Growing up I remember my mom often said two things,
“Eat homemade food as much as possible.”
And, “Get outside and play. You won’t be bored.”
It took me some 30 odd years to realize it, but my mom was right. Today we know that “interaction with nature is an essential part of healthy childhood development.” Richard Louv in his book, Last Child in the Woods calls it the Nature Deficit-disorder.
Kids have a natural desire to explore. That’s why I am always on the lookout for ways to get them outdoors., and the recent great weather meant one thing – Scavenger Hunt!
A well-thought out outdoor scavenger hunt isn’t that difficult for non-crafty (read lazy!) parents like me. I like low-maintenance, easy to turn around, big impact activities and this checks all my boxes. In addition, this activity gives parents the perfect opportunity to teach kids a few things about nature and have them enjoy themselves in the process.
Creating An Outdoor Scavenger Hunt
You will need:
- Bucket or bag to hold the treasure
- Pencil or crayon
- Scavenger hunt list
1. Create a list of natural items appropriate for the season and your surroundings. This is not difficult, I promise you. All you really need to do is look around, perhaps walk around the backyard. It could be a blade of grass, a feather, a piece of tree bark, rocks of different textures, a leaf with a insect hole in it, a yellow leaf. The possibilities are endless in nature and kids appreciate that.
2. You can use my list if you’d like. Feel free to customize it to your location. Put qualifications for older kids like “as long as”, “as heavy as”. Let the kids know that their priority should always be to treat the landscape with respect.
3. Write the list out clearly. Or print it out. If you do the latter, make many copies because you will be using it for birthday parties, barbecues and family get-togethers for months to come.
4. Make it competitive for the older kids. Time bound or perhaps a prize for the winning team. Competition will keep the interest high. The details like the yellowing of the leaf, texture of the bark are all great discussion points.
5. Count and keep score.
– Make sure the items on the scavenger hunt list are around, even though the kids may have to look hard.
– Make your list easy or hard depending on your audience. The point is to keep the children interested and excited.
– Think of safety and supervision especially if the area is large. You may need an adult or two to help guide the treasure hunt.
A scavenger hunt is a great way to get the kids enjoy their time in nature, and connect with friends and neighbourhood over the holidays. And the sense of accomplishment that children will feel every time they cross an item off the list will make this activity well worth your time!
I am honoured to be an Active for Life Role model, an inspirational community of parents, coaches, and Canadian Olympic athletes. Together we are all helping spread awareness of the importance of physical literacy in healthy childhood development. This is not a paid position.