Nature Kids: Tree Scavenger Hunt
This is the first in a series I'm calling Nature Kids. Exploring nature allows kids to not only have fun, but it also allows them to build observation skills, problem solving skills, and of course a science background.
Nature Kids #1: Tree Scavenger Hunt - A fun way to learn about native trees
Every week Carrie and I participate in a Nature Co-op. I was worried at first because with Carrie's autism I never know how she'll react in different situations. So far participating in this nature activity every week has been a blessing. Each week the group focuses on a different nature theme, but there is an overall goal. By the end of the year, we want the kids (and adults) to be able to identify most of (if not all of) the native trees of Mississippi. The way we are doing that is a Scavenger Hunt! So far we have covered two trees. The fist week the children were sent to find a treasure chest. Inside the treasure chest was a seed pod and a few leaves.
You could see some of the parents smiling because the clues were from one of the most recognizable trees in our state. The children were not as familiar with these clues though so our leader told them that these clues were found on Mississippi's state tree. The group consists of children ages 2-10+ so many children were still not aware, but once one of the older children remembered that the state tree was a Magnolia the search was on. Since there is only one Magnolia tree on the property it was a relatively easy task.
The second week started the same way, but the children were reminded that the treasure chest with the tree clues would be in the tree we learned about last week. The children raced to the Magnolia tree and found the treasure chest filled with tree clues waiting for them there.
Inside the treasure chest, the children found leaves and gumballs from the sweetgum tree. They were given the mission to find a sweetfum tree and retrieve one of the gumballs. Since most of the children are under 10 and relatively short, this required teamwork and cooperation to accomplish.
I can't wait to see what trees we get to learn about next week. So far all the children have participated in this educational activity without really understanding that they are learning.. I think it is a much more natural way to learn about the various trees than sticking with books or a more typical classroom approach - not that there is anything wrong with that. I was a junior high science teacher for part of my career after all. It's a kinthestic learning activity that allows the children to build observational skills and explore their natural surroundings. Incorporating books and other materials with this activity make it a truly meaningful learning opportunity.
Stay tuned as we learn about more trees...
More resources about Trees: