child walking outside

The suspense. The thrill. The discoveries.

What kid doesn’t LOVE a scavenger hunt. Setting your kids off on a scavenger hunt in nature can really make the outdoors come alive for them. Being on the “hunt” for signs of nature will help develop your child’s nature observation skills and deepen their connection to and comfort level with the outdoors.

Scavenger hunts are very simple activities and need virtually no prep work or materials. You can keep it simple and virtually unguided or you can get creative and take it up a few notches!  

How to set up a scavenger hunt

nature scavenger huntThere are many approaches here for you to take. You can either design the scavenger hunt yourself, print one from the internet, buy one on Etsy, or ask your child to create one for you or others to do. Feel free to download our free printable with common natural critters and objects.

It’s super fun to make you own hunt! Do some pre-work before the hunt. Get down to your child’s level and try to see the outside world from their POV. Include common objects like sticks or trees but also tougher to spot items like a nest or a migratory bird. Just make sure the items or critters or can be found in the area of your hunt!

Another alternative is to give them a blank sheet of paper with 10-20 lines drawn on it so they can fill in their own finds. Once they fill it all in, they’ve done!

boys running in parkFor creative kids, ask them to make a scavenger hunt up for you! This makes them the local nature expert so they will have to do the prework on their own, really observing and tuning into the natural area.

Keep the area small (like a backyard) if you have a small child or explore an entire park if you have an older child. You can also do your scavenger hunt along a family hike. 

Give your child a clipboard and a pencil and let them at it! You can time the hunt or keep it mellow. It all depends on your child. Instead of just checking off an item, you can ask them draw it.  Some kids might like to take photos of their finds to document them. 

Take it up a notch

If your child really enjoyed the hunt, make it a Saturday morning ritual or a special activity you do at every new natural area you visit. They can keep their scorecards as souvenirs. Or even some of the natural objects.

birch tree bark

Vary the level of difficulty by including harder to find critters/ objects in nature or by focusing on different categories (birds, insects, animal homes, textures, colors, etc).

Most of all, have fun as you watch your child tune into the natural world!