We love nature scavenger hunts in our family. It’s one of the ways to truly experience the wonderment of life through a child’s eyes. We’ve made lists and gone out with bins, basket, or bags. But there have also been times we’ve been stuck outside waiting for an event or an appointment and I’ve simply made a verbal list of things for my kids to collect with their hands. Yesterday was especially fun. I had some craft ideas involving nature. By the time we were ready to head out, we could hear thunder off in the distance. A storm wasn’t too far off. While I understand that most would take heed of the weather’s warnings and change their plans, I couldn’t resist going out. Honestly, I find some of the most fun can be had right before an impending storm. Rather than having unlimited time at the park or on a trail, we find ourselves really appreciating each moment before the sky opens up. And so yesterday, my son, daughter, and I ran out feeling a little rebellious as our neighbours sought pre-emptive cover.
We collected all sorts of items in our baskets. One of my favourite aspects of living in my current city is that the city does not permit the use of herbicides. As a result, the grass on the roadsides and local playgrounds are teaming with gorgeous wild flowers. Aside from flowers, we managed to grab sticks, rocks, bark mulch, leaves, and mud (my daughter insisted, we needed mud). Once home, we took out some of our favourite craft supplies, items from our recycling bins, brushed off our imaginations, and got busy. Here are the ways we brought our scavenger hunt to life and how you can too!
What You’ll Need for a Scavenger Hunt
- Create a list using pictures and/or words. Or, simply use a mental list. Pinterest has some great printables to make the process a bit easier.
- Grab a basket, container, or bag.
- Option to bring a camera or camera phone to capture images of insects, birds, and other wild life.
- If you are venturing into forests and potentially protected areas, please familiarize yourself with protected and endangered plants. If unsure, don’t pick wild flowers. Dandelions are always fair game!
Nature Crafts for Kids You Can Make With Your Findings
1. Three Painted Rock Activities
While pet rocks may seem redundant, to your kids, they’re likely very exciting. All you need is some tempera paint, fine paint brushes, and a little bit of vision!
Using tempera paint or chalk markers, write the letters of your child’s name and/or common words (mom, dad, cat, dog) and have your child organize the letters appropriately. This activity is great for letter recognition, early literacy, and play-based learning as a whole.
Tic Tac Toe
Grab some paint or chalk markers and have your kids either colour them two opposing colours, mark Xs and Os, or draw symbols (you will need 9 rocks in total). Then, use chalk to draw the 3×3 grid. Once the rocks have dried, play!
2. Magic Stick Wands
Despite your best efforts, you and your kids will get some paint on your hands, but that doesn’t make it any less fun! Taking any sticks from your nature scavenger hunt, remove all of the smaller branches on each stick. Using tempera paint or markers, cover your stick in colour. Option to use a bit of liquid glue and glitter to make the stick extra magical!
3. Flower Impressions
Pressed Flower Frames and Lanterns
The frames really couldn’t be easier.
- Simply press your flowers by placing the flowers underneath a heavy book, pot, brick or similar. Leave for approximately one week (the flowers need to dry).
- Place them in a frame as you would a photo and then display!
For something extra special, try making a lantern!
- Take your pressed flowers, mason jars (or other glass jars with labels removed), a paint brush, some white liquid glue, and food colouring.
- Pour 1-2 tablespoons of glue onto a small plate or container lid. Mix in a few drops of your desired colour into the glue.
- Paint the jars. Once dry, use a little bit of glue to affix the flowers to the lantern.
- Place a flameless candle into each jar and enjoy!
If you would like the jars to be water resistant, spray with varnish. We don’t do this as we wash and remove the paint and reuse them for different seasons.
Flower Painting Impressions
This one is so simple (and pairs really well with the last activity on this list).
- Take any of the flowers collected, some tempera paint, and paper.
- Encourage your child to use the flowers as they would a paint brush or stamp.
Observe the different impressions. We particularly liked twirling the flower stem and watching the result on our paper.
4. Rockin’ and Rollin’ Paint Box
You and your kids will likely smile your way through this dynamic form of painting. All you need is tempera paint, a box, and any item you’ve collected that can roll, or bounce.
- Grab a box without a lid from your recycling bin. An option is to use paper to line the bottom of the box. If doing this, be sure to secure your paper using a bit of tape. The benefit of doing this is that the art created will be easier to save and showcase.
- Taking rocks, acorns, chestnuts, pine cones, thistles, or anything else that might roll that’s been collected on your hunt, cover in paint and then bounce and roll them around the box. This also works if you squirt some paint into the box and add the items to rock and roll around afterwards!
The outdoors offer such endless possibility for discovering, learning, and creation. I hope you enjoy these activities as much as we did!