The house was full of kids playing but I wanted to get them outside and into the woods for a walk. What do you do? I put together an Autumn / Fall Scavenger Hunt Sheet for them. It’s the best way to get them exploring the woods while actually noticing nature. We’re lucky as we live in a small valley surrounded by woods in West Sussex, England. (Note – I’ve written Autumn / Fall throughout the post not only because I’m a mum and a mom but because I have I have an even amount of US and UK readers!)
It was early Autumn / Fall so my aim was for them to spot the changes of the season and any signs of wildlife as we went on our Autumn / Fall scavenger walk in the woods. Each was given a spotter sheet, a crayon and a bag for their treasures.
I made two mistakes on our expedition. The first was that I printed out the spotter sheets just before we left the house: I didn’t have enough time to put new ink cartridges in the printer so the photos on the sheet were very yellow. Nevermind the kids didn’t care. The second was that I forgot to bring clipboards so they had to find tree trunks and other surfaces to write on their sheets.
A4 Size *** DOWNLOAD HERE: Autumn Scavenger Walk Woods Spotter Sheet A4***
Letter Size*** DOWNLOAD HERE: FALL SCAVENGER WALK IN THE WOODS LETTER SIZE***
And it worked! Soon the four of them were looking at the woodlands floor, staring up at the tree tops, searching for signs of wildlife and spotting what was growing or dying. So what did they search for and spot? My scavenger sheet included the following lists and questions:
- Cones – How many different shapes can you find?
- Nuts – How many different types of nuts can you find? Have any of the nuts been chewed?
- Acorns – Can you find an oak tree? Draw the shape of an oak leaf.
- Leaves – Find 5 different shapes. Are any leaves still green?
Soon they were scouring the ground for nuts and cones. They also found an oak tree when they spotted some acorns on the ground near it. None of them searched for leaves during the hunt so I’ll probably organise another outing in late Autumn /Fall just focusing on leaves.
Wildlife and Small Woodlands Creatures
- Tracks – Can you find any animal tracks?
- Feathers – Can you find any bird feathers?
- Spider Webs – Can you spot any spider webs?
- Bird nest – Can you find any birds’ nests?
- Opening at bottom of tree – Can you find a hole for an animal to live in?
- Hole in tree trunk – Are there any nuts on the ground below?
There was great excitement when we entered the woods and all four started following deer tracks on a muddy path through the trees! As we walked along a woodland trail they kept pointing out holes on tree trunks and at the bottom of trunks while speculating what animal might live in them. They even checked if any nuts had been left by the ‘entrance’ of these holes.
Then there was huge excitement when they came into an area with shrubs and trees where there was a big web with a spider dangling on its edge. Suddenly they were searching and finding other webs nearby and at the same time each calling out to me to come and have a look!
We have a fantastic book at home to help us identify any little creatures we see in the woods. Have a look at my review here – we love it!
Probably because the tree canopy was still quite lush and thick, we didn’t spot any bird’s nests. When the leaves start falling off they should become more visible. Later they all found a bunch of little feathers near a shallow stream and an owl’s feather as we left the woods.
Plants and Fungi
- Fungus – Can you find mushrooms on the ground? Can you spot a fungus growing on a tree trunk?
- Plants – Are there any ferns left in the woods? Spot any wild flowers?
The only wild flowers we found were some Herb Roberts near the start of the trail.
Fungi, on the other hand, were everywhere. Of course I told them not to pick or touch any of them. Last year I took Luce and Theo on a mushroom hunt in the woods and gave them the same instructions. When I recently went on a foray for mushrooms I was accompanied by an expert who gave lots of tips.
My twins and their friends were soon having an adventure by following a shallow stream in the woods. I loved it when the girls told me they both wanted to be explorers when they grew up.
Eventually I had to insist that it was time to go back home as it was lunch time. None of them wanted to leave the woods.
Another fun scavenger hunt in the woods is to give them no list but just ask them to collect what they think is special. It’s rather fascinating to see what each chooses as treasure!
I didn’t make it a competition on who spotted the most in the Autumn / Fall Scavenger Hunt sheet. I just wanted them to enjoy the walk and be aware of nature and the wildlife that lived in the woods. It worked perfectly.
You can find lots more ideas for scavenger hunts and nature walks with kids on many of my Pinterest boards!