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Facilitating a Nature Scavenger Hunt

nature scavenger hunt

By Filip Tkaczyk

A nature scavenger hunt is one of the best tools for inspiring children about the natural world. It helps them foster a strong connection and understanding of nature. The natural world is rich in many small wonders and treasures, and children are naturally drawn to these things. 

Items for a Nature Scavenger Hunt

The variety of small items is incredible and they can include:

-various small plants, leaves and flowers
-pine cones
-skulls and bones
-insects and spiders (alive or dead)
-frogs and toads
-lizards and snakes
-birds eggs and fallen nests
-tracks and scat
-and many other little inspiring wonders

Here are some helpful tips for facilitating a nature-based scavenger hunt:

  1. It can be helpful to scout out your site beforehand to get an idea of what kinds of things your children might discover there.
  2. Make a list of things you want to be found and hand them out to the children.
  3. If you have more than 4 or 5 children, it might make sense to break them up into several smaller groups.
  4. Send each group out with an adult, for between 30 and 40 minutes.
  5. You could have the children collect their items and bring them back, or mark them off of a list.
  6. When the group(s) return, have them share their stories of what they found and how.
  7. This can also be an opportunity for you to talk about certain items on the list and why they might be especially interesting and exciting to know.

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These games can really help inspire and connect kids to the natural world through the direct experience of their senses. It can help encourage them to touch, see, and smell things that they might otherwise not be inclined to investigate.

Don't underestimate the potential learning possibilities and excitement a simple natural scavenger hunt can create! Have a great time exploring and learning through nature!

For further reading, check out information on nature-based scavenger hunts at Home Science Tools and

Additional Resources for Outdoor Games with Children:

Two excellent books for finding creative ways to help children connect with the natural world written by Joseph Cornell are: Sharing Nature with Children and Sharing Nature with Children II.

To learn about more activities like the nature scavenger hunt, check out our article on Outdoor Games for Children and check out our Outdoor Education Courses.

About the Author: Filip Tkaczyk is a periodic guest teacher at Alderleaf. He also wrote the field guide Tracks & Sign of Reptiles & Amphibians. Learn more about Filip Tkaczyk.

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