Gifts for Nature-loving Grandkids

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Did you get “the talk” yet from your child? It’s when they express only zero-waste, plastic-free, fair-trade and non-toxic gifts are okay for the grandkids!

Youth today are inheriting a wounded world. And many of them know it. You may have also received a lecture from a five-year old about Nutella and how harvest of the ingredient palm oil harms orangutans.

Childhood deserves celebration. Grandparents play a crucial role to support a child to feel known, significant and experience a sense of belonging. Don’t underestimate the power and need for time with you. Give the gift of experiences with gifts ideas to build connection with the living world:

Pond or tide pool dipping: Visit a local pond, creek or intertidal zone.

Gift: Dip net (buy anywhere that sells fish aquarium supplies) and a white tub or bucket (white creates the best contrast to see critters). To identify intertidal life, I recommend the one page, laminated Marine Life of British Columbia by David S. Young. Source it from School House Supplies in downtown Victoria or Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea. I also recommend A Field Guide to Crabs of the Pacific Northwest by Gregory C. Jensen and A Field Guide to Seaweeds of the Pacific Northwest by Dr. Bridgette Clarkson.

Rockhounding: Beaches are the easiest but interesting geological formations are also found inland throughout Vancouver Island.

Gift: A Field Guide to the Identification of Pebbles by Eileen Van der Flier Keller. Produced by Harbour Publishing, this is a perfect beginner guide for the whole family! A magnifying glass also makes a great addition.

Birding or whale watching: Enjoy local backyard birding or take a trip to the park. How lucky are we that whale species like Orcas and Greys are spotted from Vancouver Island shorelines or the ferry?

Gift: Binoculars! In my experience children as young as 8 can take good care of a decent pair of binos (with help). Don’t buy a cheap toy set. They are always disappointing, quick to break and end up in the landfill.

Owl prowl: With parental permission, blow bedtime and go for a stroll at dusk. You can stick to the sidewalk along forest edges or try it on the next family camping trip. Hint: Owls are quite vocal mid-March to May. Do try it in the winter when it’s dark earlier!

Gift: LED Armband lights from Mountain Equipment Co-op. These snap on the ankle or arm and take a watch-sized battery. They offer great visibility and durability.

Snack and story: Cuddle among the trees for some quality time. Did you know swinging helps kids regulate emotions and helps them focus? They offer many developmental and therapeutic benefits, especially for kids with sensory processing disorders. It’s also fun!

Gift: Hammock’s are affordable, long lasting and easy to hang in the yard or campsite.

Gift: Tree swing! There are so many shapes, styles and price ranges. Survey the kids in the neighbourhood or notice what style is being used the most. I’m partial to the flying saucer style.

Animal tracking: After a fresh snow or rain, invite a child on a hike to search for animal sign like scrapes, rubs, tracks or scat (poop).

Gift: Choose an animal tracking book or identification guide local to your area. Did you know deer scat looks like chocolate covered raisins compared to elk which are more Hershey kisses shaped? (Binoculars and magnifying glass can come in handy on these outings.)

Carving and whittling: Doesn’t everyone try this at some point in their childhood? It’s a rite of passage.

Gift: Vegetable peeler or knife (Mora companion knife is kid-sized). Depending on their age and skill, start with a vegetable peeler. It’s a great low risk way to teach safety skills before graduating to a knife. I recommend supervision and safe storage of the gift! (Because even a vegetable peeler can remove strips from your favourite solid wood dining room chairs.) Find a carving class to take together. Or add a book about wood carving for kids.

Note: Check with a parent before any purchase. Many of these items are easily shipped if you live far away.

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