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Autumn is such a beautiful time of year! There are so many interesting things happening in nature, which makes it a great time for a fall scavenger hunt. Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite outdoor activities to do in the backyard or while on a hike!
They give a sense of purpose on hikes so that kids don’t get bored with just “a lot of walking”, as my three-year-old put it 😂. They’re also great at preventing boredom in your own backyard, which kids can get tired of pretty fast since it’s so familiar. Our little guy is always more excited to get out when we have a mission!
There are a few different ways to elaborate on the traditional fall scavenger hunt to make it an even more unique and exciting experience! Here are four of our favorite ideas for you to try!
1. Sensory Scavenger Hunt
In general, we’re pretty dependent on our eyes and what we can see when it comes to gathering information. One unique approach to your fall scavenger hunt is to incorporate all the senses (except taste, probably)! This can be a grounding experience and really helps you to be present and aware of your surroundings.
You’ll probably notice how many things you normally miss once you start to pay attention to what you hear, smell, and feel out in nature!
Listen for the cawing of birds, the rustle of crunchy leaves in the wind, and the trickle of flowing water. Feel the rough bark of a tree, scratchy moss or lichens growing on rocks, or crispy leaves crumbling between your fingers. Smell the sweet scent of decay or damp earth after a rain.
Try closing your eyes while tuning in to these other senses to fully experience them! Along with completing a fall scavenger hunt and being present with your kids, you’ll also basically be engaging in the practice of forest bathing, which has great health benefits.
2. Bring Along Printables
Nothing makes a mission feel more real than having a list of items to check off! At least, this is true for my little guy. When you head out for your fall scavenger hunt, try bringing along a printable with different items to search for and check off as you go.
Here are the printables we created to take on the trail or use in our backyard! Make sure to bring along a pencil and clipboard. If you have more than one kid, print one out for each of them to complete individually.
You can even provide some motivation and make it a competition to see who finishes first, if your family’s into that sort of thing! This is sure to spark more enthusiasm for a fall scavenger hunt!
3. Make A Display Box for your Findings
One thing we love to do after completing our fall scavenger hunt is to display all of our findings! If you want to create something to display permanently on the wall, there are beautiful shelves like this one that you can purchase.
If you’re not really looking for anything permanent, here’s a fun idea for a diy cardboard nature display box! For something so simple, the results are really gorgeous! And categorizing and arranging their finds is another fun activity for the kiddos once they’ve finished their fall scavenger hunt.
For our displays, we use old craft container boxes with different compartments like this one.
4. Try a Photo Scavenger Hunt
If you have a budding photographer in the family (or even if you don’t!), try out a photography scavenger hunt for something different! This also opens up your options as there are a lot of interesting things you might find that you can’t necessarily pick up and bring home.
Taking pictures and creating a collage of all your finds is a great alternative to the typical fall scavenger hunt! Use it for that wildflower you don’t want to pick, a spider web, or an animal that you’ve spotted.
Set out on a hike and let your kids have the camera. Have them photograph anything and everything that intrigues them. Afterwards, have the photos printed and have them create a collage on paper. Another option is to load the photos onto Canva and create a collage right on there.
Our little guy LOVES taking pictures with our family camera! Just like you save your kids drawings, it would be fun to have them create a photo collage keepsake! In the future, you’ll always be able to look back at this collection of images from their viewpoint that enchanted them at that particular age!
Fall is a great time for nature exploration! Scavenger hunts can be a wonderful way to delve even further into nature and immerse yourself in the little details of your surroundings. On your next fall scavenger hunt, try out some unique approaches to enhance the experience!
Go on a sensory scavenger hunt and pay special attention to what you hear, smell, and feel instead of just what you can see. You’ll be amazed at all the things you never noticed before! This can also help kids be much more grounded and teach them to be aware of their surroundings.
Or try bringing along some printables! Llittle ones love having a mission and printables help that feel much more real. Plus, they’re likely to forget about all of that walking that was a source of complaint on previous hikes!
Once you’re fall scavenger hunt is finished, create a nature display box with all your findings! This can be a permanent wall shelf that you display in your home, or just a temporary container box for sorting and categorizing.
Another option is to hand your kids a camera and try a photo scavenger hunt. Not only is this a great intro to the skill of photography for kids, it’s also a fun way to create a keepsake photo collage!
Whatever approach you decide to take, a fall scavenge hunt is a wonderful option for some family time in the great outdoors!
If you enjoyed this activity, check out all my other fall ideas here!
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