Sometime between the morning nap and afternoon lull comes a nature sensory hunt. Late morning has me (and the boys) yearning to get outside. It is before the extreme heat in the summer and the perfect time for spring. This sensory nature hunt is exactly what you need when you have kids at home all year.
Why? Because nature is constantly changing. – No two (or 30) outdoor sensory hunts will be the same. Brilliant.
Why this is a great kid activity
Are we stopping to smell the roses as we race to the car for soccer practice? Probably not. Somewhere between tying cleats on chubby feet and grabbing car keys, we forget to slow down. I get it.
Fortunately, just like mystery leaf rubbings, sensory nature hunt helps everyone see what’s happening in our space. When I saw this idea from Tara at Little Pine Learners, I knew it would be a home run.
If you live in the city, you can still make this easy nature sticky board and try it with items in your home or on a walk. There are endless possibilities.
RELATED: Yahoooooo! It is finally time for outdoor activities for kids. These ideas are everything we have done over the last five years at home with kids.
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Why is outdoor sensory play important?
We learned from The Importance of Sensory Play that introducing and reviewing textures is crucial to deep learning.
We also know that children are researchers in their environment. Heading outdoors for sensory play stimulates so much more than one sense.
Outside, kids take in the sights and smells and listen as they learn. Think of all that magic happening with one simple idea!
RELATED: Add sensory play to your daily routine with these 40 sensory bin ideas.
This sensory activity is a walking art project
As my preschoolers roamed the front yard, I quickly realized this was more than me just getting a chance to catch my breath. Like water play and jello washing (yes, that is a thing), this activity won many awards.
As the boys collected, they also studied the little details within the hydrangea, talked about how different trees felt, and carefully added nature to create a beautiful collage.
You guessed it. When they completed their sensory hunt, they proudly hung the boards on their bedroom walls.
RELATED: Overwhelmed with how to set up a sensory bin? I wrote this how-to guide for sensory play to help.
Yep, still talking about how great this hunt is
Do you feel me gushing about this simple activity here? Because this outdoor sensory nature hunt is the bomb. (people still say that, right?)
After you scavage the cardboard from the recycling bin, it is time to wrap it in contact paper.
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It is an unproven fact that kids love to stick things on contact paper. Did I make that up? Yes, but I assure you that you will also find it true.
QUICK TIP! Before your contact paper arrives in your Amazon cart, start with the outdoor color hunt. This is another easy activity that will get everyone outside and searching.
How to set up nature sensory boards.
- Find a piece of cardboard. Diving into the recycling board is allowed and encouraged.
- Roll out contact paper with the sticky side up.
- Tape the nonstick side of contact paper to the back of the cardboard nature board.
- Invite your child to take a tour and find items to stick on the nature collage.
Alright, you are all set to go! When will you go on a sensory nature hunt with kids?
Who has time to search for ideas?
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I’ve collected a combination of ideas from friends that have created some really cool preschool scavenger hunts. I divided the searches into four categories; color hunts, letters/numbers hunts, outdoor scavenger hunts, and others (really cool ideas that needed a category of their own). Dive into these 30 scavenger hunts for kids.
1. Think about what your child enjoys.
2. Think about what you already have around that enjoyment.
3. Make a list of what you find. Pictures help!
4. Hide objects around the house.
5. Invite your child to hunt to find each item.
Spending time outside lightens the mood and allows children to exercise their minds and body. These are our favorite outdoor toys for kids.