No matter what time of year it is, most of us love it when our kids go outside and play! We need them to go outside and run off some energy, get some exercise, and get their “wiggles” out! Whether they’re running around in the back yard, playing at the park, going to the zoo, or taking a nature walk with you, there are lots of fun activities our kids can do to keep busy, burn some energy, and learn–all at the same time!
Today we’re sharing a lovely printable nature scavenger hunt for younger children. (If you have older children, the next paragraph suggests some ways they can use it too!) They can look at the items on the sheet, watch for them during your walk, and circle them as they find each one. Or you can use it as a compare and contrast exercise. Look at the pictures and then compare the in-real-life items to the pictures.
If you have older children, the printable is actually pretty enough that they may want to use it as a coloring page. (A great set of colored pencils will make this a beautiful picture! We absolutely love Prismacolor colored pencils.) You could also use this as a compare and contrast exercise similar to what we suggested for younger children, but you can have them create a Venn Diagram!
Things To Pack for a Nature Walk or Scavenger Hunt
If you’re going on a nature walk or scavenger hunt close to home, you may not have to worry too much about what to take with you. If you’re venturing farther away, though, there are some items you’ll want to consider.
- Seasonal clothing for winter– For winter, you may want to wear (and bring extra) sweatshirts, long pants, sturdy boots or old sneakers, and maybe even a hat to keep your ears warm depending on the temperature. You never know when a child may encounter a mud puddle or stream and get wet or muddy! If you’re prepared, you don’t have to worry so much about these things.
- Seasonal clothing for summer – For summer, you’ll want to wear lightweight clothing that won’t hold in moisture (if you get hot and sweaty) and that will allow your skin to breathe. You may even want to consider SPF protection clothing if you or your children sunburn easily. (We love our sun-protection clothing!!) If you’ll be in the direct sunlight, a hat is important, and you may want to bring along sunglasses too. If you’ll be in the woods or on hiking trails, you’ll want long pants and sturdy boots or sneakers. And I suggest bringing extra clothing in case you get wet.
- Clipboards – These provide a nice writing surface anywhere you are. They can also hold any papers you bring along.
- A Field Guide – It really helps to have a guide to look at when you find new and interesting things on your walk. (We love the Golden field guides because they are the perfect size for kids yet are filled with lots of details!)
- A Camera – A camera is great to take along for several reasons! First, of course you’ll want to be able to take photos of the things you find and want to document but can’t take home (like wildlife!). Second, there may be flowers or plants growing that shouldn’t be disturbed. In that case, a picture is the way to go. Third, it’s fun to take photos of your kids (Be sure to take a selfie or two so the kids will have pictures of Mom participating too!) enjoying nature. You can even print the pictures to add to your nature journals if you or your children keep them.
- Bags – Larger and smaller plastic bags are perfect for carrying anything that you may collect, like leaves, flower samples, pinecones, etc. We suggest taking along re-usable zip-top bags like these. ( We love these because, if you want to use them for food, they are BPA-free and dishwasher safe!) Consider keeping one bag with you to clean up any garbage you find during your nature walk.
Beyond just taking a nature walk and doing a scavenger hunt, there are things you can do to incorporate even more in-depth learning. Believe it or not, you can get out and enjoy the outdoors while including subjects such as writing, science, and art into your day!Nature Walk
Other Nature-Related Activities
- Leaf Rubbings – These are fun for kids of all ages! Gather some leaves from different kinds of plants, and use paper and crayons to do leaf rubbings when you get home! Make this activity even more educational by looking up facts about the plants your leaves came from and adding those facts to your leaf rubbing pages.
- Drawing – Create drawings of the plants and animals you see on your nature walk/scavenger hunt. Or you may want to draw a particularly pretty scene you see as you walk and explore. Make note of the temperature and weather. Then create more of these drawings over time. This is a great way of improving observation skills and drawing skills as well as keeping a sort of “journal” of the weather over time!
- Writing – Write a poem or short story that takes place in an area you explored. Or use the animals you saw as characters in your story.
Looking for More Ideas?
If you’d like a couple more ideas to extend your nature scavenger hunt, try these!
10 Reasons to Keep a Nature Journal is a great article if you’re thinking about nature journaling but you’re not sure if you want to try it. You’ll find not only some great reasons for keeping a nature journal but also a few practical tips throughout the article.
This Dragonfly Nature Study is all planned and ready for you! You’ll find questions to answer through observation, additional topics for study, and even books to go along with the topic!