4 Free Outdoor Scavenger Hunts for Kids

Check out these four outdoor scavenger hunt ideas, which range from easy to advanced. Your kids will have fun while learning about nature and the environment.

Two children with branches and flowers
Photo: Dane Tashima

Looking for a fun nature-inspired activity? Consider hosting an outdoor scavenger hunt for kids, which provides the perfect excuse to explore the neighborhood or a local park. Liesl from homeschoolden.com sends her kids on these missions every spring. Here, she shares four outdoor scavenger hunt ideas that will entertain your little ones for hours.

1. Easy Outdoor Scavenger Hunt

Younger kids will love this open-ended scavenger hunt (find something thin, something brown, something brittle, something rough). The clues will teach about colors, textures, and scientific concepts—for example, they need to search for something translucent that “lets the light shine through a bit.”

Download the free printable outdoor scavenger hunt clues from Liesl's blog here.

Easy Outdoor Scavenger Hunt
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2. Educational Outdoor Scavenger Hunt

Older kids can participate in scavenger hunts, too! This particular set of clues focuses on challenging finds, such as onion grass and five different types of leaves. They also have to spot two different types of birds and an animal's home—a natural opportunity to teach about nature, habitats, ecosystems, and local critters! (Note: If you don’t live near a creek or pond, you can block off some of the items from the list, such as a frog, toad, salamander, and water skeeter).

Find the free outdoor scavenger hunt printable here.

Nature Outdoor Scavenger Hunt
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3. Photography Outdoor Scavenger Hunt

If your kids enjoy photography, then check out this outdoor scavenger hunt list that involves taking pictures of various items. The clues range from artsy (an interesting view of the sky) to educational (a gall—the bumpy growth on a plant or tree where insects have laid their eggs).

Lots of the outdoor scavenger hunt riddles can have many different outcomes (for example, “something yellow” could be a dandelion, a leaf, a backyard shed, etc.) so it’ll be interesting to see what your kids come up with.

Download the photography-based outdoor scavenger hunt list here.

Photography Outdoor Scavenger Hunt
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4. Outdoor Treasure Scavenger Hunt

To introduce a technological aspect, Liesl created an Outdoor Treasure Hunt with QR Codes. This is a free app that you can download onto your phone or tablet. Here’s how it works: Mom or Dad prints out the clues and hides the QR code portion accordingly, leaving the first one out to begin the scavenger hunt. For example, the first clue may translate to “check the biggest rock in our yard.” When kids search the rock, they’ll find the second QR code, which they scan to read “check the vegetable garden.” Then they’ll look through the garden to find the third QR code, which translates to “check under the patio chair.” Your kids may need to borrow your phone or tablet for this one, or you can use the text-based version too.

Liesl brainstormed four different QR code scavenger hunts. They include common things around the home and yard (check the swing, check the patio table, check the trash bin, etc.).

Find the printable lists here.

Outdoor Treasure Hunt
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