Inexpensive Field Guides for Tots

When I took Emily to the book store the other night, we looked for some field guides to add to her backpack for nature hikes, but they were very expensive. I found a great way to make a more child-friendly version. It is simple and easy to make yourself. To make your own bird field guide, you will need cardstock, a binder ring, and some clear contact paper.

Go to and create your own customizable bird field guide. I tried to pick species that we see regularly in our own backyard, and are easy to recognize (robins, blue jays, cardinals, etc). Print out the sheets and laminate with clear contact paper. Punch a hole in the top corner and attach a binder ring. Presto! Fabulous and frugal field guide!
I plan to make more of these for butterflies, wildflowers, plants, etc. — each on its own binder ring. This one is 3″ x 3″, the perfect size for little hands. She can easily flip to a page, identify a bird, and use a dry-erase marker to record the sighting. The contact paper will protect it from the elements, and helps it to withstand lots of use. More on Emily’s backpack for nature hikes later…


  1. Jenny Henny says

    I’m so excited to do this! We have a bird book that we use to try to identify the birds in our backyard, but it’s huge and confusing to me, nevermind my 3 yr old! This will simplify for her (and me!)

  2. Fabulous! I’ve noticed that too. Many of the nature books can be too over-whelming. This is simple, but not dumbed down. I loved how lets you sort birds by state. You can start with just 5 and then add more every week or so!

  3. Brilliant idea! I will have to try this.

  4. What a crafty idea. I love it!

  5. Oh my goodness! I love this idea! So much better than a book for a great number of reasons. I’m sure my 5yo will love it! 🙂

  6. Thanks so much! Your comments have made my day! 🙂 Please let me know how the kiddos enjoy them — I would love to hear about it!

  7. Amanda @ says

    Oh, I just love these! I’ll definitely be making some of these with animal tracks for camping this summer. The children are always better hikers when we’re looking for something 🙂

  8. Mama King says

    Love this! There are so many possibilities!

  9. Love this idea! I am going to make some for my 5 year olds class for spring party favors.

  10. Love this!! I am going to make some of these for spring party favors for my 5 year old’s class! Perfect!

  11. Val in the Rose Garden says

    This is a wonderful idea! I have a 2nd and 7th grade homeschoolers… and Cyan (my younger) would love to join in to the bird identification around here! I wonder if I can make hers phonetic so she can read it easily? Hmm… if I figure it out then I will post about it. Great idea! Thanks!


  12. Your Frugal Friend, Niki says

    Love this! Absolutely love it!


  13. Stephanie Griffith says

    I love this idea! I’m borrowing it to aid me in my fishing exploits.

  14. Hi Valerie,
    I just found your blog and I have to say you have fabulous ideas! Thank you for sharing them!

    I am confused though. I am trying to make a bird field guide. How did you get them in 3×3 size? The smallest I see is 6×9.

    Also where are you getting the butterflies, wildflowers etc. I'd love to do those as well.
    Thanks so much!

  15. @ Michele — Welcome to FFFB, and I'm so glad you stopped by! I printed out the 6" x 9", but cut out only the photos to make these guides. I have not done the butterfly field guide yet, but for the wildflower one, I used photos I took myself. Hope this helps!

  16. Thank you, Valerie! Off to make some field guides!

  17. Clear Cards says

    Really nice love it….!

  18. thats really lovely, great idea so that they dont tear it. i loved it.

  19. I am really excited to do this! i feel happy to this.

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  20. Anonymous says

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