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10 Best Outdoor Science Tools for Kids

We love outdoor science activities & experiments

Getting to know nature and being a backyard detective are activities my kids have enjoyed for years. 

And having great science tools takes outdoor exploration to a whole new level!

It’s amazing to see the wonder and hear the questions when kids can get up close with bugs, plants, trees and even wildlife. 

So I love to have kid-sized science tools for them to use — ones that are sturdy and don’t need much supervision so kids can go off and explore on their own.


10 Awesome Outdoor Science Tools & Activities

Enjoy these 10 outstanding science tools that are perfect for the backyard, park or beach – keep them in your backpack for hikes, camping and other adventures! 

For each Science Tool, we’ve included links to Related Science Activities & Experiments so your kids will quickly be inspired to get out & explore!  You’ll also find affiliate links so you can learn more about each item along with science activities & experiments


We’ve had the Back Yard Insect Cage Bug House with Catching Tools for Little Critters for more than 8 years!  And I can’t tell you how many bugs have called it ‘home’ for a few hours. 

Caterpillars, potato bugs, jewel beetles, a few worms — I could go on and on.  We use the tweezers to let the bugs crawl on when we’re ready to get them out and send them home.  And the kids LOVE the magnifying scissors — you can catch the bugs and see their detailed bodies up close! 

(Disclaimer:  I make sure that no bugs are harmed during the using of these items 🙂

Related Activity:  Go on a Bug Hunt with this free printable!


Another well-loved and often used science tool is our Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Magnifying Glass.  It’s nice and big, easy for little hands to hold and has a very large magnifying area.

Get an up-close look at leaves, flowers and other plants in the yard.  Bugs can go right on walking as we scope them out and you can see all the details of the veggies we grow in the garden.  Kids also get a kick out of looking at each other through the glass.

Related Experiment: Dissect a Flower & Learn about Pollination


My son received a telescope like the Celestron PowerSeeker Telescope as a holiday gift one year and it’s one of those gifts that you don’t take out every day but when you do, it really leaves a BIG impression! 

Believe it or not, you can see the stars and constellations even with a kid-sized telescope.  Be careful to get one that has a steady tripod stand so your kids won’t knock it over each time they want to look through it.  And it’s also great for seeing around the neighborhood at night — we’ve watched owls and fox as they fly and roam.

Related Activity:  Look at the Stars & Make Marshmallow Constellations


A much more frequently used item is a good set of binoculars!  This is one place where if you spend a little more, you’ll get a LOT more. 

First, be sure the have a nice grip and are easy to hold.  Look for a pair that adjusts (folds out wider which most do) so they will grow with the kids.  And try to get a set with at least 8x power so they can really see up close when they find something they’d like to observe. 

The ExploreOne Binoculars are a good choice for younger kids (although the power is only at 6x).   Older kids would like the BARSKA Compact Binoculars which are easier to carry and also waterproof! 

We take ours EVERYWHERE!  When the kids were young, they would even take them in the car and to the grocery store 🙂  Other great places include the park, beach and even the zoo!

Related Activity:  Animal Observation Nature Journal {with free printable}


These are really cool!  Spy Net Night Vision Infrared Stealth Binoculars truly do let you see at night so the user can make out the animals that are lurking in the backyard. 

Or better yet, the owl that’s hooting in the tree.  Or use them during a great game of hide and seek at night. 

Related Activity:  Go on a Nighttime Scavenger Hunt {with free printable}



So we’ve covered scoping out the sky, the backyard and even nighttime adventures — the only thing left is the water! 

Spy on the fish, search for tadpoles and see what type of plantlife you can find in underwater.  A great science tool for the pond, lake or beach.  Try the Educational Insights Science Club Aquascope which also includes a fun marine biologist’s journal too!

Related Activity:  20 Activities for a Day at the Pond


A shovel!  This should probably be the first tool on the list. 


You can search for worms.  You can plant a flower.  You can dig up that huge rock in the yard that you are convinced has a fossil on the side you can’t see (no, that never happened at our house 🙂  Try the Toysmith Sand Shovel or any other that has a longer handle and a strong metal blade.

Related Activity: Plant a Garden with these 30 Garden Ideas


This is our science tool for the summer — a Mineral Test Kit for rocks, mineral and fossil identification

If you have kids who love rocks, why not give them a way to learn which type of rock they have uncovered.  The kits come with information on how to use the various pieces and usually include a rock identification card. 

Related Experiment: Explore Rocks, Fossils & Volcanoes


Not sure if your kids can tell which direction is which? 

Teach them how to use a compass like this Learning Resources Directional Compass .  This is a great tool when you head out on a walk or hike and the kids can learn more about ‘Never Eat Soggy Waffles’. 

Seriously, being able to navigate is a great life skill and will come in handy as they get older.

Related Idea:  Map Activities & Summer Reading


And a nature journal is a must have for any outdoor explorer! 

We created our own nature notebook so it could be customized to what the kids really want to study.  If you’re looking for a general nature journal, try this Nature Log Kids: A Kid’s Journal to Record Their Nature Experiences where they can share all their amazing finds!

Related Activity:  Create Your Own Nature Notebook




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