Emily Springfield, Educational Technology Designer

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Kalamazoo Nature Center: Winter Scavenger Hunt

 

Task

  • To create an outdoor activity for the winter months

Goals

  • Get students outdoors
  • Encourage students to observe nature closely
  • Demonstrate the interesting natural features of an urban area
  • Encourage environmental stewardship

Challenges and Limitations

  • 30 minute daily time slot
  • Since weather is so changeable, must be ready to use on a moment's notice
  • Activity must be repeatable without boring returning students, and materials must be reusable.
  • Appropriate for grades 1-6; some kids don't read yet, and some know very little about nature

Solutions

  • Created laminated scavenger hunt cards with common items found around the school: dead leaves, animal tracks, birds.
  • To encourage stewardship, items are marked off on cards rather than collected. The only exception is the "three pieces of litter" item, which means every time this gave is played, thirty or forty pieces of litter are removed from the playground.
  • Cards and markers (for noting their finds) are in a bin at the school and can be used any time the weather is suitable.
  • The activity may be repeated because even though the cards don't change, the outdoors is different every time the students go out into it.
  • The cards are laminated and reusable.
  • Students can work alone or in groups of up to three.

Winter scavenger hunt card
Winter scavenger hunt card
[View 72Kb medium-quality GIF]
[Download 1Mb high-quality PDF]

Results

Kids love this scavenger hunt! The youngest and the oldest students love the thrill of discovery and playing outdoors. Older kids are often very interested in tracks in the snow; the scavenger hunt offers a great opportunity to show different patterns of tracks (e.g., the difference between the walking and running tracks of a dog).

There is no pressure to "win" this scavenger hunt, though students often want some sort of competition. "Winning" can be set up Bingo-style, where students have to get all the items in a row or column, or, to make it harder, they have to find all the items on the card and verify it with an adult. Multiple winners are allowed.

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emily@drgndrop.com * (734) 997-8844 * Ann Arbor, MI
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