Observation Nature Walk

Nature walks can be a powerful tool for teaching your students the power of observation. Find a nature trail near your school, and place 10-12 items along the trail. Then, you can take your students on the nature walk and ask them to find the items. I give ideas for how to execute this activity inside this post, so check it out now!

Here is a fun way for students (or campers, scouts, or whatever you have) to test their powers of observation while enjoying nature. A nature walk is also a great way to introduce the concept of camouflage. To do this activity, you will need a short stretch of trail in the woods, ideally one that is not used a great deal – a couple hundred feet is fine.

First, collect 10 to 12 small, everyday objects that are not found in nature, such as a pencil, a toy car, a Lego, a shoelace, etc.

Before the activity distribute the objects along the trail that you have picked out. The objects should all be in plain sight from the trail but not necessarily easy to see. Some can be on the ground but consider trees, bushes and rocks as well.

Tell your students about the objects and how many you have hidden. Their job will be to quietly and slowly walk along the trail to see how many they can spot. No talking or pointing. There are several ways to do this:

  • The easiest is just to have them count the objects as they spot them (silently).
  • Another possibility is to distribute clipboards and have them write down the objects as they see them.
  • If you are willing to do a little extra prep, then you could distribute a checklist of the items, and have students check them off as they see them. Make sure they are not in order!
After your students have completed the nature walk, have a discussion about what they saw.
  • Which objects were easy to spot? Why?
  • Which ones were difficult to spot? Why?
  • What strategies did students use for spotting the items?
  • How did it feel to concentrate so hard on looking for the objects?
Students can gather up the objects when you are done. If you have extra time, then you could try it again with the same objects in different places, perhaps letting a pair of students place the objects.
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