what you see, and the… taking of the moment to really look at what’s out there.
Do you HAVE to have a cell phone? Of course not. We did plenty of walks without the phone but I found it easiest to answer the lad’s questions immediately and I loved using the notebook feature to jot down questions I couldn’t quickly answer. Answering one question would often lead to another question, whereas taking notes and saying let’s look when we get home stifled further questions when the desire was right there!
But having a cellphone with an active data plan was great for those spontaneous questions that I didn’t always have the answer to.
My current phone is a umidigi f1 and I love it! No bloat ware, fast, does everything I want it to for the fraction of what some of the name brands cost. An excellent phone that I am so glad I got the case for as this one goes with me everywhere. It has saved my phone more than once.
Okay, honestly, we never brought along nature books. We occasionally brought nature cards along with us and a couple times “make art from things in nature” books along. Mostly though, we just grabbed pen and paper and off we went. BUT I know that some people greatly benefit from bringing along their nature books.
When we go camping I bring along these books.
- Mushrooms of Ontario (simply because I have a love of fungi)
- Field guide north American birds.
- Mammals of North America.
- Reptiles of North America (my son’s influence)
You will need something to write with. I like bringing along both pen and pencil. My preference is for pencil but they so often break that having a working pen along just helps with notetaking. The pencil though serves not only for taking notes but for making quick sketches as well. I never bring my best along with me because losing things is something TOO easy for me to do. Always bring along one extra. You’ll need it! 🙂 An eraser might be a good idea too!
Magnifying glass or travel microscope
You know those cheap little magnifying glasses you can get? They work GREAT for nature study. Looking into the cracks on trees to find small insects or spiders, getting up close to mosses, examining the spores on ferns, and just about anything else. Take the time to examine the minutae. You won’t regret it. God has provided so much variety, and yet, so many interconnections between species. It will blow your mind.
IF you want a slightly more indepth look on your nature studies… then bring along a traveling microscope. They make them in all size now it’s amazing. The first time I saw what a small hand-held microscope could do I was stunned.
You can get pocket microscopes or digital microscopes. These allow for greater clarity and closer inspection of what you are looking at. I wish I’d had one when the lad was little. The amazement we could have shared! 🙂
A note pad, scratch pad, old paper, whatever you want. Have something on which you can take a quick note, particularly if you don’t want to the waste the paper is a good quality sketch pad. Jot down those questions from your children (or even yourself) so you can look up the information later. You will never regret having spare paper along with you.
What you bring along depends on where you are going. If on a longer hike you’ll want to bring water and some sort of travel food with you. If going on QUITE a long hike, a compass, map of the area, extra clothing, an emergency blanket and a first aid kit would come in handy.
But for your average, let’s go to the park or the local small bush type hike, these are the basics of what you’ll need. I’ve learned it’s great to bring along a plastic bag for garbage you see along the way. And another bag for any not damaging to nature items you want to bring home… like a pretty rock, empty pine cone, or some deadfall leaves.
Plan to leave the world a better place than you found it right?
Have I missed anything you consider essential to doing nature study? What nature study bring alongs would you add?
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