Nature Scavenger Hunt (FBCEC)

Summary:

Participants will go on an outdoor scavenger hunt to find signs of wildlife or other items in nature. There are a number of extensions to enrich this lesson, which will lengthen it.

Grade Level:

K - 12

Recommended Setting:

Outdoors

Outdoor Activity:

No

Location:

Fred Berry Conservation Education Center, Yellville, AR

Contact:

Education Program Coordinator, 870-449-3484 

Duration:

45 minutes

Suggested Number of Participants:

Up to 24

Special Conditions:

Weather permitting

Objectives:

  • Identify natural items outdoors, including signs of wildlife.
  • Describe features that could be signs of wildlife.
  • Become familiar with the study area.

Key Terms*:

“Leave no trace”

*See glossary for definations

Materials:

Field guides (optional)

Hand lenses (optional)

Pencil and paper

Scavenger list

Small journals

Background:

Most participants love the challenge and competition of a scavenger hunt. A nature scavenger hunt list specific to a schoolyard is easy to compose. Items to include may depend upon the time of year and location. When conducting a nature scavenger hunt, particularly with large groups, consider the “leave no trace” philosophy and use journals or cameras to record finds.

Procedure:

  1. Show examples of things that could be found around the center that indicate the wildlife living there. Talk about signs of wildlife, where to look for things and how to be safe when looking. (Avoid lifting boulders and logs with hands, don’t stick hands into areas that are dark, know what poison ivy and stinging nettle look like, etc.)
  2. Introduce listening for sounds of wildlife. Remind them there is a diverse population of animals living in the different habitats at the center.
  3. Divide into groups of two to five and assign an adult leader to each.
  4. Provide a list of the assigned items, journal, pencil and paper.
  5. Establish the area to be investigated and give them a map. An adult group leader must verify that each item recorded in the journal has been actually observed.
  6. Determine a time frame for hunting and listening, and remind them to record what they find and where they find it in their journals and/or on their maps.
  7. After the hunt, have them share what they found. If giving prizes, award to the group that finds the most items or to the first group to find an assigned number of the items.
  8. Have them name at least three things they saw, heard or smelled that indicated wildlife.
  9. Ask what other forms of life they observed.

Modifications:

  • Begin this lesson by testing their observation skills. Place several items that do not belong along a trail and see how many can spot the un-nature trail.
  • Blend this activity with a lesson in digital outdoor photography by having participants photograph their finds.
  • This lesson can be preceded with instruction in using maps and compasses. Participants can then mark where they find each item on their map.
  • For older participants, allow them to collect the items on the list. In this case, provide list B. For competition, award the prize to the first group with 15 of the 25 items.

Review:

  • Name at least five different signs or sounds of wildlife outdoors
  • Define “scavenger.”
  • Explain why journals are helpful for recording signs and sounds of wildlife.

Participant Worksheets:

Scavenger Hunt List A; Scavenger Hunt List B

Glossary:

“Leave No Trace” – outdoor ethics program developed by the U.S. Forest Service in the ‘60s and expanded in the ‘90s to a nonprofit agency which provides education materials; emphasizes how to maintain the integrity and character of the outdoors for all living things.