One of our favorite fall activities is going for hikes and walks. Summer is too hot, winter is too cold, and spring is too wet — but fall has just the right mix of sunny, dry skies and crisp, cool temperatures to inspire me to gather the clan and spend family time in the great outdoors.
For me, the fresh air and the scenery is enough to keep me occupied, but it can be tough to keep the kids happy, especially on longer hikes (or hikes without a scenic destination to spur them on). One way we keep our kids occupied during hikes is to challenge them to scavenger hunts. Sometimes we give the kids lists with specific items to look for, but we prefer more open-ended scavenger hunts where the kids have to think as well as find. My kids love these kinds of hunts because each one is exciting and unique. They’re also great ways to explore basic concepts in literacy, science, and math.
Can your kids spot items of a given color? Greens and browns are easy colors to find in nature, but what about reds, or purples, or blues?
Kids need to find something of a certain size in this treasure scavenger hunt. Give each child a ruler or measuring tape and challenge them to measure leaves, branches, blades of grass and more! You can adapt this for wee ones by working with them to find objects that are small, medium, and large.
Shapes are all around in nature but they can be difficult to find. Help your child find circles or spheres (bugs, berries, dandelion puffs, tree stumps, knots in tree trunks), hearts (leaves), ovals (leaves, eggs, stones), and spirals (snail shell, curling vines).
Remember the Fibonacci sequence? It starts out 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, and so on, with the next number in the sequence being the sum of the two previous numbers. Amazingly, it is found throughout nature. Can your kids find it? The sequence can be used to describe the way pinecones, shells, and tree branches are formed, but one of the easiest ways to see Fibonacci numbers in nature is in the number of petals in a flower.
Flowers with 1, 2, and 3 petals are relatively rare, but there are quite a few species of flowers with eight petals, and hundreds of species with 5 petals. Here’s a short list to help you get started:
If you’re up for a really tough nature scavenger hunt this Bedtime Math problem is just the thing!
Photos courtesy of Kim Moldofsky