Spring is finally upon us and nature is beginning to wake up after the long winter. With warmer days and new life appearing all around us, it is the perfect opportunity to get outside and observe nature–especially if you can bring your kids along for the fun!
One of our family’s favorite activities is to go exploring–just find a trail or a beach or a patch of woods and see where it takes us. This week I decided to take advantage of my boys’ excitement over exploring (and David’s new-found obsession with scavenger hunts) and embark on our first-ever nature scavenger hunt. The concept is simple, but there is so much (fun) learning that can happen on a hunt like this.
To begin, we needed only two supplies: our “treasure map” (a Nature scavenger hunt page that I created that included items I knew we could find in the woods behind our house) and a jar with a lid (I just used a clean, empty jam jar).
Then, it was time to start searching! I held onto the “treasure map” and David carried the jar, where we placed our “treasures” as they were found.
Jacob loved following his big brother on our hunt, and he even found a few treasures of his own to add to our collection.
The boys were thrilled to be outside running around finding treasures to place in their nature jar. David couldn’t wait to see what was next on the treasure map and he carried his nature jar around with such pride.
After we’d found every item on our treasure map we walked back home and brought the nature jar inside for observation. We had three ladybugs in our jar, and the boys were absolutely mesmerized by them. In fact, David sat like this for about half an hour while I made dinner (and, just so you know, that is highly unusual!):
I poked some air holes in the lid of the jar for our little ladybug friends and we kept them for two days before releasing them back into the wild (our back yard). The boys couldn’t get enough of their nature jar, so this was the perfect opportunity to sneak in some learning. Here are a few questions I asked David to get him thinking about what he observed on our nature walk and in his nature jar:
- How many (sticks, rocks, leaves) can you see in the jar?
- Is this rock smooth or rough? Is it hard or soft?
- Which (stick, rock, leaf) is the biggest/smallest/longest/shortest/darkest/lightest?
- What colors do you see?
- How many legs are on the ladybug? How many eyes? How many wings? How many dots on its back?
- Which of these treasures are alive or come from living things?
- Can you arrange these stones in a row from smallest to largest?
- Which of these items starts with a b/r/t/f sound?
- Can you think of a word that rhymes with bug/twig/rock?
- How many syllables are in the word flower/pinecone/twig/leaf/berry?
- What was your favorite part of the nature walk? Why?
- Which of these items do not belong in nature? Why shouldn’t this be in nature? Where does it belong instead? (One of our items was litter and, unfortunately, we found lots of it on the trail. After this experience, I think our next nature walk may be a litter clean-up!)
We can’t wait to go on another scavenger hunt soon to see what else we can find!