Where To Find Gifts for Nature Lovers and Teaching Tools
If you're like me, you value great places to find gifts for naturalists, items for teaching, or unusual natural objects and books. Here are some of the best resources I've found for environmental science teaching supplies. Here you can find gifts for nature lovers or tools and supplies for outdoor teaching and education.
Acorn is a long time favorite of mine, and has a very comprehensive list of books, hands-on activities, guides, hand lenses, nets, casting supplies, fake animal poop, skull replicas, puppets, owl pellets, and more.
For parents looking to find kits for science, engineering, electricity, light and color studies, and magnets this is the place. Artec is a great catalog with supplies for all manner of lessons. You can make your own camera, find the parts for electrical current kits, a pendulum set to learn about propulsion, kits to make conductors and motors, kits for electric and solar cars, microscopes, and biological models.
Audubon Workshop is dedicated to improving your yard to make it more wildlife friendly. They offer bird feeders, bird baths, squirrel baffles, flowers, plants to attract butterflies, and more. The only thing I'd suggest watching for is that many of the plants they offer could be considered "invasive" in certain parts of the US. Be sure to order only those that you know are indigenous and beneficial to your local ecosystem.
Being a fan of all things "bat" this is a great shop. It is recommended by Bat Conservation International and a portion of all the sales goes to BCI. They have everything "batty" you'll need, from books to mugs and shirts. They also have jewelry, masks for kids, fossil replicas, and more. Bats aren't just for Halloween!
Carolina Biological Supply Company
Carolina is the go-to site for supplies for the laboratory or classroom. They have an extensive catalog of live and preserved specimens, glassware, rubber gloves, tools, instruments, microscopes, models, and more. They can be a bit pricy for certain items, but the quality is consistent and reliable and their shipping is quick.
Constructive Play Things
Constructive Playthings is a supplier for classrooms with younger students, from pre-K to elementary. They have a nice selection of furniture, rugs, kid size tables and chairs, mobile LED light tables, old fashioned blocks and car tracks, "pretend" supplies, and more. Their science materials aren't really any different that you would find in places like Acorn Naturalist or Home Science Tools. Their main specialty is more general classroom supplies and set up. I found their paper catalog easier to navigate, and more appealing, than their online catalog.
Discovery Channel Store
The Discovery Store hosts a wide variety of materials, from the educational to the ridiculous (like Bigfoot dolls). You can connect to several of the major channels/stores that Discovery Communications hosts, including Animal Planet, Sci Fi Channel, and TLC all from this page.
For sheer fun and different types of science demonstrations and activities this company is great. They have all sorts of interesting supplies, from UV changing solar beads to DNA kits and kits to make a car run on salt water. This is a great place to look for birthdays, gifts, and Christmas shopping as well.
Home Science Tools
Home Science tools is a good place for amateur naturalists, biologists, or those wanting to assemble a laboratory at home for home school etc. They have a nice selection of microscopes at a variety of price points, chemistry kits, nets, and other lab supplies as well as other physical and life sciences. It's not as expensive as Carolina Biological, but also isn't quite the same higher end research grade quality, though good quality for the money.
Monarch Watch Shop
Monarchs are rapidly disappearing and many people ask me what they can do to help. Join either Journey North (to monitor their migration) or help with Monarch Watch. You can visit their shop to purchase tags, kits for individuals or classrooms (to tag them), monarch rearing kits, shirts, and more.
This is a great catalog for items similar to what you'd find in Acorn Naturalist. There are nature kits, books, nets, stamps, binoculars, sorting trays, animal skins, track casts, replicas, owl pellets, fossils, and more. I find the costs to be about comparable to Acorn Naturalist, though sometimes a bit less (it depends on the item).
Nature Gift Store
I haven't ordered from this company, but it's worth mentioning as a place to purchase rearing kits for butterflies, insects, and amphibians. PLEASE DO NOT ORDER INSECTS NOT NATIVE TO YOUR REGION or order amphibians or insects and then release them. These kits are good for demonstration, but be careful to make sure that the organisms are not released. If you use this company let me know, I'd like to know more about the quality and/or delivery of their materials.
Much like Carolina Biological Sargent Welch supplies a wide variety of science/biology/chemistry/lab equipment. The prices are on par with Carolina and they have a nice selection of some interesting kits and items I'd never seen before. I particularly like their environmental science collection. They also have live and preserved specimens and animals.
For those that teach, or are interested in osteology (the study of bones), the Skulls Unlimited catalog is a great resource. You can find real bones, skulls, teeth, replicas of skulls and bones, animal tracks, replica eggs and more. They have a variety of price ranges and options for skulls and bones, from "budget" to university grade.
Think Geek is less about pure science than it is about just fun and odd nerdy science gifts. They have everything from gadgets to Geek toys. Their clothing is snarky in a "scientifically literate" way, including pop-culture with Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, Dr. Who, Big Bang Theory and more.
Wildlife Supply Company
This company supplies mostly aquatic sampling gear. They have a good selection of invertebrate nets, plankton nets, water sampling kits, benthic grabbers, bottles, testers, and more. They can run a bit pricey, but the quality is good and this type of specialized equipment has always been pricy.