The holidays are here, but do kids really need another app, game or movie as a gift?
Most likely, they need a break from TV and devices instead. According to the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, kids between the ages of 8 and 18 consume an average of seven hours and 11 minutes of screen media each day.
Take a break from screen-related presents this season by giving kids gifts that will help them connect with nature.
Nature is full of art materials. That's the idea behind Bella Luna Toys' Nature's Art Box, which has a variety of nature-themed art projects that use resources from kids' backyards, as well as string, wire and glue. Projects include using moss and cones to decorate items, making natural dyes to decorate T-shirts and learning how to dig clay and weave vines. Note: Some projects are more challenging than others.
Inspire kids to write about nature. Keepsake gratitude journal "The Happy Rosy Day Book," by Zakiyya Rosebelle, has writing prompts for kids, including nature prompts. One encourages kids to place dried flowers from an outing in the journal book and write about the experience.
Tweens can be tough to shop for, and this nature gift is geared for older kids. The Tropical Terrarium, by Faber-Castell, is a planting dish that comes with easy-to-grow polka dot plant seeds and potting mix. Kids can decorate the terrarium with a flamingo, a pineapple, succulents, stones and sand. It's modern decor for their room, as well as a hands-on way to connect with nature.
*Silly for Science
So many science kits are on the market for kids. From making super slime to creating a mini volcano to growing LED crystals to basic chemistry sets, kids can learn about science and have fun, too. Some of these projects require adult supervision.
Teach kids about science with an aquarium turned herb garden. With the AquaSprouts Garden, kids can learn about the ecosystem that exists between fish and the edible plants on top. In a process known as aquaponics, the plants use fish waste as fertilizer, which also cleans the water. The garden, which doesn't require water or filter changes, has fresh greens year-round.
*In the Can
This gift can help kids develop an organic herb garden and hone their STEM skills, too. Back to the Roots' Garden-in-a-Can indoor gardening kit uses biochar, the charred remains of organic agricultural waste, which retains water well, aerates the soil for root growth and increases nutrient retention. The kit is available in sage, dill, cilantro and basil. This type of project teaches kids about growing their own food and could inspire a lifetime of gardening.
Get kids inspired about nature with literature focused on the great outdoors.
"The Nocturnals," from Fabled Films Press, is aimed at kids ages 7 through 12 who love animals, adventure and a bit of mystery. The main characters are Tobin, a sweet pangolin, Dawn, a serious fox, and Bismark, a loudmouthed, pint-sized sugar glider.
The series of chapter books titled "Wild Tales & Garden Thrills" is all about organic gardening. The books are written for kids ages 7 to 10 and tackle the issues of plant science, healthy eating, sustainable living and environmental awareness. Kids learn garden vocabulary, get organic gardening lessons and can check out recipes, too.
Know a little bug lover? If the kids are wowed by worms, crazy for ladybugs or amazed by ants, those youngsters might like a bug catcher kit. However, squeamish moms and dads might not be so excited about it.
Most of these nature gift ideas are fairly affordable, typically costing less than $30. Plus, they don't need to be charged, and kids get a break from screen time. Best of all? These gifts activate kids' imaginations!