Backyard Nature Photo Scavenger Hunt

A great outdoor party game that's fun as well as "green"

Boy sitting in long grass taking photograph using smartphone
Cultura RM/Mieke Dalle/Getty Images

When it comes to choosing or designing great games and activities for kids, something that gets kids moving and exploring is always bound to be a hit. This backyard nature scavenger hunt will get kids' natural competitive instincts going, and having them hunt in teams will encourage teamwork. Best of all, a fun outdoor game like this will get kids thinking about nature and uses only natural resources, which makes it a great "green" outdoor party games idea for a birthday party or any other special occasion.

What you'll need:

  • 2 digital cameras or cell phones(more if you have a large group of kids and plan to divide up into more than 2 teams)
  • A timer or stopwatch
  • A backyard or the park
  • 2 copies of a list of items to find (about 10 to 15 items). Some ideas for list items:
    • Something smooth
    • Something rough
    • Something brightly-colored
    • Something green
    • Something slimy
    • Something wet
    • Something that has cracks in it
    • Two stones or rocks of different sizes
    • Two stones or rocks of different colors
    • A flower
    • An insect
    • Pinecones
    • Two different kinds of leaves
    • Bark
    • An interesting-looking twig
    • A small, furry creature, such as a squirrel
    • A bird
    • A pet (such as a dog)
    • Moss
    • Grass

How to play: Have kids divide up into two teams. Older grade-schoolers can work on their own, but younger kids may require a bit of assistance from the grownups.

Each team will work together to find the items on the list and take a photo of the item. (Encourage kids to take turns taking a photo so that everyone has a turn.) Set the timer for an hour or so.

You can use digital cameras or, even easier, cell phones. The winning team will be the one that finds the most number of items on the list in the allotted time.

Tip: Tailor the list of items to find to the ages of the kids. For instance, younger grade-schoolers may not have the attention span required to find 15 items, so 7 to 10 items might be a better way to go.

Younger kids may also fare better with less specific descriptions (so "an interesting leaf" rather than "a leaf that has several points and has red in it" or "an insect" rather than "an insect that has at least six legs") whereas kids who are 8 and up may be more challenged by detailed list items.

Be sure to have fun prizes for everyone, such as a small goody bag full of interesting toys and playthings. Some ideas for prize bags include Lego figure key chains, small wall balls, a deck of cards, pencils and/or erasers, rubber stamps and pad, and other little and inexpensive things that kids usually love.

And should the weather turn out to be cloudy or rainy, you can bring the scavenger hunt indoors and tweak the hunt to look for items around the house. 

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