‘Tis the season for all things outdoors.  To keep my 4 year-old daughter, A, engaged during long hikes and jaunts on the beach, I’ve loaded our activity bin with several easy outdoor scavenger hunts.  {There is something about the thrill of the hunt that never fails to motivate my 4 year old.}

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Easy Outdoor Scavenger Hunts for Kids.jpg

I decided to challenge my daughter by asking her to find items that will help build her vocabulary too.  The best thing about all these hunts is they can be adapted for various ages and for so many different occasions.

Beach Clean-Up Scavenger Hunt

After my daughter learned that garbage can hurt sea life, she made it a point to pick up any trash she sees at the beach.  For a recent trip to the coast I whipped together a super simple beach clean up hunt.

Even though I knew it could get wet, I grabbed a brown handled bag for the hunt because I wanted A to be able to check off the items as she collected them.  Then, thinking of items we often find at the beach,  I simply wrote descriptions down trying to use words A might be challenged by, such as {something brittle, dull, or crinkly}.

Scavenger Hunts for Kids

A had a blast collecting and sorting her garbage and even got some other kids on the beach to join in on the hunt. I’ll be making up a few more of these for sure to have on hand for other trips to the coast.

Shades of Color Hunt

We go on neighborhood color hunts every few weeks, so to mix things up a bit I made several hunts focusing on just a few colors at a time.  I wanted A to slow down and notice that colors come in all sorts of shades.  I simply took an old egg carton and painted a circle of color in the bottom of each cup.  {A marker would work well too.} I knew we’d be using this during a hike so I chose colors we’d be likely to find and painted 2-4  circles in shades of the red, green, yellow, and brown.

Easy Outdoor Scavenger Hunts for Kids

I asked A to describe the colors before we left on the hike. This proved to be a challenge for her.  I helped by asking her questions like, “Does this pink remind you of some food you might find at a fair?”  During the hunt, she had to pause a moment before deciding if a leaf was bright moss green or a deeper forest green. As she gets better at noticing subtleties, I’ll fill the carton with shades of 1 or 2 colors.

Easy Outdoor Scavenger Hunts for Kids

Nature Photo Hunt

On a recent walk through the park, I let A take my camera phone and use it to take pictures of items on a nature hunt list.  I made up the list before the walk and carried it along on a small clip board with a pencil attached.  I chose descriptive words for items I knew she would find, such as {something fuzzy, jagged, squishy, and prickly}.  I also challenged her by including a few math descriptors like {something cylindrical, something conical, and something heavier than a book}.

She LOVED being able to get her hands on mama’s phone and practically ran down the path looking for items on the list.  Later, I printed off the photos to make a book with A.  We sat down and used the pictures to tell a simple story about our hike, making sure to use the descriptive words on the scavenger hunt list. We’ll definitely be doing this again as the Nature Hunt book is a popular bed time read at our house.

Scavenger hunts are such a simple but engaging way to get kids active and learning.  What has been your favorite ways to get your kids in on the hunt?

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