It’s officially spring, and what better time to get outside and start noticing your surroundings! As winter melts into spring, there are many subtle changes we can begin to take note of. Do you notice any new smells? What birds and other animals might you hear? You might even find some green plant life starting to grow!

Make it even more fun and engaging with a scavenger hunt! Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Before you even go outside, start a conversation about the signs of spring that you might notice.
  • Draw a chart or make a list of some of the things you’d expect to see or would like to see, and your child will be more invested in the search. It’s ok if your child comes up with ideas that you’d be unlikely to find. Later, you can wonder why you didn’t see a butterfly, for example (maybe because there aren’t any flowers blooming yet and the butterfly would not have nectar to drink).
  • Don’t worry if you do not have all of the answers- you do not need to be an expert at identifying trees or bird calls! This can be a great opportunity to learn together. When you return you can investigate together what type of bird or plant you saw, using your observational skills to recall what it looked like.
  • Bring a field guide along with you, if you have access to one. Or, download one of the following apps that can help you in identifying what you find.
    • Suggested apps: Plant Snap; LeafSnap; Flower Checker; eBird; iNaturalist; iTrackWildlife; and more!
  • If you prefer a little more guidance, you can find many free downloadable scavenger hunts online. Some suggested sites include:

Remember, it’s the observation and inquiry process you are nurturing that’s most important. And you’re fostering future stewards by encouraging their enthusiasm in and with nature!

The Minnesota Zoo would love to see examples of how you used this activity at home! Please share pictures or comments via email at [email protected], and take less than 5 minutes of time to provide us feedback by completing this short survey.