10 of the best nature toys and kits for kids

From bug hunting kits to bird feeding sets, these are a brilliant way to get your kids playing and learning outdoors

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nature-kits

Nature and explorer kits are a great opportunity to see insect, bird and plant life close up, with the most fascinating butterfly kits, ant farms, bug safaris, insect houses and more. And for those who aren’t so keen on insects, we’ve included sets involving bird feeders, plants and a weather station.

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Here’s our pick of the best nature toys and bug hunting kits for kids…

1. Insect Lore Butterfly Garden, £20

Age suitability: 4 years+

A wonderful spring and summer activity, your kids can watch the entire process of a caterpillar transforming into a beautiful Painted Lady butterfly with this brilliant kit from Insect Lore.

The kit comes with 3-5 live caterpillars and you get all the caterpillar food and nutrients they need, a feeding pipette and pop-up mesh habitat where you’ll see them turn into butterflies.

The kit has garnered some great reviews, with one parent commenting, “My granddaughter loved her butterfly garden. She learned so much from caring for her caterpillars, watching them grow and change, and was so excited to release the butterflies.”

Remember the process from caterpillar to adult butterfly takes around 3 to 5 weeks, so it’s one your child needs to patiently watch over and tend to.

Available from: Amazon

2. My Living World Bug Safari, £12.99

Age suitability: 5 years+

The bug safari is an insect observation kit – perfect for garden exploring or out on a walk. The set includes bug tongs and tweezers to pick up the mini creatures as well as a field lens and magnifying pot to see them in detail.

It also comes with a handy booklet written by nature expert and TV presenter Nick Baker, which tells you how to use the tools correctly and how to observe the bugs you pick up safely.

Some customers did point out that the tools are quite small so it’s worth popping them into a bag while you’re outside to keep them all together.

Available from: Amazon and Waterstones 

3. Little Pals Bird Watching Kit, £22.95

Age suitability: 5 years+

Learn about all the different birds that visit your garden or are around your neighbourhood with this lovely bird watching kit from Little Pals.

Children can use the binoculars with the i-Spy book to find out more about the different species of birds they see and earn points for each one they spot.

If you want to attract more birds to your garden you can help your kids to build and paint their own bird feeder. Or you can even use the recipe included to help them make suet cakes to hang on the owl-shaped bird feeder already included with the kit.

Customers enjoyed the discovery aspect with one saying, “It’s a lovely little kit and my granddaughter happily spent her birthday working out how many points she had for spotting seagulls at the seaside.”

Available from: Little Pals and Amazon

4. Discovery Channel Bug Barn, £17

Age suitability: 5 years+

This bug hunting kit from Discovery Channel comes with all the tools your child needs to observe the creatures they collect up close, including a large viewing container (the bug barn) with a handle to make it easy to take out on your walks.

Customers commented on how sturdy and practical the kit felt for kids with one saying, “I really like the design of the Bug Barn and tools, the barn is around the size of heavy duty torch and looks similar too. The net is small enough for small hands, as is the magnifying glass and tweezers.”

Available from: Argos and Amazon

5. Make Your Own Insect House, £13.99

Age suitability: 3 years+

A make-it kit that enables your child to build a little home for all the bugs in your garden. The set comes flat packed with wooden slats and bamboo tubes, and once built can be put into a little corner of your garden to attract ants, ladybirds and any other mini creatures that come across it.

As one customer mentioned younger kids will probably need a hand at putting this together but older kids can have a go at following the instructions themselves. You could even decorate the house with brightly coloured paints as a special finishing touch.

Available from: Amazon and Trouva

6. Green Creativity Pressed Flower Art Kit, £12.99

Age suitability: 3 years+

Collect and press flowers and leaves that you’ve found out on your walks or even in your back garden with this lovely flower pressing kit.

As well as the press, customers also liked that the kit comes with tools to make trinket boxes, greeting cards and bookmarks with the pressed flowers so you won’t need to buy any extras for your kids to use them as part of craft projects.

Available from: Amazon and Waterstones 

7. My Living World Ant Farm, 14.99

Age suitability: 3 years+

Kids can learn all about how ants live and interact within their colonies, by watching them build a home inside this ant kit.

Watch how the ants slowly begin dig tunnels and move little mounds of sand to construct their home inside the enclosure. It also comes with a 24-page activity guide so your kids can extend their learning about these fascinating insects.

Ants aren’t included with this set but you can order them from Interplay using the form in the box or follow the instructions to find out how to collect them from your garden. Though, as one customer points out, make sure you collect ants from the same colony to avoid “an ant version of game of thrones!”.

Available from: Waterstones and Amazon

8. Kids First Wildlife Detective Kit, £15.95

Age suitability: 5 years+

For kids who are fascinated by nature, whether it’s plants, animals or insects, this wildlife kit will give them a great start in finding out more about the world around them.

It comes with 12 different activities to explore the outdoors, as well as a 20-page guidebook to take them through different experiments such as making a plaster cast of an animal footprint.

They’ll get to investigate animal habitats and behaviours, and best of all the experiments can be carried out in your garden at home.

Available from: Amazon and Crafts 4 Kids

9. Natural History Museum Weather Station, £14.99

Age suitability: 5 years+

Your child can watch how different weather conditions affect the growth of plants with this weather station set from the Natural History Museum.

This is a practical, hands-on way for your child to learn about the greenhouse effect by seeing it in action. They can use the range of measuring equipment included such as the thermometer, rain gauge and anemometer which measures wind speed to see how their plant behaves depending on the weather.

Available from: Natural History Museum and Amazon

10. Two Way Insect Viewer, £8.95

Age suitability: 3 years+

Even though this bug hunting kit doesn’t come with lots of extras, it’s offers a great way to see some mini-creatures up close for under £10.

With two magnifying lenses, one at the top and one on the side, your kids will able to study the insects they find in detail to learn about their different characteristics.

And if there aren’t any compliant insects to unearth, you can also pop in different types of plants into the viewer to study them more closely.

Available from: Rex London and Amazon

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