Today I’m going to show you a fun nature walk activity for kids that I put together back when I was homeschooling during the shutdown from the pandemic.
This nature walk scavenger hunt is similar to one I assigned my 9th graders to complete when I was still teaching high school biology. They would need to bring in each item to class and present them on a foam board.
This is a great way to get the kids outside as the weather starts to warm up. Or use it now while the fall weather is still great and they need to get outside after school! It’s an educational activity getting kids away from screens and out into a natural environment.
I have adapted this nature walk activities lesson plan to be user-friendly for students of all ages in the elementary level K-3. I also have a version for grades 4-8.
After you print your checklists, head to a park or your own backyard, rather than traveling to a local park or state park or your own backyard. This could be a family activity or you could just send older kids out with younger kids and they work together to complete the scavenger hunt. I encouraged my girls to take pictures of what they discovered, and that way they could make a digital collage. (a more appropriate bonus assignment for 4th-8th graders.)
This free printable for an outdoor play scavenger hunt is perfect to do in the spring, summer, or fall months.
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I have two versions you will receive – one nature walk activity for kindergarten through third grade, and one for fourth thru eighth grade. Sign up below to get these right into your inbox!
The K-3 version has basic descriptions of items you will find in nature.
The 4-8 version may need some additional research to look up what some of the ecological terms are before they head out and find them in nature.
You can easily expand this assignment and have your students create a PowerPoint presentation of what they found and took pictures of. Or you can have them bring in their specimens and use packing tape to attach them to an index card. Then on the back, they can explain what they found, and maybe include facts about it such as where it grows/lives, where you found it, and if it was living or not.
They can define some of the more challenging biology vocabulary, along with what their role is in the ecosystem. If you have a pond and can get some pond water, a fun additional activity would be to look at it under a microscope and discover even more living things! Or just have a magnifying glass on hand so that you can look at leaves or bugs or worms up close just a bit more than your naked eye.
Another thing you can do, which is not on my list, is to write down all of the sounds of nature you can hear while outside. Then maybe have your kids do some research on what it was. Or have them guess, come home and search on YouTube for that same noise. Maybe they can learn a new bird call or animal noise they didn’t know before!
Or – just go outside into the natural world and have fun with this without it being a strict educational assignment – and find what you can, skip what you can’t, and just have fun looking a little more closely at things while you are outside!
I do recommend wearing boots that you don’t mind getting muddy, or at least close-toed shoes. You never know what you might find that is interesting, and having extra foot protection will make the experience more enjoyable. This activity can be done with the whole family, so it may be worth scheduling time with good weather to get outside and discover something new in nature you didn’t know about before!
We completed our fun nature scavenger hunt in late April. One item on the list was to find a flower with five petals. My girls were busy running around counting petals on the very few flowers we have in upstate NY this time of year. They found a few with 4 or 6 petals, but none with 5. I think we’ll have to wait until May to get better luck on this one.
We have a very large cat named Spot who is the friendliest cat in the world. He’s also the most amazing hunter I’ve ever seen in a cat! My girls know that he hides and eats his critters under the deck, so when they saw animal bone on the nature scavenger hunt list, they decided to look there first. They easily found a jaw bone! It could be from a mouse, but it was awfully big for a mouse, so my bet is that Spot caught a small squirrel sometime during the winter and we found the remains.
My youngest is having fun grabbing a small pinecone off of a tree and putting it into her fun scavenger hunt collection bag.
Close by the pine tree, she was also happy to find seed pods from a locust tree and check that off of her nature walk worksheet!
We have a wood stove, and this time of year is when we get our wood delivered and stacked to prepare for next winter. My girls picked up one piece of wood that had not been stacked yet and saw all of the worms crawling near the top. That crossed off the invertebrate on my oldest’s list and worm on my youngest’s list!
We walked into our woods and found this unidentified mushroom. My oldest is using this as her “unique item to identify” and will use the internet to help her figure out what kind of mushroom it is. I’m sure we will all enjoy learning about her research and what she discoveries!
If you are in some woods during your nature walk, be sure to look under rocks and logs and you’ll find more insects, spiders, pill bugs (isopods), worms, and other living things that you may want to identify!
If you would like these your own nature walk activity worksheets, be sure to sign up below and you’ll get both versions, adapted by age group, for your kids to use!