Shake up our usual neighborhood walk with a nature scavenger hunt.
Thanks to Michele of Fun Orange County Parks for pointing me in the direction of this free, downloadable checklist of items. (You can find it and others like it at Hearts and Trees.)
I’m a big fan of this list because it requires kids to use multiple senses – they must look, listen and touch things in nature. Better yet, this checklist doesn’t require kids to remove any of their found items from the natural environment.
Instead of using a pre-made list, you can also make up your own in just a few minutes. Keep it simple with things like “something red,” “something round,” “something old,” “something wet” and so on.
Our notes from the field
It was one of those afternoons when The Big Explorer was whining about going for a walk. When I asked him if he wanted to go on a treasure hunt (which are very big in his world at the moment), he perked up immediately. Suddenly he was tripping over himself to get his shoes on and grab a jacket so he could head outside.
As soon as we left the house, he grabbed the checklist out of my hand and took off looking for his first treasure. We found it right across the street: A tree that has lost all of its leaves.
We also had to search for a tree with rough bark.
And something with thorns.
Although I was certain we wouldn’t find animal tracks anywhere in our neighborhood, my son proved me wrong. He found these (of the canine variety in concrete, not mud or snow):
With some help from my hubby and I, The Big Explorer was able to find many of the items on the checklist.
I consider it an added bonus that what was intended to be an activity for my son turned into something the whole family enjoyed. And what was normally a routine walk around the neighborhood was transformed into a nature adventure.
It doesn’t take much to make this activity a hit. A couple of things to help ensure success:
- Bring the list – and something to write with – on your walk. The Big Explorer was fanatical about crossing found items off the list, so I was glad I’d remembered to bring a pencil.
- Get familiar with the items you need to find before heading outside. You don’t have to memorize the list, but the more familiar you are with it, the easier it will be to point little ones in the right direction.
How about you – have you been on a nature scavenger hunt with your little one?