It is the holiday season and I like many other educators have things on my wish list that are not just for me but to be used for teaching as well! Many other educators will be doing this as well this holiday season putting things on their wish list they need or just buying the things themselves with all the sales going on as their next semester roles around. If you are looking for gift ideas for an educator or for your own list then check out my top 10 recommended items below that are great additions to help with your outdoor classrooms! Also keep in mind I do link to amazon but many of these items you could find used at a thrift store and they would work just as well as if you got them new while saving money and the environment!
Best Value First Aid Kit – $11.95
This was the best bang for buck first aid kit I found on amazon and have it on my wish list. It had everything you could reasonably need in a emergency situation when hiking with kids and for the best price. So if you are looking for a new first aid kit check this one out to see if it meets your needs. Also make sure to double check with the school nurse so that it is school approved for you to have and use! So you can always be prepared and put safety first
Small Work Gloves – $16.43
If you plan to do any kind of restoration or service learning projects this year it can’t hurt to have a set of work gloves for kids to use and even better if these are gloves that you can also use in the winter if kids forget theirs. A good plan is getting pairs donated but if you are looking for a matching set that all look the same so they are easier to keep track of then check out these at amazon. One of the nature centers I worked at had a couple pairs of similar gloves in brown and they were great and sturdy and even better you could also run them through the washing machine! Also if you want sizes for your children make sure to select cadet!
A magazine subscription is the gift that just keeps giving and these were two of my favorite magazines I would read as a kid. I got the Zoobooks while at home and Nat Geo Kids at home and school growing up. I checked the most recent editions of these out recently and they still look as good as ever. The Zoobooks are like a collection of animal encyclopedias but in magazine form with lots of beautiful pictures and graphics that are easy to understand! The National Geographic Kids magazines are 10 months a year magazine that also are rich in pictures and graphics and keeps kids updated on the world around them at a level they understand and packed with information about different sciences, environments, animals, history, countries, and cultures.
National Geographic Kids $15.00 for 1 year print subscription & $19.99 for Kindle
These are for upper elementary to middle school age students you receive 10 copies a year (They also have a Little Kids magazine for even younger readers!)
Zoobooks Subscription – $29.95 for a 1 year subscription
These are for kids ages 6 – 12 years old (They also have Zoobies, Zootles, and Zoodinos for other ages of reading I have never check these out before but if they are anything like Zoobooks they would be a great addition to your classroom!)
Field Guide Set
Reader’s Digest North American Field Guide Set ($32.99) is a great first starter set to introduce you to using field guides without getting into Sibley versus Peterson bird field guide debate. I started using and reading these in upper elementary and middle school and fell in love with the beautiful accurate drawings as well as the concise information. They were the easiest guides that I first started using with information laid out in a logical way between sections in each book as well as on each page itself.
Additionally though if you want to support a local Minnesota Wildlife Photographer and Writer check out any field guides by Stan Tekiela! They have his beautiful photography and great information in them and are very user friendly when it comes to field guides. Many of the field guides like the bird or wildflower ones he groups by color so if you saw a yellow bird you can look through all the yellow bird pages until you find the one that looks just right! He also doesn’t just have field guides specific to Minnesota he has made field guides for many different states and regions of the country as well as children’s books! I have two favorite books that he has created; 1) Feathers, showing the beauty of all different kinds of feathers from birds from around the world and 2) Mammals of Minnesota, because it is a great little field guide where he gives specific details and also shows tracks and track patterns for each animal.
When it comes to kids make sure they have a strap! Sometimes what we naturalists call a “smart string” because you are smart if you wear it around your neck like you are supposed to so the item doesn’t get broken! Growing up, in school, and at most of the nature centers I worked at I have mostly used Nikon, Bushnell, Celestron, and Eagle Optics binoculars. The Nikons and Eagle Optics were by far my favorite and then best but they also were more pricey. As a educator getting binoculars for the classroom in all honesty you are not looking for the best viewing binoculars but the sturdiest and the easiest to use at a affordable price. What a lot of bird watchers call starter binoculars or sturdy lightweight and easy to use but also toss in a backpack with not much worry of them getting damaged as long as you are also carrying something like rocks in your pack. After doing some snooping around to see what other nature centers have for compact sturdy binoculars that are more kid friendly I found Amory ($24.99) and Luxum ($19.99) to be more common. After viewing them online I added buying 1 of each to my personal naturalist stash to further review before buying a few more pairs for when I lead independent hikes.
Looking for binoculars of a little bit better quality for you or your students but not quite ready to go past the $50 or $100 benchmark to get into higher quality gear? Then check out this Bushnell ($37.78) or VISSSVI ($25.99) they are larger and heavier though so keep that in mind if you have younger students. This is the Bushnell Binoculars that I reviewed in a EcoElsa video and absolutely loved! Check out the video to find out why!
Remember all 4 of these are my recommendations for affordable sturdier binoculars to use with teaching students if you check the reviews there are the occasional lemons and these are not indestructible so if kids are too rough with them they can break. Additionally these are not super high quality optics if that is what you are looking to get check out reviews specific to that like at the audubon site here. https://www.audubon.org/gear/binocular-guide I will add this though I have a personal soft spot for Nikon ($101-181) and Eagle Optics ($129.99) so check these out as well if you are okay with going a little over $100!
Project WILD Curriculum Books – price and condition varies $8.99 -$21.50
They are for sale on Amazon but are usually used books and might be in acceptable to very good condition. I still highly recommend doing the training with Project Wild and then to get your brand new book directly from them but if you want to get a copy of the book first then you can find them here! If you are curious what the whole Project Wild curriculum is then check out this link to a video I did reviewing their brand new updated curriculum book!
Animal Tracks education Kit – $149.99
I have used I am pretty sure this exact set if not a different set that contained some of the same tracks before at two nature centers. Both centers had super glued them on to wood blocks and they were really great tools for learning about wildlife and tracking. This is my big wish list item as you can see it is a little pricey but it came in so handy for science or even for art projects making prints or casts that someday I would like to own my own to use with students or my own kids.
Still looking for that special gift for the teacher in your life? Then check out this list from Amazon to see if there is something they recommend that the Educator in your life would like!