Nature Scavenger Hunt
Duration: 20 to 40 minutes
Vocabulary: animal signs, decomposition, conifer, deciduous
Summary: Students will learn search for different things in nature.
Objectives: Students will learn to identify certain aspects of nature, like animal signs, signs of a good habitat, and how all of the parts work together to form a whole.
Materials: lists of things to find, pencils, clipboards, Optional: collecting bags for students to collect things they find on the ground
While animals are very exciting things to see in nature, many times they do not want to be found by humans. They are good at hiding and we have to be very quiet and careful in order to see them. One thing we can look for when animals are not present, though, are animal signs. Animal signs are something that indicates an animal was present even though you can’t see it now. For example, tracks (footprints) and scat (animal droppings/poop) are good ways to know an animal was around. You can actually learn a lot about an animal from these signs if you look closely, like whether an animal was running or walking, or what it was eating.
In order for people to feel close to nature, they have to spend time in it. They have to learn to look closely and realize that they will not notice everything the first time they look, or just quickly walking through an area. Scavenger hunts are a way to get children to slow down and really start to look at what is around them.
Walk students quickly through an outdoor area and have them tell you what they noticed. Explain that by taking the time to look closely at the environment around us, we can learn many things about the animals and plants that live there.
If you are with a large class, divide students into groups of two. Give students a list of items to find. They can search for these things all at once and record a brief sentence about what they find, or to make the activity longer the entire class could look for one item at a time and meet back to talk about what they found.
Either way, end the activity with a discussion about what the students found and what it tells them about this environment that they didn’t know before.
Items to include on the list to find (pick and choose from these as best applies to your outing):
5 different kinds of trees
A tree den (hole in a tree where animals might live)
4 different signs of animal life
A tree that takes two people to put your arms around
A place you would like to live if you were an animal
Animal tracks (foot prints)
Something you learned about in school
A place where an animal has dug in the ground
A place where an animal could find water
A shady spot
Something that would be considered a “pest” if you found it inside
A piece of trash/something left by humans
Ask students to explain ways they could tell an animal had been present even if they didn’t see it themselves.
Ask students what kinds of things make up a habitat and environment.
Have students write a poem about the type of habitat you visited (forest, wetland, etc.).
Have students repeat the scavenger hunt in a different environment and compare results.
Have students write a story about what they would do if they were an animal living in this habitat.