Going on a nature scavenger hunt is a great way to spend time outside with your kids. These activities can be educational, encourage creativity, or just plain fun.
If you have a child who needs something to keep them busy outside, look no further. Especially for kids who are new to spending time outside, having a project to focus on can keep them engaged for hours. It can also open their eyes to the wonders of wild spaces!
Table of contents
- Planning a Great Scavenger Hunt
- Nature Scavenger Hunt Ideas + Printables
- Other Fun Nature Projects with Kids
Long term studies show kids who spend time in nature become happier, more well-adjusted adults who experience more stable mental health. These nature and outdoor scavenger hunt ideas offer something fun for little ones and big kids alike.
Planning a Great Scavenger Hunt
You can easily make your own list of nature finds to hunt for. Make sure they are items you’ve seen in your yard or local park like a pinecone, a feather, something a deer could eat, etc. Then you can talk about how each item relates to animals, plants, or our environment.
For little ones –
- keep items simple and extremely safe
- limit list to 5 – 8 items (small kids = short attention spans)
- consider laminating the list to keep it dry and clean enough to read
- treat it like a treasure hunt to keep them engaged
For bigger kids –
- include harder to find items to make it challenging
- make it a competition or set a timer if that motivates them
- try the iNaturalist app to help identify the plants, trees, tracks, and creatures they discover during their nature scavenger hunt
Leave nature the same or better than you found it
Follow the same principles of no-trace camping during your nature scavenger hunt. You’ll be setting a positive example for your kids of treating nature with care and respect.
- Be careful not to disrupt animal habitats
- If a flower is on your list, just observe it or snap a photo – don’t pick it unless there’s an abundance of them
- Don’t leave trash behind (including your list)
- Leave the area the same or better than you found it
Nature Scavenger Hunt Ideas + Printables
From traditional scavenger hunts to nature walks, you’re sure to find the perfect outdoor activity for kids here!
Outdoor Scavenger Hunt Sheet for Little Kids
This printable from Free Kids Crafts is super simple and cute. It’s perfect for the youngest environmental enthusiasts because it doesn’t overwhelm them. It’s also a great tool for helping kids learn sight words.
Gratitude Nature Scavenger Hunt Printable
What’s better than raising kids who love and protect nature? Encouraging an attitude of gratitude at the same time! This mindful nature activity from All Natural Adventures is all about finding gratitude in wild spaces.
Five Senses Nature Scavenger Hunt for Kids
Another unique idea for a nature scavenger hunt is this one from Childhood 101 focusing on all five senses. Your little one will see, smell, hear, touch and even taste (talk about this one in advance and make sure young kids are supervised).
Things to Find on a Nature Trail or Hike
If you’re planning to explore nature trails or visit a state or national park, bring along this printable from For the Love of Food. It includes a few things you won’t find in your own backyard or neighborhood green space. It can also teach kids the importance of keeping our environment clean.
Photo Scavenger Hunt Printable
This one is most likely to appeal to teens or older kids. Photo scavenger hunts are a great way to incorporate a love of photography and spending more time outside. It’s also perfect for not disturbing nature when you find your scavenger hunts clues. Take photos of the plant alone or take a selfie with it.
This printable from Handmade Mood offers a few different takes.
Four Seasons Nature Scavenger Hunt
Each season brings so many new things to find in nature. Get the Kids Outside offers four seasonal printables so you and your little one can enjoy all kinds of weather outside.
Beach Day Scavenger Hunt
What’s better than a trip to the beach? Keeping your kids occupied with an ocean-themed scavenger hunt! There are so many exciting things to find and study at the beach. Your little ones will love this printable search from Sarah Finn Design on Etsy.
Bring along a bucket to collect items of interest and then come back to your beach umbrella to examine the objects and mark them off this list.
Scavenger Hunt Labels for an Egg Carton
For those abundant items that are ok to collect, Winter Kids shows a fun way to use an old egg carton to organize and study what your child finds. Kids are collectors, and an egg carton is just temporary enough that you won’t have to keep these indefinitely.
Other Fun Nature Projects with Kids
Here are some other exciting ways to get your kids involved in the great outdoors: