There are days that getting my kids to agree to a hike is like pulling teeth. You’d think they never had a fun hike in their lives (which isn’t true, just to be clear ;). I beg and plead and maybe even cry because I need that time outside. I hype up the place we’re going and who’s meeting us there. I bribe them with treats in their packs. But to no avail; they don’t want to go … until I bust out the scavenger hunt. This weapon is so powerful that I dare not use it until all other resources are exhausted, lest it lose it’s potency.

Nature Based Scavenger Hunts, your New Hiking Friend by Jenyfer Patton for Hike it Baby (image of a kid decked out with roll of paper, sunglasses and beach basket)Ah, the scavenger hunt!

A way to get my kids out the door? Yes. But SO much more. It’s a way to engage them in our outing on new and sometimes extreme levels; to reinforce the powers of observation that I’m always trying to train as second nature for them; and to learn as we take new things we saw and look them up when we get home.

Your scavenger hunt is only limited by your imagination (and possibly geography). A quick and dirty list with some links, ’cause I know you wanna see them. 😉

  • Colors (this simple one or this great idea )
  • Numbers (1 bug, 2 leaves, 3 acorns, etc.)
  • Identification/Types of… (bugs, animals, trees, leaves, etc.)
  • Collection vs. observation
  • Scientific (parts of a plant, life cycles, etc.)
  • Sensorial (This scavenger hunt from iMom and this one from Hodge Podge Craft are both awesome and Leave No Trace friendly if you take a photo instead of the item)

Each one can be further tailored

Each scavenger hunt can be unique. Our color collection hike will look very different if we head to the beach instead of the woods. As would our sensorial scavenger hunt. Seasonal is another way to tailor your hunt (This winter hunt is perfect for our Australian branches). Age is a big one. When I first started doing them, all the printables required reading, which my then-preschoolers couldn’t do, so I had to make my own. (This is not the case now; here are a few options for the pre-reader.) Don’t forget that age-appropriateness goes both ways. I even came across this hilarious Selfie Scavenger Hunt.

No matter what scavenger hunt you decide on, be sure it includes things in your geographic area. As adorable as a winter-themed scavenger hunt is with its mittens and hats and snow, it’s not so much fun in Hawaii, no matter the time of year. Whether you create your own or use one online, it’s good to keep the geographic factor in mind.

I greatly enjoyed finding these reusable hunt cards from Mama May I. They would be fun to stash in the car for last-minute walks and excursions.

Do you have a great scavenger hunt list? Share with us below! Or check out our Pinterest Board

Join a community of like-minded parents and caregivers with a shared mission of connecting families with babies and young children to the outdoors and each other. Learn about Hike it Baby donation-based membership options and join the fun today!


About Hike it Baby

Hike it Baby is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to getting families outdoors and on trails across the U.S. and internationally, supporting, educating and inspiring families through their more than 300 communities across North America. Since its grassroots inception in 2013 in Portland, Oregon, Hike it Baby is now a growing community of 270,000 families and 500 volunteer branch ambassadors hosting more than 1,600 hikes per month. More information, as well as daily hike schedules, can be found at HikeitBaby.com, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Photo Courtesy of Ali Chandra.

One thought on “Nature Based Scavenger Hunts, your new hiking friend

  • Stephanie
    Stephanie Jacobson

    So far our 4 yo still likes hiking and actually asks to go on days my husband and I are both home–however the second we set on the trail she asks me what we are going to find on this one!

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