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Young Naturalist's Backpack Kit Review by Kate Kessler

Home Science Tools
665 Carbon Street
Billings, MT 59102

The Young Naturalist's Backpack Kit is a boon for your young explorer or nature walker! This kit comes with everything a young person (or a parent) would need to explore the world around them. Not only does it come in a durable backpack, with padded shoulder straps and backside, but everything that comes with it fits inside. There are a lot of items too!

Watching Nature: A Beginner's Field Guide, will help you discover what there is, sometimes out your own front door! This handy book is loaded with full-color pictures and a great deal of information about wildlife, landmarks and trailside clues to look for so you don't miss what you are outside to see. It also includes information on flowers, trees, and lichens, bird songs, insect sounds, and other animals too, waterways and seashores, winter observation, keeping a notebook to preserve what you see, what you need (which this backpack certainly provides for you), and ideas to get comfortable while you observe your world.

To help you identify what you are looking at they have included three pocket-sized field guides on wildflowers, trees, and birds. They are full-color as well and easy to use. For example the flowers are listed by color for easy reference and the birds are listed by location. They are not extensive guides so not every bird or flower will be listed, but the ones you are most likely to see will be. The pictures are drawn in such a way to help you to identify them without too much trouble. This is perfect for younger ones not yet too motivated to do deep study on the natural world!

The kit comes with a fantastic insect net and a pop-up insect habitat. When we opened up this kit for review upon receipt my youngest children ran outside to test out the net (they are three and five). I am not kidding you, in roughly ten minutes my children had caught a yellow swallow-tail butterfly! I was truly stunned because they just don't come around our backyard all that much! It was so exciting to all of us! We popped it into the pop-up habitat, the children drew or sketched it, each in their own way, in their nature books, and then we let it go. What a lovely way to start our homeschool day!

One of the nicest items in the kit is the compact binoculars. They are high-quality, small, light and easily portable by the strong string that goes around the neck. The children figured out how to use them right away. These will be helpful for watching smaller animals that really don't appreciate smaller people!

The kit also comes complete with a portable 5" x 7" plant press, for preservation of those pretty finds in the wild, a small spiral-bound nature notebook, a double lens magnifier with 5/10x magnification, specimen collection bags, and instructions. This includes further information on the use of the insect net, binoculars, plant press, as well as other helpful information.

For a family of our size this is a tremendous find and a great family Christmas gift. At $89.95 at the time of this writing, I don't know that it would be possible to collect all of these items for under this amount at retail value. It is listed for grades 2-8, but I really think this is a wonderful whole-family tool. Dad and Mom are just as likely to use the books as the children are and what a wonderful family activity to do together! Whether you go to a nature preserve, the zoo, or even your own backyard, there are always things to discover together. This is a wonderful tool.

-Product Review by Kate Kessler, Product Reviews Manager, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October, 2006