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As winter marches on, kids and adults alike start to get cabin fever. And boredom sets in. We’re all ready to get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air! So if you’re looking for some cold-weather outdoor fun, a winter scavenger hunt is just the thing!
Why do a winter scavenger hunt?
Sure, spending time outdoors in the winter might take a few extra layers, a warm drink, and some snacks. But winter offers beauty and perspective you just can’t get during the warmer seasons!
The trees are bare, and the weeds are dormant. So it’s easy to walk through the woods and notice things you otherwise miss in spring and summer. Everything looks and feels different. The streams and lakes are frozen, there might be snow on the ground, and it’s quiet.
Plus, there’s more to see than you (or your kids) might imagine! And a scavenger hunt will help you look closer and spot things you wouldn’t otherwise notice. For instance, you might see bald eagles, cardinals, animal tracks, berries, pinecones, and more.
Prepare for some winter outdoor fun!
It’s winter, so safety is a priority when you’re heading outdoors! But, as the Norwegian saying goes, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”
Here are some things to take along:
- Layers are a must – they’ll keep you warm and dry! Don’t forget a hat, mittens or gloves, and waterproof shoes or boots.
- Take water along on your scavenger hunt. And you can make it even more fun by taking along a thermos of hot cocoa and some fun snacks.
- A clipboard is handy but not essential. You could also print the scavenger hunt on cardstock, put it in a protective plastic sleeve, or even laminate it!
- A marker, pencil, or pen.
- You might also take your phone (or camera) to photograph your finds!
Winter scavenger hunt for kids
A scavenger hunt is a perfect activity to get kids outdoors in the winter! It’s an excellent alternative to screens and a fun way for them to get exercise and fresh air. Plus, it challenges them to notice their surroundings and inspires curiosity.
You can do the scavenger hunt in a park, the woods, or around your neighborhood! Check off all the items, reach a specific goal (e.g., find eight items), or make it into a “BINGO” game. You can also take photos of found items and even collect some of the objects to take home!
Free printable for kids!
Winter scavenger hunt for adults
The adults get more of a challenge! It’s easier (and more fun!) to head to a park, hiking trail, or wooded area, so you can get out and explore. You can do it alone, on a date, with your family, or with a group of friends! You could even make it a game to see who finds items first (take photos as proof!).
More scavenger hunt ideas
- Make up your own winter scavenger hunt.
- Hold an indoor scavenger hunt.
- Make it a treasure hunt – create a series of clues that lead to the “treasure.”
- Place items outdoors (or indoors) for others to find
- Head out with a group. Everyone has a list, and whoever takes photos of all the items first wins.
- Go geocaching!
- You can make a scavenger hunt for anything: architectural features, signs, landmarks, items, animals, birds, etc.
- Make it more challenging and have participants identify types of trees, leaves, weeds, animal tracks, berries, etc.
- There are lots of scavenger hunt apps for your phone.
If you’re looking for fun reading (and resources) on nature in the winter, check out the books below!
The Kids Winter Handbook
Animals in Winter
Over and Under the Snow
When Winter Comes: Discovering Wildlife in Our Snowy Woods
Exploring Nature Activity Book for Kids: 50 Creative Projects to Spark Curiosity in the Outdoors
There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather: A Scandinavian Mom’s Secrets for Raising Healthy, Resilient, and Confident Kids
Winter Weed Finder: A Guide to Dry Plants in Winter
Winter Tree Finder: A Manual for Identifying Deciduous Trees in Winter
Sibley Backyard Birding Bingo: A Game for Bird Lovers
Midwestern Birds: Backyard Guide
Animal Tracks of the Midwest: Your Way to Easily Identify Animal Tracks