Scavenger Hunt: Nature Activity for Parents and Kids

Scavenger hunts are always a winning activity in our house. It provides the kids with a challenge, a way to expend some energy, and opportunities to think critically about natural environments.

There are 3 features that make scavenger hunts one of the top nature activities on my list:

  1. They can be as simple or as complex as you want to make them.
  2. They are easily modified for different ages.
  3. They can use many senses, not just sight!

What to bring on a Nature Scavenger Hunt?

This is completely up to you. You can give your child a camera and let them take photos of the objects they are looking for. You can Google “nature scavenger hunt” and print out activity sheets to give to your kids. In this case, they’ll need their worksheet and a pen to mark off all the items they find. Or, to make it easier, you don’t need to bring anything.


Potential Items to Bring:

  • Camera for documenting finds
  • Worksheet with scavenger hunt items
  • Pen/Marker – if you are using a worksheet
  • Binoculars – if your hunt includes finding birds
  • Insect net – if your hunt includes finding types of insects
  • A Guide – if your hunt includes finding specific types of leaves or plants

Typically, I don’t bring anything. We simply go outside and make up the game as we go. I realize a lot of people aren’t like that and prefer to have more direction, so below I provide ideas of how to make this game work for you and your kids.

Scavenger Hunt based on Sight

This is your typical scavenger hunt model. Do you see a bird? Tree? Reptile?

For small children, keep it simple and general. But as kids get older, you can challenge them a bit more. Can you find a bird with red feathers? A pine tree? An arachnid? If you’re doing this with teenagers, you can ask more complicated ecological questions. For example, find a north-facing slope based on vegetation type.

Using cameras is a great way to help kids stay engaged in sight-based scavenger hunts. Plus, you can look at the pictures later and talk about nature!

Scavenger Hunt based on Sound

This is a great way add a little diversity to your outdoor fun. Do you hear a bird? An insect? (Can you tell the difference?) Can you hear cars? Wind blowing through the leaves?

Scavenger Hunt based on Touch

This is another fun rendition of the classic scavenger hunt. Have your kids focus on what they can touch and how objects feel. Can you find something that feels smooth? Rough? Slimy? Soft?


I hope this gives you a good starting point for your next nature scavenger hunt! Share comments and photos below or on my facebook page!

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Jenny

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