There is something exciting about heading outside for a scavenger hunt. A great way for kids of all ages to enjoy nature right in your own backyard. Read on to learn how to do one with your kids!
Getting outside and exploring nature, doesn't have to be complicated. All you need is a list of things for your kids to find and an outdoor space for them to explore.
A nature hunt can be done anytime of year no matter what the weather. A fun way to turn even a rainy day into an exciting adventure!
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Directions for how to access your copy of our free printable scavenger hunts can be found at the bottom of this post.
An easy activity to do spur of the moment or as part of a guided nature study.
The best part is that you can do this activity with young children and older kids. Really, children of all ages love hunting for items while getting some much need fresh air.
How to do a Scavenger Hunt
There are many different ways to do a scavenger hunt with your kids. Some children benefit from a guided approach while others enjoy making up their own scavenger hunt.
The basic idea is your kids head outside to hunt for different items. These can be natural objects or hidden items someone places outside.
You can provide a time limit or give them the freedom to find things and as a more relaxed activity.
Printable scavenger hunt sheets can be used to guide your child, or you can come up with things to look for on the fly.
You can point out items as you find them, collect them as your go, or even record your findings on paper.
Observing Nature with your Kids
Keep it simple and turn your next walk into an outdoor treasure hunt. You and your kids can look for and point out different natural items.
If you are doing a nature study with your kids, they can record their findings in a nature journal or notebook. They can even tape the printed scavenger hunt sheet right within their journal.
Now, you do not need to live in or near a nature reserve to do a nature scavenger hunt with your kids.
Don't under estimate how much nature exists even in a very small place. One patch of weeds growing on the outskirts of a paved driveway can provide so many learning opportunities for your kids.
If using the downloadable printables and you do not have an item on the list, simply cross it off and write down something else.
The list of items is just a guide to get you started. Your kids will often come up with the best items to observe all on their own.
Only a few minimal supplies are needed to do a fun outdoor scavenger hunt with your kids. Of course the real importance is getting outside together.
If you do not have some of these things, still try out this activity with your kids! I promise, this is a fun activity for young kids and older children.
Art Supplies: including pencils, colored pencils, or even watercolor paints are an easy way to turn this activity into an art lesson.
Clip Board: bringing one along will give your kids a flat surface to make their drawings and record observations.
Basket or Jars: children can place trinkets inside a basket, bags, or even jars. After the activity is done collected items can be brought indoors.
Field Guides: and books are optional, but fun additions if you are looking to turn the activity into a science lesson.
Printable Scavenger Hunt: optional, but a great way to provide some structure and guidance.
Printable Scavenger Hunt
The printables shown in this post can be used throughout the year with your kids. Perfect for a backyard adventure, camping trip, or visit to a local wilderness habitat.
I kept it simple to allow you to use the same sheet for more than one outdoor adventure.
Save a copy on your computer and print them off whenever you need an activity to do with your kids.
Another great option is to print off a few copies in advance, that way you already have a fun activity ready go!
Version 1 Find and Draw by Category
The first printable has six spaces with room for your kids to write and draw what they find.
Set up as an open ended scavenger hunt, your kids can get creative as they search for items that fit into each of the categories.
- Something Eye-Catching
- Rough Texture
- Has more than 3 Colors
- Hidden Wildlife
- Smooth Texture
- Something Unique
Unlike traditional scavenger hunts where kids search for a specific item such as a maple leaf, kids have the freedom to come up with anything that fits in each category.
Below each category is a large space for your kids to make a sketch. Bring along some basic art supplies for your kids to use when making illustrations.
If your kids are not really into drawing, instead they can make a list of multiple items that fit into each category.
Bring along a basket or jar and collect the items. At the end of the activity, you can all share what you found. Nature items can even be brought indoors to create your own nature discovery table.
I like doing this type of activity with kids because you can use the same set of prompts to do multiple scavenger hunts.
Another benefit is the collaboration that exists when doing this activity with someone else.
Even if it is just you and one child, you both can share and discuss what you found. The best part is that your kids practice logic, problem solving, and communication skills.
If doing this activity with younger children, you can announce the type of item you want them to find.
Then give them time to find something that fits that characteristic. When the time is up, each child can share what they found. Together you can discuss the characteristics of each item.
A great way to practice sorting and classifying with young children.
Such an easy way to incorporate important life skills during a fun hands-on activity!
Version 2 Checklist with Space to Sketch
The second version includes a checklist with 18 items and room for your kids to make sketches.
Similar to the first version, the items are open ended to allow your kids to use problem solving and creativity while searching.
- Pointy Leaf
- Rough Bark
- A Nest
- Rock with a Large Stripe
- Light Weight Object
- Multi-Colored Rock
- Smooth Leaf
- Object Smaller Than an Inch
- Something Taller Than You
- A Heart Shape
- Sparkly Natural Item
- Something See-Through
- Bright Green
- Collection of Seeds
- Multi-Colored (Not a Rock)
- Smooth Bark
- Something Wispy
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skills
No matter the season, your kids should be able to find the items on the list. Of course, you can simply cross off objects that can't be found then replace them with a different item as needed.
I find that some times providing a challenge is a great way for kids of all ages to stretch themselves a bit.
Say they can not find something heart shaped. Could they combine two objects to make that shape instead? Or can they find an imperfectly shaped heart in an unusual place?
If possible, resist the urge to jump right in and let them work through it on their own or with another child at first.
Maybe pair up an older child with a younger one. Not only are they working together, but the older child is given a chance to provide guidance. A great way for them to practice communication skills.
Back yard scavenger hunts are a great way for kids to practice important life skills.
I'm often amazed by what kids come up with all on their own once given time to think through the problem.
Additional Nature Explorations
Looking for more ways to explore nature with your kids? Make sure to check out these additional resources.
Perfect additions to a science or homeschool curriculum. Or as fun weekend activities to do with your kids!
Make sure to get your copies of the free printable scavenger hunts found below.
These sheets were created by Nature Inspired Learning and are for personal use only for your home, classroom, or public library. All of these back yard scavenger hunt printables are for non-commercial use. See full disclosure. Have questions, send me an email at julie (at) natureinspiredlearning (dot) com
Free Scavenger Hunts
- 2 different Nature Scavenger Hunt Printables
- PDF version (no physical copy will be sent)
Perfect for camping trips, nature walks, or just exploring a green space together!