The best nature toys for preschoolers (to inspire adventure & learning)

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Let’s be honest.  As much as you’d like your kids to go outside all the time, they probably don’t.  Unless they’re in some sort of fantastic forest kindergarten or you live freely on a farm or in the woods, chances are your kids are inside more than you’d like.  But, that doesn’t mean they can’t be playing with nature, learning about nature, and getting inspired by the outdoors when they’re indoors!

Read on for some top nature toys for indoor play.  Most of these toys will probably be best enjoyed by preschooler and early elementary aged kids.

Images of animal and nature toys, text reads nature play indoor gift guide for preschoolers

Some of these toys have been tried out by my kids and some are toys that come highly recommended.  All of the toys have been found on Etsy or Amazon so you can be confident in the seller and shopping process.

For your convenience the images will bring you straight through to the product.  These are affiliate links and if you happen to make a purchase I will receive a small commission at no added cost to you.  So thank you for supporting this site:)  Please see my policy page for more info.

Do your kid’s toys matter?

Yes, for sure they do.  If you’re like me and prefer to keep the number of toys in your house to a minimum then you probably want to make sure the toys that do arrive in the home are high quality and will be appreciated and played with.

You might also want to consider the material of the toys, where they were made, by whom, and what sort of learning or imaginative play the toys will lead to.

I really do believe that kids will get curious about the natural world if their toys also encourage that curiosity and learning.  So, try to encourage indoor nature activities and play when you can as segue way into more outdoor adventuring.

Animal toys that encourage curiosity

 

This one is top of the list because we have this exact Red Panda and it is so very well loved by both our girls!  I really appreciate the quality of Wild Republic’s plushies.  They’re super soft and have some very realistic and detailed animal stuffies.

Here’s a lovely handmade wooden dinosaur play set that I know my dinosaur-obsessed 4 year old would have loved!  Of course, as far as dinosaur figurines go, there’s a lot to choose from.  As a gift, I appreciate that this is a plastic-free and handcrafted set.

Just look at how fun this Playmobil City Zoo is!  There are lions and penguins, a gift kiosk, and a peacock too.  

We don’t have this particular zoo.  The Playmobil Zoo we have was purchased many many years ago, but it still gets pulled out regularly and my kids will play with it for hours at a time. And, over the years, our zoo has acquired all sorts of fun additions like unicorns, elephants, and even a knight and dragon!

What better way to get excited about and learn about animals then to pretend you’re an animal.  My daughters would love these.  If you know a kid who loves imaginative dress-up, then these felt animal masks would be great!

You might even want to try your hand at sewing these yourself.  There are lots of felt mask patterns out there, like these from GrandmasLittleShop.

And, you could take it a step further and make or buy some animal tails too. In fact, just the other day my 4 year old asked for a fox tail. She told me she’d like to wear one everyday because “Really, moma, I a fox”.

Outdoor Adventure Toys for indoor play

Let’s be honest here, most kids really just want the figurines, right?  Sure, Spiderman, or Hermione aren’t in this set, but there’s some people in a raft, an eagle, a tent, a guy holding a selfie stick, and even a baby in a carrier!  Really, this outdoor adventure Lego set looks like a lot of fun!

And, wouldn’t it be a great addition to this RV Lego Vacation Getaway set?  Even the awning pulls out!

Sometimes when we go on long camping trips, I like to have something special tucked away in case of really bad weather or someone needs a ‘pick-me-up’. Wouldn’t a camping or outdoor themed Lego set be the perfect surprise?

Wouldn’t your little camper love to have their own indoor campfire under the kitchen table?  This felt campfire set looks very detailed and even has s’mores to go along with the fire!

Or, if you happen to be crafty, you could make your own set to wrap up and gift.  Patternplay on Etsy has a downloadable felt campfire pattern kit for a very reasonable price.

And here’s the indoor campsite to go along with the felt campfire!  Isn’t this just beautiful?  Of course, the kids can have just as much fun making their own tent forts, but I needed to include it here because it’s such a lovely and special item.

If I’m not mistaken, these play tents fit right over a standard fold-up card table making setting up and tearing down camp pretty easy!

Another option for indoor play tents would be the very trendy and sweet canvas teepees, like these from ShopLittleWanderer or an A-frame kid’s tent, like these from BriarwoodDesignCo.

Wouldn’t most 4 year olds just love this?  I know mine all would have!  In fact, it might be better and easier to just make up your own explorers kit.  This particular set does have good ratings and reviews, but sometimes I worry about the quality of ‘kid’s toy’s versus just giving them a real flashlight, binoculars, and a good quality magnifying glass.  But, yes, it would be hard to find that adorable safari vest and hat!

Some indoor nature learning gift ideas

Aren’t these such a fun way to learn about rocks and minerals?  Combine this Geode set with a crystal growing kit or a kids book on rocks and minerals for a super educational learning gift. 

My son was once gifted a geode that he smashed open himself and he still proudly displays it on his bookshelf.

Here’s another gift set idea.  How about gifting a kids’ bird book, like this Little Kids First Big Book of Birds, a set of kid-friendly binoculars, and a bird feeder that attaches to a window.

Natural loose parts play and learning

Wow!  This insect exploration set is a beautiful nature inspired quiet activity.  Using natural elements, kids can draw, create, and learn about insects.

A set of building blocks is a toy that never goes out of style.  My kids still play with our natural wooden block set (which isn’t quite as nice as these).  I love the visual and tactile interest this natural wood tree block set has.

If you’re crafty and have the time you could make your own set for gifting.  You’d need to cut, clean, and sand some branches and blocks and you’ll have your own handmade gift set.   Adding some driftwood and rocks would make the set even more interesting!

Why choose outdoor adventure, nature, and animal toys?

Natural indoor play is a fantastic way to help kids stay connected to nature and the outside world when they’re stuck indoors. Play is an amazing tool for kids to work out anxieties and scenarios.

For example, they might feel more comfortable camping in the woods if they’ve pretend camped under the table or set up a camping adventure for their little people friends.

Hopefully these nature toy gifts will spark some ideas of gift giving or indoor nature activities for gifting or for your own home.

Looking for other reading around indoor nature play or gift ideas for kids?

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