Scavenger Hunts & Observation Walks
- A scavenger hunt is a fun way to practise observation
- Collecting objects, living or non-living, is prohibited in all
parks including Fish Creek Provincial Park.
- Instead of collecting items, have your groups
- Check items off the scavenger hunt list OR
- Draw the items OR
- Write a few words about each item
Tips For A Successful Scavenger
- Visit the area before you make the list to see what natural
objects are there. Ensure the area is free of most natural
hazards (like stinging nettles, eroded banks).
- Put some easy items on the list so all groups experience some
- Divide your youth group into smaller groups of four. This gives
all participants a better opportunity to contribute.
- Make sure the groups are divided evenly in terms of age and
- Emphasize sharing, cooperation and teamwork.
- Clearly define the hunt area boundaries.
- Give the groups a time limit. Explain the signal that
indicates the game is over and they are to return to the starting
point. A whistle works well as a signal.
- Send an adult to supervise and help each group.
- When the hunt is over, give the youth time to discuss and share
Suggestions For Themes
- Concepts such as adaptations or camouflage.
List colours and markings. Examples - pale
yellow; more than two colours; spotted; striped.
- Sensory experiences. Focus on just one sense
or all them except taste. Examples - cool; warm; damp; dry;
hairy; smooth; rough; waxy.
- Characteristics of animals or plants. Focus
on observation not identification. Examples - prickly plant; hairy
leaf; spotted leaf; a seed; leaf with jagged edges; plant part
eaten by insects; something a deer might eat; something a bird
might use to build a nest.
- Walk the trails in the area prior to bringing your group to the
- Look for animal shelters and food sources for animals
found in Fish Creek Provincial Park. Note the locations.
- If you find lots of examples, narrow the list to one theme. It
could be shelter or food, birds or mammals, for example.
- Sketch, trace or cut out pictures of the animals that are
connected to the objects chosen for the observation walk.
- Walk your group along the trail.
- Stop at each of your selected objects. Show the animal
picture. Ask the youth to find its shelter (or food,
depending on your theme.)
- An easier method for younger children is to show them three
animal pictures. Have them guess which animal would use the
shelter or food. For very young children, you could include
pictures of animals that do not live in the park (like
- Nests - birds
- Nests - squirrels (ball shaped, against tree trunk)
- Holes in trunks - made by birds, squirrels may be using
- Tiny holes in bark - insects
- Rolled up leaves - insects
- Very low hanging evergreen branches - snowshoe hares
- Holes - ground squirrels
- Dirt mounds - pocket gophers (mounds are evidence of their
- Under rocks or bark - insects, slugs and other
- Ant hills
Flattened plants or depressions in
- Bedding down spot for deer or coyote
- Lodge - beaver
- Nests - redwinged blackbird, up in tall plants
- Nests - ducks, water level, among reeds and other plants
For many species, diets change with the season.
- Seeds - birds, mice, meadow voles
- Twig ends - deer (ragged end) snowshoe hares (clean-cut
- Bark - mice, beaver, porcupine
- Insects - birds (e.g. woodpeckers, nuthatches,
- Berries - birds (e.g. grouse, waxwings, coyotes)
- Cones - squirrels
- Mushrooms - mice, voles, squirrels
- Gnawed bones or antlers - mice, voles, squirrels,
- Green plants - summer diet for all herbivores
- Bingo cards are a fun way to record information when doing
scavenger hunts or observation walks.
- Print off bingo cards.
- Distribute the bingo cards. Explain if youth are to check off
items, draw them or write a description about them in the
- Clarify if "bingo" is all four corners, two straight lines or a