When was the last time you really explored the outdoors using all your senses? With our free printable nature scavenger hunt checklist, children (and grown-ups!) of all ages will have fun getting some fresh air. Read on for suggestions on how to use our printable with preschoolers, tweens and even big kids.
Over the summer, we spent five weeks at my mum’s. Every week, we’d be taking part in the Tuesday walks, picnics and afternoon games with the group of retirees my mum looks after. It was like being back at toddler group, but with older people! We loved it.
We missed one Tuesday and we were really disappointed to find out the lady who had planned the walking route had made a little treasure hunt for my children.
After mulling over what we’d missed out on, I decided to create a little nature scavenger hunt the children and their cousin could do in the garden before I started cleaning our big inflatable slide.
How to Use Our Free Nature Scavenger Hunt Printable
If you want to use this free printable again and again, laminate it straight after printing. Our little nature scavenger hunt checklist is suitable for all ages. You’ll just have to tweak the way you use it to match the participants.
You’ll probably want to use it differently if you’re going to the park with one 6-year-old or on a hike with a group of preschoolers. You could also use it with a primary school class, for a small outdoor-themed party, a couple of tweens, older kids or your family.
No matter how you use this little treasure hunt, it will work for a visit to your local park or a longer day trip in the woods.
You can approach this activity in many different ways, depending on who the activity is aimed for.
Treasure Hunt for Preschoolers
With children who are not reading yet, you can talk about the pictures and what they think they represent before you set off. Some will be obvious but others they might need help identify, like weeds or the tree stump.
If they have started learning to decipher sounds, you can sound out the words with them, starting with three-letter words like ‘ant’ and ‘sun’ for example.
Explain to them that you are going to go on a walk and will be looking for as many things as possible whilst you’re out. Get them to pick a highlighter or pencil so they can tick or circle things as they spot them. If you have a clipboard, let them borrow it as it will make it easier for them.
Nature Scavenger Hunt Using all Your Senses
Make the most of your time in the fresh air, first completing the outdoor treasure hunt, then chatting about what you’ve seen, smelt, touched, tasted and heard. Nature smells and looks different after the rain, on a warm spring day, in winter, after the grass has been cut, when crops are sprouting out, etc.
When we did our treasure hunt, we smelt grass, wild flowers and the flowers my mum had just watered.
We listened to birds so we could identify where their nests were. We obviously didn’t go near so we wouldn’t scare them.
The children were particularly interested in observing ants so we did a bit of research on their teamwork and ‘go to’ attitude afterwards.
We felt tree bark, guessed what animals might live in various holes or mounds around the garden.
We tasted mirabelle plums and were disappointed there weren’t enough to collect to make a tart. When you encourage children to use their senses, just make sure you watch them closely and warn them not to touch or taste anything without checking with you first.
Nature Scavenger Hunt Bingo
This way of using the printable should help with children who are reluctant to take part. Pre-teens and teenagers may not be as keen on an outdoor treasure hunt as preschoolers might be, so here is a way to make the exact same printable into a bit of a competition.
It will work if there are several children taking part in the walk, or a family (who said grown ups couldn’t take part?).
For this activity, you just need the free Nature Scavenger Hunt printable and a pen. Just like a game of bingo, the winner is the first one to spot 5 in a row (horizontally, vertically or diagonally). To avoid cheating, get the participants to take photos as proof either on a phone or camera.
Collect some Treasures
Bring a paper bag or empty egg carton to collect treasures as you walk around.
You can use the flowers, twigs and leaves you’ve gathered for a nature collage.
Alternatively, you could use your treasures as painting tools to create some masterpieces.
You can also press then dry the leaves and flowers. Another idea is to make a nature notebook, with drawings, photos, your pressed flowers as well as any observations you might want to add.
Why not decorate a hat with leaves, like Wriggly did?
Take Your Scavenger Hunt Printable on a Camping Trip
Print our little checklist before your next camping trip and encourage your little ones to appreciate their surroundings as you set up the tent and bedding. It’s a great way to demystify noises, not get scared of bugs flying around or crawling nearly and see the beauty in nature.
How to Take Your Scavenger Hunt Further
To go on your treasure hunt, why not take a magnifying glass, binoculars or a camera?
Why not downloading Natural Geographic’s iNaturalist app which will hep you identify the plants, trees and animals around you. It will also help you connect with a community of over a million scientists and naturalists so you can learn more about nature!
Discuss the treasure hunt you’ve just taken part in. This kind of activity is great for starting a conversation with children, like:
- How do you feel after you’ve spent time outdoors?
- Which item was the most difficult to find? Why do you think that is?
- What did you smell during the scavenger hunt?
- Where do you normally find spider webs?
How to Print Your Scavenger Hunt Checklist
Click below to download the Nature Scavenger Hunt PDF and save it to your computer. Open it and you will be able to print it.
Please note that this printable is for personal use only and you may not use any part of it for commercial purposes or print the file to sell. You may share this web page but not share, loan or redistribute the document after you have saved it. Teachers may use multiple copies for students in their own classes.
Hands up if you enjoy a treasure hunt!
When you learn to explore the wonders of nature and appreciate them as a child, you are more likely to grow into adults who value and strive to protect our environment.