To help kids get the most out of communing with nature, Lizette Castano at the Children's Nature Institute suggests packing a canvas bag with a few of simple items.
Egg carton: Paint the bottom of each compartment a different color, then challenge kids to find natural souvenirs in a matching hue.
Magnifying glass: Encourage your family to take a closer look at things and discover treasures hidden in plain view, such as the silvery veins on a leaf or tiny mites on a decaying log.
Magnets: Run a strong magnet across the soil to see if iron bits are lurking about (they'll stick to the magnet). For an even greater wow factor, bring a paper plate, top it with soil, then run a magnet underneath it to make the iron bits dance.
Water-filled spray bottle: See how a gentle spritz can change the look of things, such as spiderwebs and color-shifting rocks.
Homemade soil slides: Cut a 1/2-inch square in a notecard and cover the hole with a piece of clear tape. Press the sticky side against soil, then use a magnifying glass to discover its individual components.