Outdoor Nature Discovery Lab

During a recent trip to the dollar store, Emily asked if we could spend an afternoon creating a “nature discovery lab”. I thought that was a great idea, and as it turns out, we were able to use a few inexpensive items from the dollar store to make our nature discovery lab even more educational and realistic! Both of the girls thought this was great fun!!

From the dollar store we used: a bag of river rocks, a basket of shells, and a magnifying glass. You may find packets of seeds there too, but it is too late in the growing season here. While it’s more fun to gather these while on a nature hike, the dollar store is a nice option for those who live in the city or in small apartments.

Emily spent a long time pretending to prepare exhibits for a nature museum! She found a small curio display shelf from her Aunt Julia, and it worked nicely for sorting all the different shells, stones, leaves, and flowers. A small drawer organizer, or even an empty egg carton would work nicely for this too!

The girls loved getting a close-up look at their finds, identified trees from fallen leaves using simple field guides, and made lots of observational drawings to go along with their “exhibits” too!

Toward the end of the afternoon, I issued a challenge for them to find six different kinds of seeds from our own backyard. They did a great job finding and sorting them into an empty egg carton!

Later, I asked the girls, “What was your favorite part about this little activity?”


Have fun!!


  1. I love it..except with my boys they would find 6 different bugs!

  2. Dear Valerie,

    All of those seashells, straight from the waters of Pennsylvania. Incredible!


  3. My son could spend hours just looking over the objects in your box!

  4. I want those curio shelves! Forget my kids, I want them.


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