Here is a great way to turn the outdoors into a game your children can enjoy over and over again. Better yet, they can create themselves! Use your backyard, playground, favorite park, or campground, in a Nature Scavenger Hunt!
Step 1 - Make a List
Your neck of the woods (ha ha.. get it?) might not have all of the same goodies as another part of the country, or world for that matter, so come up with a list of things that you can find in the places you and your children visit. Better yet, make this part of the fun! Visit a favorite spot and ask your child to go out and collect 20 or so different items. You can then use the items to come up with your list.
Make sure you include some variety and throw in some unusual items. For example, we added something man-made and a bug to our list to make it more fun. You can add items to make your list more challenging, or not. It is up to you! We felt that 18 cards were a good number to search for.
- a pine cone
- an acorn
- a smooth rock
- a dry leaf
- a leaf bigger than your hand
- a "Y" shaped stick
- a clover
- a weed
- something man-made
- a flower
- a feather
- something red
- something shaped like an oval
- a smooth-edged leaf
- something curved
- something shiny
- pine needles
- bark from a tree
- a bug
- a berry
- a mushroom
Design a card for each item you have selected for your list. You can cut your cards out ahead of time, or simply fold your paper into 9 sections like we did below.
Next, allow your child to write the name of each item, and draw a picture to go along with it. Have younger children draw the pictures and you can write the item below each picture. That way they are still able to join in on the fun.
Here are my daughter's completed cards...
Make sure to include a card for the cover of your Scavenger Hunt collection.
Cut your cards out if you didn't cut them out before you created them.
Step 3 - Laminate
If you can do so, I recommend it! It cost me less than $2.50 to laminate 18 cards at the copy shop, and your child's cards will last much longer. Not to mention the fact that they look so snazzy, don't you think?
Trim around your cards, but be sure not to cut right to the edge. You want to keep a border of laminate around each one so the sides of your cards don't fray apart or get damaged if they get wet. Once the cards are cut, punch a hole in the corner of each.
Step 4 - Tie Them Together
Add the cards to a large ring or string them onto a cord. I chose to use a piece of jute twine since it has a nice "nature" feel to it. I made it long enough that it could be worn around the wrist during play, and added some wooden beads to finish it off.
I strung all 18 cards, with the cover on top, onto a piece of twine about 15" in length. I then held both ends of the twine together and threaded on three wooden beads.
Next, I tied a knot on the end, to secure the beads and the cards.
And there you have it!
Step 5 - Make a Bag
It's a scavenger hunt, so you are going to need a place to collect all of your treasures, right?! You can use a large Ziploc bag, a paper bag or something else you might have around the house. If you are really crafty, you can create one.
I made a big with some scrap fabric, adding a casing to the top to thread more jute twine through for a drawstring top.
Now you're ready to play!
Children can play alone, race against others, or work as a team. You may even want to award a prize to your child, or each team, once they have successfully collected each item on their Nature Scavenger Hunt list.