Scavenger hunts are an exciting way to get children exploring the natural world. They are also a great way to add fun to family walks.

Get some ideas from the themes below and use them to make your own scavenger hunt lists.

Spring scavenger hunt

In spring, nature starts to wake up from its long winter sleep. Trees burst into leaf, flowers cover the ground and animals emerge from hibernation. There’s so much to see, can you find…

  • new green leaves
  • scented blossom
  • springy moss
  • sticky leaf buds
  • a lichen-covered twig
  • a piece of eggshell (stay well away from bird nests, look for fragments of shell that have fallen to the ground)

Summer scavenger hunt

Head to the woods on a summer's day and look out for...

  • brightly coloured wild flowers
  • fluffy dandelion clocks
  • nibbled leaves
  • a soft feather
  • spotty ladybirds
  • a four leaf clover

Autumn scavenger hunt

Autumn is the season of wonderful natural treasure, from crisp fallen leaves to shiny conkers. It’s the ideal time for a scavenger hunt, so visit your local wood and see if you can track down…

  • twirling helicopter seeds
  • bright berries
  • brown acorns
  • prickly conker cases
  • plump sweet chestnuts
  • different coloured leaves

Winter scavenger hunt

Trees may be bare and animals tucked up in hibernation, but there’s still plenty to spot on a trip to the woods in winter.

  • glossy evergreen leaves
  • a lacy leaf skeleton
  • bumpy bark
  • fallen tree cones
  • a y-shaped stick
  • animal tracks on the ground

Credit: Michael Heffernan / WTML

Get up close to nature

Scavenger hunts encourage children to use and develop their observation skills. When they are hunting for treasures they pay more attention to their surroundings and notice things they may have missed otherwise. So they are a wonderful way to help youngsters increase their awareness of the environment.

Tiny treasure hunt

You’ll need to keep your eyes peeled for this activity. Hunt for really small things you can fit into a matchbox. Collect little leaves, blades of grass, small snail shells, tiny twigs, feathers and pebbles. Turn it into a competition with your family – who can fit the most items inside their box?

You can take a magnifying glass on your scavenger hunt to help children to investigate their finds. Can they see intricate patterns, subtle colour changes and interesting textures?

Colour scavenger hunt

This is ideal for little ones – simply encourage them to find different colours in nature. A red ladybird, blue sky, green grass, a yellow flower petal…

For older children, collect some paint chips from a DIY store and challenge them to match items to different shades of each colour.

Texture scavenger hunt

A scavenger hunt doesn’t have to be sight-based. Have a go at exploring with your other senses, such as touch. Can you find…

  • smooth stones
  • furry catkins
  • rough bark
  • a tickly feather
  • spongy moss

Imagination-based scavenger hunts

Encourage children to let their imaginations run wild while hunting for make-believe items. If they love playing pirates, look out for shipwrecks (fallen trees), cannon balls (conkers), parrot feathers, and an X marking the spot of buried treasure (crossed fallen twigs).

If fairies are in favour, look for evidence of elves and fairies in the woods. Can you find secret doorways in trees, toadstool seats, flower petal hats or acorn cup goblets?

You can even get inspired by your children’s favourite books and hunt for the Gruffalo’s footprints, the Magic Faraway Tree, or the Whomping Willow.

We hope these ideas inspire your family to head off on a woodland adventure. For more activities you can do together, take a look at family membership.

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