Nature Play

collage of children's nature book covers

Spring is a great time for reconnecting with nature. This list features a variety of books with practical ideas that will help children understand and appreciate nature. Included are books on forest schools, bushcraft, seasonal celebrations and ecology. In addition to these books, CBRL offers Nature Backpacks in six themes.

Wilderness Adventure Camp
  • Wilderness Adventure Camp Essential Outdoor Survival Skills for Kids by Grindrod, Frank. Led by outdoor leader Frank Grindrod of Earthwork Programs, every turn of the page takes kids on another stage of the journey. They learn how to pack for the outdoors, navigate using a map and a compass, choose and set up a campsite, handle and use a knife properly, build a fire, tie different types of knots, make a lean-to out of sticks and leaves, and cook over an open fire. — From the publisher
Wild Days
  • Wild Days Outdoor Play for Young Adventurers by Irvine, Richard. This book is divided into three sections Making, Games, and Exploring. Making is the largest section and features many arts and crafts ideas in addition to basic bushcraft skills (e.g. fire building and shelter making) . Lots of great ideas here for nature schools and families.
Wild + Free Nature
  • Wild + Free Nature 25 Outdoor Adventures for Kids to Explore, Discover, and Awaken Their Curiosity by Arment, Ainsley Ainsley Arment is a homeschool educator whose wild+free book series and site are enormously popular. This book is filled with enticing photos of inspirational crafts and hands on activities that encourage the whole family to make the most of the great outdoors.
Grow Wild
  • Grow Wild The Whole-child, Whole-family, Nature-rich Guide to Moving More by Bowman, Katy. Katy Bowman is an advocate for movement rich lifestyle and in Grow Wild, she explores various ways to encourage our children to move more. She discusses nature school and has many great suggestions on how to fit more nature and more movement in our daily lives.
Nature Play Workshop for Families
The Children's Forest
  • The Children’s Forest Stories & Songs, Wild Food, Crafts & Celebrations All Year Round by Casey, Dawn. Stories, songs, crafts, recipes, and celebrations to mark the seasons. A great book for forest school teachers, Waldorf educators, and homeschooling families.
Nature Play at Home

Nature Play at Home Creating Outdoor Spaces That Connect Children With the Natural World by Striniste, Nancy
Ideas for how to bring nature play into your own backyard or local park and trails. Includes suggestions for how to make your yard more inspiring and enticing for children to want to play in it.

Forest School Adventure

Forest School Adventure Outdoor Skills and Play for Children by Walmsley, Naomi
Includes photos and instructions for a variety of crafts, skills, and games including traditional skills such as fire building, cooking over the fire, and shelter making.

The Young Adventurer's Guide to (almost) Everything

The Young Adventurer’s Guide to (almost) Everything Build A Fort, Camp Like A Champ, Poop in the Woods–45 Action-packed Outdoor Activities by Hewitt, Ben
This handbook for curious kids will empower them to explore the natural world and even the comfort of their own backyard through a new set of skills. — From the publisher.

Put on your Owl Eyes

Put on your Owl Eyes Open your Senses & Discover Nature’s Secrets : Mapping, Tracking & Journaling Activities by Franklin, Devin
Any nature loving self-directed child can pick up this book and get ideas for how to observe nature in their own backyard.

Forest Craft

Forest Craft A Child’s Guide to Whittling in the Woodland by Irvine, Richard
This book is all about whittling and and carving. It is by the same author as Wild Days listed above.

Play the Forest School Way

Play the Forest School Way Woodland Games, Crafts and Skills for Adventurous Kids by Houghton, Peter

A Year of Forest School

A Year of Forest School Outdoor Play and Skill-building Fun for Every Season by Worroll, Jane

101 Things for Kids to Do Outside

101 Things for Kids to Do Outside by Isaac, Dawn
Don’t let the cover fool you. This book is full of colour photos and a wide range of activity ideas. It is less nature focused than other books on this list and more focused on backyard fun and games and gardening. Highlights include: create a moonlight garden, a solar oven, and rhymes for skipping games (because most adults have forgot all the rhymes they used to know!)

Last Child in the Woods

Last Child in the Woods Saving Our Children From Nature-deficit Disorder by Louv, Richard
Richard Louv popularized the idea of nature-deficit disorder and in this pioneering work he examines the many reasons why children need more nature.

Vitamin N

Vitamin N The Essential Guide to A Nature-rich Life by Louv, Richard
Building on the themes of Last Child in the Woods, Louv lists over 500 offers practical suggestions for how families can add more nature into their lives.

The Big Book of Nature Activities

The Big Book of Nature Activities A Year-round Guide to Outdoor Learning by Rodenburg, Jacob

A Little Bit of Dirt

A Little Bit of Dirt 55+ Science and Art Activities to Reconnect Children With Nature by Citro, Asia

The Kids' Winter Fun Book

The Kids’ Winter Fun Book Homespun Adventures for Family Fun by Gillman, Claire. Use the “save for later” feature in the Same Page catalogue to save this one for next winter!

Balanced and Barefoot

Balanced and Barefoot How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children by Hanscom, Angela J.

Nature Backpacks


  • Learn about birds in your backyard, the forest or the beach.  Contains binoculars, bird field guides, and books about birds for kids and adults.
Birdwatching Backpack showing contents of the kit: Formac Field Guide to Nova Scotia Birds; Birdwatching kit instructions; community nature journal; 3 brochures: eastern coastal birds, Walking Trails and Outdoor Spaces of CBRM, and Eastern backyard birds; Binoculars; Bird Watching For Kids Book.
Birdwatching Nature Backpack

At the Beach

  • Discover more at the beach this year with activities and books to learn about seashore life.  Also contains beach bucket and shovels, and Beaches of Cape Breton.

In the Forest

  • Discover new hiking trails, learn how to identify animal tracks and learn how to respect the life of the forest and stay safe around wild animals.
Forest Nature Backpack Kit with contents on display: Hiking Trails of Cape Breton book; Forest Nature Backpack instructions; handheld magnifying glass; community nature journal; trees of Eastern canada brochure; Walking Trails and Outdoor Spaces of CBRM brochure; Animal Signatures book; Woodland and Forest children's book.
Forest Nature Backpack


  • Learn how to make a nature journal, practice pressing flowers and learn about edible wild plants! Lots of activities and recipes are included.

Night Sky

  • Learn how to use binoculars to view the night sky.  Discover more about the phases of the moon and the constellations.  Includes binoculars for star gazing.
Night Sky Nature Backpack with contents on display: Many Moons children's book; community nature journal; Night Sky nature backpack instructions;  National Geographic Pocket Guide to the Night Sky of North America book; night viewing flashlight; Night Sky binoculars; 50 Things to see with a telescope young stargazer's guide book.
Night Sky Nature Backpack


Insects are everywhere around us, learn more about the fascinating world of insects with activities, insect observation tank and in depth field guides

Insects Nature backpack with contents on display: Secret Lives of Backyard bugs book; community nature journal; insects nature backpack instructions; Smithsonian Bug Hunter children's book; butterfly net; insect observation tank; Nature Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Insects book.
Insects Nature Backpack