"A Scavenger Hunt for kids is always a popular party theme activity. This Nature Scavenger Hunt theme is great for most age groups and there´s acres of fun-tastic kids scavenger hunt ideas, free outdoor scavenger hunt printables and clues here for the children to have fun with..."
Kids love to play, explore and discover the world outdoors and nature hunts are a great way of getting them out there and into nature.
Armed with a few basic 'nature tools' and an exciting nature hunt list, they'll have a ton of fun and they'll learn lots too, particularly if you add things to your scavenging lists that they probably don't know - like the names of specific animals, insects, trees, and so on.
They'll eagerly observe the natural world around them, taking pictures, collecting specimens and participating in all kinds of fun activities.
The possibilities for a nature scavenger hunt are endless, as are the possibilities for your list of scavenger hunt tasks. Combine this with the different natural habitats that the kids can explore - parkland, woodland, beaches, fields, lakes, hillsides, valleys, etc. and you're outdoor scavenger hunt will be limited only by your imagination!
You'll find lots of great nature hunt ideas and sample nature scavenger hunt lists below, to help get you started with your own scavenger hunt for kids...
Nature Scavenger Hunt Ideas and Free Printables
Free Children´s Nature Scavenger Hunt Party Invitations
First off, here are some free printable nature scavenger hunt party invitations you can use for your scavenger hunt birthday party...
Planning Your Nature Scavenger Hunt for Kids
Your nature scavenger hunt, together with the clues and list, can be as simple or as elaborate as you want it to be. Just remember to consider carefully the suitability of the location, the age of the children taking part, and the time available as you plan your scavenger hunt.
1. The Kids
Design your scavenger hunt for kids with their ages in mind. If your party has kids of mixed ages it maybe better to form mixed teams and letting younger kids work with older kids - younger kids may get frustrated if the items on their list are too hard to find, while older kids will probably relish the extra challenge.
2. The Time Available
Have a manageable list of scavenger hunt items for the amount of time you have to work with. If you only have an hour or two, make a list of things each team needs to hunt for or use simpler clues or riddles and a shorter list of items. For a longer scavenger hunt party you'll have time to include activities to do, things to photograph or video and more elaborate clues or riddles for the kids to solve.
3. The Location
It's an obvious statement but worth repeating none the less...make sure you choose items for your nature scavenger hunt list that the kids will be able to find! If they're hunting in a local park for example, don't task them with finding leaves from trees that don't grow there or wildlife that doesn't live there! ;-)
You can double-check what's available for the kids to "scavenge", by doing a walk-through of the area, checking with a local 'expert' or by researching field guides from the local library or online. If your hunt is taking place in a National Park, it's a good idea to lay some ground rules first, as certain national parks don't permit the picking of any wildflowers, collecting feathers, removing shells, etc. It's better to be informed and 'safe', than uninformed and sorry!
Nature Scavenger Hunt List Ideas
When you start planning your outdoor scavenger hunt, think about the kinds of activities and tasks the kids are likely to have the most fun with. This will depend to some extent on their ages and what they most enjoy doing. You can plan your children´s scavenger hunt activities around one or more of these main categories...
- Things to do
- Things to collect
- Things to find and observe
- Things to draw or sketch
- Things to take pictures or video of
Here are some sample lists for each of the categories above to get you started designing and planning your own nature scavenger hunt for kids list...
Things to Do
Here's some fun and creative scavenger hunt activity ideas...
- Draw a flower
- Make a dandelion chain
- Make a leaf, rock or tree rubbing
- Build a shelter
- Find your way with a compass
- Describe in writing the appearance of a type of flower, leaf, insect etc.
- Climb a tree, swing from a branch
- Find the biggest tree and lie on the ground at its base looking directly up the trunk to the very top of the tree
- Measure the temperature of water in a pond, lake, stream, sea
- Picnic by a lake or by the sea
- Watch the sunrise or sunset
- Look at pond water or sea water under a microscope
- Look at the stars through a telescope
- Wade in a stream or along the surf
- Take a photo of a bee on a flower
- Skip a stone across the water for four 'bounces'
- Catch a butterfly and release it back into nature
- Collect a big bag of trash, leaving the area cleaner than you found it
- and so on...
Things to Collect
Encourage the kid's identification skills by having them find different types of leaves, flowers, insects etc. that are native to your area (you can always check out the nature guides at your local library or online at website's like enature.com).
Here are some list items that are great for all nature scavenger hunt kids - see how many of them the kids could collect on their nature hunt...
- Dandelions, wildflowers, wild grasses...
- Pinecones, moss, mushrooms, seeds...
- A temporary pet - a ladybug, caterpillar, snail, slug, grasshopper, frog, lizard, tadpole, moth, dragonfly, crab, clam, shrimp...
- Wild berries - but don't eat them unless they have been identified as safe.
- Rocks and stones - fossils, quartz, sharp flint, flat skipping stones, round pebbles, stones with holes in, colored stones...
- Shells - different types and sizes of seashells, mussel shells, crab shells...
- Seaweed, jellyfish
- A piece of driftwood
- A leaf with insect holes in it
- A Y-shape twig
- A piece of bark
- A moss-covered stone, a seaweed covered stone
- A white, brown, grey, colored feather
- A blue, red, yellow, pink and purple flower
- A red leaf
- and so on...
Things to Find and Observe
Here are some nature hunt ideas for things the teams could look for and observe on their hunt...
- Insects feeding - butterflies, dragonflies, grasshoppers, ladybugs, ants, beetles...
- Creatures on the move - hopping frogs, crawling toads, walking lizards...
- A spider on his web
- A bird in a nest
- Ants marching to and from their ant hill
- A rabbit, fox or badger hole
- Leaves from oak, maple, birch, beech trees...
- Bird feathers or abandoned nests
- Sea shells washed by the surf, seaweed swaying in the current
- Pond or Lake Tadpoles swimming, mayflies or water boatmen on the surface of a pond or lake...
- Rock pools - crawling crabs, hopping shrimp, small fish darting, jellyfish swimming...
Things to Photograph or Film
Here are some ideas for things the teams could do, photograph and film on their nature hunt...
- Birds - in a nest, bird house, birdfeeder, or at a bird bath
- Squirrels climbing the trunk of a tree or searching for nuts
- Ants on a trail or crossing a path
- Wild Flowers bending to the wind
- The sun reflecting off the surface of a lake, river, puddle or pool
- Animal tracks of different kinds - deer, rabbit, bird etc.
- Sand blowing across a beach, waves reshaping the shoreline
- A Waterfall, a flowing stream, a river, waves crashing on a beach
- A Mountain and clouds passing the summit
- A Cave
- A Fallen tree with exposed roots
- A sunrise or sunset
- Moss growing on rocks, fungus or mushrooms growing on a dead tree stump or fallen log
Other fun things could include filming the team...
- Building a shelter or camp
- Following animal tracks
- Catching a fish, dragonfly, toad etc. , taking a photo of it together with the team and releasing it again
- Skipping stones on a lake
- Climbing a tree together, the team hugging a tree, swinging from a tree branch, a picture of as many teammates on a tree as possible
- A close-up of teammates holding a frog, snail, slug or insect and pulling a funny face
- A team photo with everyone holding a flower in their teeth or hair
- Imitating animals - each teammate has to pretend to walk or fly like an animal or insect
- Making animals noises - howl like a wolf, bark like a dog, neigh like a horse, baa like a sheep etc.
Kids Nature Scavenger Hunt 'Tools'
When it comes to planning a nature scavenger hunt for kids, it's a good idea to consider what items the kids might need to carry with them out into 'the great outdoors'. They won't need to take a lot of fancy equipment with them, but gathering a few items from around the house before they set out, will make their nature hunt even more fun, educational and rewarding.
Here is a list of suggested 'nature tools' for each scavenger hunt team to take...
- Backpack - to help carry all the team's items safely and conveniently
- Plastic bags - to bring back specimens without making a mess.
- Jars - for transporting insects, small critters, shells, etc.
- Notepad, pens, colored pencils - to make notes and drawings of what the team sees.
- Camera/Video camera - a disposable camera or video camera to take pictures or film of what can't be collected or as part of a photo or video hunt task.
- Magnifying glass - to see the intricate details of flowers, insects, etc.
- Insect net - to catch flying insects such as dragonflies, moths, butterflies etc.
- Binoculars - for spotting items from the list and to observe creatures like birds, rabbits, mice and squirrels up close.
- Local field guides or notes - to help the kids to identify trees, flowers, birds, etc.
Here's some suggested 'general' items for each team to take - these items will vary depending on the location and weather, as well as the duration of the hunt...
- Sunscreen - dont get burned!
- Bug repellent - don't get bitten!
- Snack - nature hunting can be hungry work!
- Water/drink - its important that the kids take something to drink with them, particularly if the weather is warm and sunny.
- Baby wipes - to clean up mucky fingers!
Free Scavenger Hunt for Kids ´Thank You´ Cards
Here are some free scavenger hunt party thank you cards that you can use to send a big 'thank you' to your party guests for coming and making it such a special and memorable celebration...