A hike can be a great adventure and a lot of fun for children of all ages when they are challenged to think about their surroundings. Use some of these activities next time you go on a family hike. They will not only add to the fun but will get your family to thinking and talking together.
Scavenger Hunt • Challenge kids to find items in nature. __Wild Flowers __Dead tree __Pine cone __Berries __Vine __Poison ivy __Stream or creek __Blade of grass __Clover leaf __Moss __Pine tree __Seeds or seed pod __Eroded soil __Smooth/shiny rock __Mud __Grain of sand __Fern __Y-shaped twig __Trash __Pine needles __Acorn or other nuts __Tree with blossoms __Hole in a tree __Dark green leaf __Small pebble __Unusual shaped leaf __Multicolored rock __Dew on a leaf __Fungus on a tree __Animal tracks __Worm __Caterpillar __Squirrel __Bird __Ant __Butterfly or moth __Snail __Beetle __Feather __Lizard __Ladybug __Spider web __Birds nest __Insects on a tree __Deer tracks __Animal hole __Deer __Frog __Leaf with insect holes __Evidence of the presence of animals __Evidence of the presence of people
Engage the Senses • Stop and listen. How many different sounds do you hear in 60 seconds? • Encourage kids to use their hands to explore the textures of nature. Rub your hand on the bark of one tree and compared it to a different looking tree. Let children get their hands dirty on a soft moss-covered log or feel the hard and bumpiness of barnacles (gently). • Smell crushed pine needles or seaweed.
Bring a journal • Bring along a small notebook and a pencil, some markers, crayons or colored pencils. Take a few minutes to sit and observe the natural world. Children have a very different perspective than adults and notice many things that adults simply pass by while hiking. Allow your children time to document their experience through drawing, painting, or written word. These will be meaningful memories they can take home with them.
Be a Nature Detective • A small magnifying glass is always popular with children. This is a great tool to take out when kids are showing signs of tiredness and may need to take a rest stop before continuing down the trail.
ABC Game • Start at the beginning of the alphabet and identify something on trail that begins with “A” then work your way through all the letters in the alphabet.
The Never Ending Story • One person begins to tell a story and then passes it along to another person to continue the plot and so on….This has been proven as a successful way to keep groups of kids hiking together, laughing, and being creative.
Twenty Questions • Think of a noun (person, place, or thing). Then the other hikers ask yes or no questions to figure out what the noun is. The hiker who guesses correctly gets to pick the next noun.
Rainbow Colors • Try to identify things along the trail by the colors of the rainbow. Once you start looking closely for each color you and your kids will be amazed at how many colors are in nature.
Categories • Think of a topic, such as kinds of cereal, animals that live in the forest, types of fruit, etc. • Each person takes a turn to identify something in the category. • This continues to rotate through the group until a hiker cannot think of something or they repeat something that has already been said, then that person is out.
What does your family like to do when on a hike?
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