Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock  — the gold standard!  Contains how-to’s about teaching nature study, object lessons, hundreds of photos — more than you’ll ever need to know about the world we live in.  (Do not opt for the Kindle version as it is very difficult to navigate!)

National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Southeastern States — a great overall field guide with a turtleshell cover for durability!

Sketchbook with Waterproof Cover — nothing worse than getting caught in a cloudburst and having a waterlogged sketchbook!

Spiralbound Sketchbook — if you opt for this basic version, be sure to keep it in a ziplock bag while in the field!  

Winsor & Newton Watercolors — these are our very favorite!  They are good “student” (Art student, that is) quality and when you run out of a particular color it can be easily (and cheaply) replaced without buying the whole set over again.  These are not taken into the field with us but stay at home with our art supplies (in case we lose our nature bag which has, alas, happened before.

Pocket Microscope — an awesome little tool that is sturdy and amazingly high-powered!