Friday:Play!—Nature Scavenger Hunt

March 28th, 2008 in Friday: Play!, Nature

Nature Scavenger Hunt

The kids I nannied LOVED when I planned this for them. They were all so different in their likes and dislikes but they ALL enjoyed this.  You can make it as elaborate or as simple as you would like.Depending on the age of the children, how long you would like to spend outside, and how long you have to prepare is what should determine how you should plan out the hunt.Think of things you would like them to see (and take a picture of or draw a picture of in their own notebooks)

  • Pinecones, dandelions, seeds.
  • Insects, such as a butterfly, dragonfly, grasshopper, and beetle.
  • A spider web.
  • Leaves from an oak or maple tree.
  • Frogs, toads, and lizards.
  • Wildflowers.
  • Mushrooms.
  • Wild berries (do not eat them unless they’ve been identified as non-poisonous!)
  • If you’re by the ocean, look for seashells and seaweed.

Think of things you would like for them to collect (you can add in nets, bug collector, cups, notebook to pate them in)

  • Find feathers or abandoned birds’ nests. (Put them in plastic bags and have some hand sanitizer ready to wash off the germs after you touch them!)
  • Encourage identification skills by having the kids find different types of leaves or flowers native to your area. (Look for regional field guides in your local library or on, or do an internet search for the “native plants” of your state.)
  • Collect ferns, moss, pinecones, seeds, thorns, and other botanical specimens.
  • Catch butterflies, find a cocoon or chrysalis, capture a ladybug, dragonfly, or other insects.
  • Look for fossils, colored rocks, quartz, or flat skipping stones.
  • Find a “pet,” such as a frog, snail, or grasshopper.
  • Look carefully for something “camouflaged,” such as a walking stick insect or a moth that blends in with its surroundings.
  • If you live on the coast, include things like seashells, seaweed, small crustaceans, and small pieces of driftwood.

Add in things that you would like them to DO?  Go wading, swim in a lake, climb a tree, go on a picnic. ?  Draw a flower, make a dandelion chain, make a leaf rubbing. ?  Get up early to watch the sun rise, write a description of a sunset. ?  Go hiking, build a shelter, find your way with a compass. ?  Look at pond water under a microscope, go stargazing with binoculars or a telescope. ?  Record a birdsong or other animal sounds. ?  Find a chrysalis and watch a butterfly emerge from it. ?  Go to the zoo and have each child find a fact about their favorite animal. ?  Keep a nature journal for writing descriptions of activities and drawing pictures And if they are old enough for a camera, here awesome ideas for things they can take pictures of?  Birds at a bird bath, birdfeeder, or bird house. ?  Squirrels or other small animals. ?  Animal tracks (if you have time, you can also make a plaster cast). ?  Sunset or sunrise. ?  Waterfall, mountain, boulder, lake, beach, or swamp (with someone in the picture!) ?  A sibling or friend doing one of the activities listed under “things to do.” ?  Unusual sights like a tree root curled around a rock. ?  The discovery (plant, animal, landscape) that amazed you the most. A list of possible tools

  • Plastic bags – bring home specimens without making a mess.
  • Camera – take pictures of what can’t be collected with a digital or disposable camera.
  • Notebook and pens or colored pencils – make notes and drawings so you can remember what you see.
  • Jars – transport insects and other small critters, or use to display rocks and shells
  • Snack – hunting can work up an appetite!
  • Sunscreen and bug repellent – don’t get burned and bitten.
  • Baby wipes or hand sanitizer – clean up when you get grimy.
  • Insect net – catch butterflies and other flying insects.
  • Binoculars – observe birds and squirrels up close.
  • Magnifying glass – see the intricate details on insects, flowers, leaves, and more.
  • Plant press – preserve flowers and leaves to mount in a notebook or use for cards or crafts.
  • Field guides – get help identifying trees, flowers, rocks, birds, etc.
  • Backpack – carry all your exploration tools conveniently.

Some of these ideas have come from www.hometrainingtools.comFor some scavenger hunts there would be a clue at each spot, they would have to complete the task and then it would tell them the next place to go. For other scavenger hunts I would write out a map for them to follow. And for others the instructions would be written on the front page of the notebook.

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