Saturday, August 1, 2009

Nature Bag

I am so excited to tell you about Nature Bag ($39.95 CAD/ ~$37.00 U.S.), an eco-friendly, treasure trove of outdoor activities designed to help children learn about nature.

Nature Bag is the creation of Silvie and Katharine, two Vancouver moms who between them have 4 children, 10 years of teaching experience, a Masters in Environmental Education and an International Business degree. They suggest you take Nature Bag whenever you venture outdoors. We keep it hanging on the front door knob.

The sturdy organic cotton, fair-trade bag contains a rubberwood magnifying glass (Linnea loved this!), soy-based crayons, a recycled pencil, a recycled notebook, an organic cotton blindfold, two leaf viewers, 8 color cards, hemp twine and a booklet containing activities appropriate for every season. All the paper products are made from 100% post-consumer waste, and the pencil used to be blue jeans!

Why am I so excited? As a scientist, I think that getting kids out in nature, observing and appreciating, is the best way to build an early interest in learning about the world we live in. That is what science is all about -- getting interested, making observations and trying to explain them. I think it is especially important now, because kids that care about nature will grow up to care about protecting it. The Nature Bag is awesome because everything is included - even the ideas. Parents who have no idea where to start can easily lead their kids on these early adventures.

With Nature Bag, kids can learn about nature without causing harm. The activities are appropriate for children between the ages of 3 and 12 and can be used in the city, or in the country, or anywhere in between. They can be used over and over and will change with the seasons and as the child gets older and can understand more.

We've had the summer of bad weather, so on one of our rare sunny days, we took the Nature Bag outside. Nature Bag can be used in many types of weather, but my camera doesn't do as well.

But first, Linnea checked out the magnifying glass.

When we got outside, we used the leaf viewer to look at maple leaves up close. Then we compared them with linden tree leaves and apple leaves. The shapes and sizes and even the greens are different, but so are the patterns of the veins.

Here's Arielle holding her leaf up to the light.

Linnea tries.

Then we blindfolded Arielle and took her to a tree. "Is it fat or thin? Rough or smooth? Are the leaves high or low? Can you find moss? How does it smell? Which tree do you think it is?"

"Hmmm.... maple tree?" Good guess, most of our trees are maple. "Which one?"

Then Linnea tried. We fooled her by visiting a tree that had fallen during a winter storm.

Arielle drew a maple leaf that she found on the ground.

The absolute favorite activity was the color cards. The girls gathered objects that remind them of summer and made a nature collage. This obviously will change with the seasons.

Our beautiful results!

And, there are so many more activities to try. Nature Bag is a nice addition to a family camping trip, a picnic, or to a home school curriculum. While it would also make a great gift for the kid that wants to be a scientist or explorer in the future, it might also be nice for the child that is a little reluctant about the outdoors.

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