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Backyard scavenger hunt for kids – free printable!

Want to make outdoor play time for fun? Check out this backyard scavenger hunt for kids – with a free printable guide!

There’s nothing better than seeing your kids play independently outdoors, rolling in the grass and exploring nature, peacefully and happily with their siblings and friends.

In reality, backyard time can be fun for a little while – but often devolves into crying about boredom and balls getting stuck in trees.

Just my house?

One of my favorite ways to make outdoor time for fun is with a scavenger hunt.

Today I am excited to share one of my favorite and most pure and simple ideas – the backyard scavenger hunt!

Backyard Scavenger Hunt Mock Up

Why do a Backyard Scavenger Hunt?

It is great to get your kids playing outside. But, the same old backyard can get boring after a while.

Adding in fun adventures – like a scavenger hunt – can transform ordinary backyard playtime into a thrilling adventure for your kids!

This type of activity encourages kids to observe, explore, and learn about the world around them.

Want to take it a step further? Check out our nature painting activity, using the finds on your nature hunt!

backyard scavenger hunt

Free Printable Backyard Scavenger Hunt

The easiest way to do a backyard scavenger hunt is by using our free printable! This is a completely visual scavenger hunt guide – no need to be able to read!

It’s the perfect addition to any backyard play time. Print it and laminate it or print it fresh every time.

Click here or on the image below to download the free printable scavenger hunt!

backyard scavenger hunt mock up

Creating the Ultimate Backyard Scavenger Hunt Checklist

Want to make your own backyard scavenger hunt? Focus on items that are readily available in your yard.

Here are some suggestions by category!

Flora and Fauna

  • Different Types of Flowers: Encourage children to identify various flowers in the backyard, such as roses, daisies, or tulips.
  • Leaves of Different Shapes: Look for leaves with different shapes and sizes, like maple, oak, or fern leaves.
  • Bird Species: Observe and listen for different bird species. Encourage kids to recognize their songs and colors, such as robins, sparrows, or blue jays.
  • Insects and Bugs: Search for butterflies, ladybugs, ants, or caterpillars. Discuss their colors, patterns, and habits.

How about making a printable ladybug craft to go with your bug hunt!!

Natural Elements

  • Rocks of Various Sizes: Find rocks of different shapes and sizes, discussing their textures and origins.
  • Pinecones and Acorns: Look for pinecones and acorns under trees, exploring their unique features and how they contribute to the ecosystem.
  • Different Types of Soil: Dig and explore different types of soil in the backyard, discussing their colors, textures, and the plants they support.
  • Mud and Puddles: Engage in sensory play with mud and puddles, feeling the texture and observing the wildlife they attract.
one year old on a nature hunt

Textures and Materials

  • Soft Grass: Feel the softness of different types of grass in the yard, comparing it to other textures.
  • Rough Bark: Touch the bark of various trees, such as pine or oak, and discuss the differences in texture and appearance.
  • Smooth Stones: Find smooth stones near water features or garden areas. Discuss their origins and the natural smoothing process.
  • Feathers: Look for feathers from birds that have visited your backyard. Explore their colors and patterns, discussing the birds they might belong to.

Sensory Discoveries

  • Natural Scents: Identify the natural scents in the backyard, such as flowers, herbs, or damp earth. Discuss the importance of scents in nature.
  • Sounds of Nature: Close your eyes and listen to the sounds around you, including bird songs, rustling leaves, or buzzing insects. Discuss the different sounds and their sources.
  • Tactile Experiences: Engage in tactile experiences like feeling the wind on the skin, the warmth of sunlight, or the coolness of shaded areas. Discuss how different parts of the yard feel different.

Animal Kingdom

  • Squirrels and Chipmunks: Look for squirrels and chipmunks in trees or around bushes. Observe their behavior and discuss their habitats.
  • Butterflies and Moths: Watch for butterflies and moths fluttering around flowers. Identify their colors and patterns and discuss their life cycles.
  • Ant Colonies: Find ant colonies and observe their intricate tunnels and teamwork. Discuss their roles within the colony and their importance in nature.
  • Earthworms: Lift up rocks or dig in damp soil to find earthworms. Discuss their ecological role and how they contribute to soil health.
toddler on a fall nature hunt

Tips for a Successful Backyard Scavenger Hunt

Here are some of our best tips to have a fun time on a nature hunt with your kids.

  • Plan the Hunt: Choose a time when the weather is suitable and natural elements are vibrant. Ensure safety by removing any hazards from the backyard.
  • Engage Multiple Senses: Encourage kids to use all their senses while exploring the backyard, enhancing their connection with nature.
  • Introduce Learning: Discuss interesting facts about the discovered items, fostering a sense of curiosity.

Managing Expectations

  • Encourage Exploration: Let kids roam freely, allowing them to explore their backyard at their own pace and discover items independently.
  • Celebrate Discoveries: Celebrate each item found, fostering a sense of achievement and excitement in children.

Adapting the Activity Based on Age and Interests

  • Age-Appropriate Challenges: Tailor challenges based on the child’s age, ensuring they are engaging and achievable.
  • Personalize the Hunt: Encourage children to add items to the list that intrigue them, enhancing their ownership of the scavenger hunt.
  • Foster Creativity: Encourage kids to sketch or journal about their discoveries, promoting creativity and self-expression.

Getting your kids outside is always a great idea! Plan a backyard scavenger hunt with your kids this week and turn play time into an adventure!

Want more outdoor scavenger hunts for kids?

Be sure to check out:

Thanks for reading!

celebrating with kids about us image

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