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Build your own outdoor exploration kit

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We spend a lot of time outdoors and now that my youngest is finally walking long-ish stretches, I'd like to make a bag that we can take on our adventures with us. I've tried giving each little one a small bag, but it really inhibits them from running and jumping and playing, and I don't mind carrying a backpack, so long as it's a single medium sized bag.


So what would you put in such a bag? Obvious ones for me are:


Sketch pads/Colored pencil pouch

Binoculars/magnifying glasses

A few local pocket guides (those laminated sheets that you just fold up) of birds, animals, grasses, prints

Bug spray / sunscreen / tweezers for tick removal

Rolled-up baby carrier (just in case the 2 yo decides to lose it and stop walking)



I thought about adding a few of those little water color sets because they're so small and that could be fun while we're out, but am undecided. We keep a set of spare clothes in the car so if something happens, we can just head back to the car, but I don't want to carry all that with me. There won't be a ton of space after the above mentioned already, but I'd love more ideas as I think through this idea! :)

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 i recommend that you carry some safety gear: multi function knife (good quality), metal cup,  mirror, 1st aid kit, snake bite kit, sun block, matches (waterproofed), compass, whistle,  and that fold up safety blanket ( the mylar looking one).  More stuff, the deeper you go.  Won't do you any good if it all in the car when you need it, especially if you are the wounded one.

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Bring paper and Crayolas (without paper) to do texture rubbings


Have the dc collect samples of objects from nature, then bring home and make art displays, look under a microscope, etc.


I tried bring some painting supplies, and it was great for the older dc. The younger ones had little patience. The clean up was more challenging.



Vary the contents of the kit bag. Don't bring the same stuff every time you go out. Toss in some stuff from home and see what the dc do with it. 


Don't limit nature walks to spring/summer/fall. Try going out in the winter when it seems that there is nothing living. There is still a lot of life, and it's easier to walk in the bush and examine things when there isn't as many leaves getting in the way.


Have fun!

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All great idea! Thanks! We don't usually get too wild, since my kids are 2,3,5, and 7, but they're in the habit of being outside year round and I'd like to continue and deepen that as they get older. We've never been able to take much with: just what could fit in their fanny packs (pretty much water and a tiny snack), since I was always carrying a baby on my back, but I'm excited about this new period where we can actually take some stuff with us! Our friends have been kind enough to share their stashes when my kids were jealous of all the cool stuff friends brought with them, but it'll be nice to have our own stuff now. :)

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Specimen containers--like little rubbermaid food savers.


We found some great specimen containers at the Dollar Tree. They are tiny (some are 1/2 and some are 1/4 the size of a plastic film case, if you can remember what those look like), so everyone can make lots of great little collections. 


I also like to bring a 4 foot string that I've tied into a loop. We can set it out to do a "square foot" examination. 



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