Today’s summer activity for kids, #9 in our 51 Summer Family Fun Activities series, is to go on a nature scavenger hunt. Summer is the perfect time to explore your backyard, local forest preserve, botancial garden, or even city wildlife.
I mentioned in a post last Spring that one of my new favorite sites is the Go Explore Nature blog. Debi, the blog’s chief explorer, has some great ideas in these posts: How to Raise Kids Who Care About the Planet and 50 Ways to Explore Nature in Your Own Backyard.
Even if you live in the city, you can still take the kids on an Urban Nature Scavenger Hunt.
Here are some things you might need for your Nature Scavenger Hunt.
- For a hike you can just walk and discover what’s around you. For a hunt, you need a list of things to look for. You can make up your own list or download the lists we’ve included as links in this post.
- Get a notebook to record your findings. Not only does it keep the kids interested in finding the next things on their list, it also helps them with their writing over the summer. Avoid the brain drain! REI has a cute kids nature journal that you can download for free or make your own.
- Bring cameras and let the kids have a photo scavenger hunt.
- Definitely bring bug spray and bottles of water.
- Gently place the interesting bugs you find in a bug catcher to study them closer. Let them go before you go home.
- Bring some paper and crayons to make rubbings of the interesting textures you find on your nature walk.
- Keep your treasure hunt notes. That way if you go again in another season or the following year you can compare what you saw.
Here are 5 themes or ideas for your Summer Scavenger Hunts.
1. Go on a Bird Hunt. See how many different kinds of birds you can find on your hunt.
Draw pictures of the birds in your nature notebook. Find tracks on the ground, in the mud, in the sand, in the dirt.
2. Bugs, Bugs, Bugs! Go searching for the weirdest, most unusual bugs you can find on your scavenger hunt. Here’s a scavenger hunt list to download to guide your search.
3. A to Z Nature Hunt. Take a sheet of paper and write each letter of the alphabet down the side of the paper. As you walk on your nature scavenger hunt, write down any items that correspond to that letter. A for Ant, B for bird, C for cardinal, etc.
4. Animal tracks. See if you can find different animal tracks on your hunt and draw the footprints in your notebook. When you get home, look online to see what animals made the prints.
5. Wildflowers. It’s so much fun to find flowers in the wild. The bright colors, the butterflies, and the flowers growing in unexpected places. Here’s a list of flowers you could find on your scavenger hunt – pare it down for your kids based on what grows in your area.
Go outside and have fun exploring! Have you taken the kids on a nature hike or scavenger hunt lately? What did you find?