Nature Crafts, Hikes and Other Activities

Wow!! Thanks a ton to Terry Sanders, who put together this great compilation of nature-oriented activities. Thanks as well to all the dedicated Guiders and Girl Scouts on the WAGGGS-L Mailing List, who sent their ideas in to Terry.

Don't forget to come check out my Great Games Page, where I've stashed a number of Nature Games from Terry's compilation on my Ecological Games Page!


Nature Crafts
Nature Hikes
Other Activities

Nature Crafts

Here are some easy craft ideas:

Leaf Printing

1. Collect leaves from the yard or local woods
2. There are two ways of making leaf prints:
(a) Press leaf onto an ink pad and then press onto a piece of paper.
(b) Place leaf under a piece of paper and then rub a crayon over the top of the paper.

Nature Pictures: Have the girls take Polaroid pictures of nature. A variation might be to have them draw things in nature.

Nature on a Penny: Put a small piece of modeling clay on a penny. Select small items from nature and create an arrangement.

Pine Cone Bird Feeders

1. Take a pine cone and tie a piece of string or yarn around the top.
2. Coat the pine cone with peanut butter.
3. Roll the pine cone in bird seed -- pat the seed into the peanut butter.
4. Hang in a tree for our feathered friends to enjoy!

Sand Masks: Have the girls find a spot in the sand and scrape a shallow hole about 8" in diameter. Then the girls get to go beach-combing for things they could use to fill the mask in, such as for eyes, nose, mouth, hair, etc. Feathers worked well for numerous things. When the girls have all their findings in place (pushed slightly into the bottom of their hole), gently add plaster of paris inside the mask. A short piece of cord can be inserted at the top of the mask to be used as a hanging loop. The masks need about 30 to 60 min. to firm up enough to pull them out of the sand.

Sun Print: Lay a piece of dark colored paper in the sun for each person. Lay objects on it (leaves, feathers, twigs, etc.). The sun will bleach lighter where there is no object.

Nature Hikes

ABC Hike: Unit divides into groups which attempt to find natural objects beginning with each letter of the alphabet. The group finding the most wins.

Animal Stories: The girls follow a map to meet up with different animals that are indigenous to the area. When they reach the location of a particular animal (preferably in its natural habitat) they spent some time listening to the animal's story and asking questions before moving on to the next animal. The 'animals' can be adult volunteers or older girls, dressed up in costumes. Each volunteer is given information on their particular animal to relate to the girls.

Back to Back: Gather items found on the ground near the campsite, such as rocks, sticks, or leaves. Pair the girls up and have them stand back to back. Give one girl an item and have them describe it to their partner. The partner guesses what the item is.

Blind Hike: Blindfold the girls or have them close their eyes. Have them form a line, holding hands. Lead them on a hike. They cannot talk while hiking, but they can find other ways to communicate if they need to step over something or around something. Have them listen to things they would not hear if they were talking.

Catch a Raindrop: As you hike along in the rain, catch a "drop" of rain water in your hands and taste it. Walk along with your tongue stuck out to get a taste of rain water.

Color Swatches: Cut small squares of construction paper and hook them together. Give each girl a set of color swatches to use during a walk. They should try to find something in nature to match the colors. After the walk, talk about what each person found for the different colors.

Crayon Hike: Have each girl select 3 or more crayons from a box. Take a hike and try to find as many things that match the color of the crayons as possible.

Drippy Walk: Take a walk during a rain and explore different smells, colors, and tastes. Look for animals that like the rain and places where soil is eroding. Discuss with the girls ideas on how to prevent soil from eroding.

Friends: On a hike, girls find a leaf, a rock, a stick or a pine cone--something that can be their friend. After the hike, have each girl share why she chose that object to be her friend.

Gathering Hike: Take the girls on a hike, having them gather items they find on the ground. When they get back to the campsite, have them glue the items to paper to make a collage.

Images: You will need leaves, rocks, etc. In a circle, pass around an object. As each girl sees it, she says something different than anyone has said about the object. When object has been seen by all, it is returned to its natural world.

Magnifying Hike: Give each girl a 3' piece of string and an inexpensive magnifying glass. Have girls put their string over an area. Tell them to pretend they are the size of ants. They must crawl on their bellies to view their own special area. Ask questions: What kind of wood are you traveling through? Who are your neighbors? What is the spider going to do? Eat you or take you for a ride? Ask any fun, thought provoking questions girls can enjoy.

Meet a Tree: Pair the girls off by two. One girl is blindfolded and her partner leads her to a tree. The partner helps the "blind" child to explore her tree and to feel its uniqueness. Specific suggestions are best. For example, can you put your arms around the tree? Is the tree still living? Animal signs where branches have been? When the blindfolded girl is finished exploring, her partner leads her back to the starting point by an indirect route. Remove the blindfold and let the girl try to find her tree.

Monogram Walk: On a hike have each girl see, hear, touch or smell objects that begin with the initials of her name. After the walk, have girls share what they found.

One Hundred Inch Walk: Assign each group of two or three girls a plot of land about 100 inches square (10" x 10"). Have them spend at least 10 minutes doing an intensive exploration and writing down what they found in their 100" area. Try to pick an area that will have a variety of conditions (ant hill, plant variety, a tree, etc.)

Onion Hike: You will need some onions. One group rubs onions on trees to indicate the trail for another group. The second group follows the trail by sniffing around!

Pass It Back: On a hike, the leader picks up several objects. Objects are then passed back down the line of hikers for all to see. The last person then places the object on the ground.

Penny Hike: Give each girl a penny. Have them go on a hike and find items that will fit on a penny. Remind them not pick anything that is alive.

Rain Scents: Walk out into a nearby area while it is raining. As you walk along, take a deep breath and smell the rain; get very nosey. Breathe in as deeply as you can, then let your breath out slowly. What kinds of smells can you find on the breezes?

Sharing Walk: You will need a number of blindfolds. Divide girls into pairs. One person will wear the blindfold, the other will be the guide. Discuss safety rules. In silence, the guides take their partner on a local hike, hearing, smelling, feeling nature. After 5 minutes, switch. Have girls share after all have had a turn.

Sketching Walk: You will need crayons and paper for each girl. Decide on a destination and upon arrival pass out paper and crayons and let girls draw what they see. When you get back, have an art exhibit.

Smell Rain Tree: Have everyone put on rain gear and head for an open area in the rain. Have girls become trees by taking off their hoods, hold their bare arms out and let the rain fall on their faces. Have them sway as the wind blows. Share how they feel about the experience.

String Nature Hike: Divide the girls into pairs. Give each pair a piece of string 6 to 8 inches long. The first girl takes the string and tosses it to the ground then proceeds to take the other girl on a tour along the string.

Symphony: Make a fist with each hand. Right hand will count sounds of nature; left hand will count sounds made by mankind. Talk about the sounds you might hear, then with silence have girls listen and count. After a minute have girls share what they heard.

Treasure Hunt: You will need paper and pencils. Make a list of things to see. Send two patrols off in opposite directions to see which can find them all first.

Walking in the Woods Game: Teach the girls how to walk quietly in the woods by taking steps going from the outside of the foot to the inside, slowly. Have them practice while they are on the hike. When you reach an area that has a lot of forest floor litter (twigs and old leaves are great), but is open enough to move around in, you can play a game using the technique to move quietly. One person is chosen to be a sleeping animal, and one person is a referee. Everyone else spreads out in a circle then tries to sneak up on the animal. As the animal hears a noise she can point towards it (without opening her eyes) and the referee determines whether the animal has heard someone sneaking up on them. The caught 'sneaker' sits down in place and is out of the game. The game continues until either the animal has caught all its predators or until a predator has caught the animal by getting close enough to tag it. At first the girls will give themselves away by either moving noisily or giggling. But as you repeat it, they will improve and the animal will get caught. It leaves a great impression on the girls and future hikes will provide more nature experiences as the girls learn the importance of hiking quietly.

MORE Nature Hikes!

Thanks very much to Julie Thomson, who posted these hike ideas to the Guiding Mailing List! Julie learned about these activities at the Outdoor Activities for Brownies & Guides session at the West Kootenai Collection Training. The sessions' facilitator was Deyanne Davies.

Egg Carton Walk: Give each girl an egg carton to carry during the walk. In the bottom of each egg cup, have a description (i.e. hard, smooth, rough, etc.). The girls collect items along the way, then compare at the end. They can take their souvenirs home as a reminder of their outdoor experiences.

Name Walk: Walk in a line with your hands on the shoulders of the girl ahead of you. Each girl must find something that begins with the first letter of her name, and call it out.

Scent Walk: Buy inexpensive sponges (all the same colour) and cut them into small squares. Soak equal numbers of squares in different scents (eg. 6 vanilla, 6 mint, 6 soy sauce, etc). Each patrol will have a specific scent. Have the older girls lay trails for each patrol - use trail signs with a scented square at each sign. This way, when the patrols follow their trail, they can smell the sponge to make sure that they are going the right way!

Un-Nature Walk: Plant 15-20 man-made items along the trail (they could all be items relating to a theme). Have the girls work in pairs, leaving a few minutes between groups. The girls are not to disturb the items, just write down what they see.

Unusual Object Walk: Give each girl a bag to place an unusual object in during the walk. At the end, compare objects - anything that is the same as what someone else has is disqualified. The most unusual objects win!

Other Nature Activities

Big Foot: You will need some paper towels. Find a big mud hole where everyone can leave their footprints. Have each girl make their footprints in the mud, then come back in a couple days to see them or take a plaster cast of them.

Circle Exploration: Divide the group into smaller groups of 3-4. Each group gets a circle of string or yard about 12-14" in diameter, a pencil and a clipboard with paper. The group should lay their circle down on the ground, and one group member documents everything they find within their circle. If they can identify the different plants or insects, etc., great, but it's also O.K. to just describe them. Then the group should take their circle to a different type of ground, i.e. if they were in grass, move to dirt, or from under trees to out in a meadow, etc. They will see that different things live in different places. Another way to do this activity is to have them document the occupants of the circle at different times of day.

Cloud Pictures: Have the girls lie quietly on their backs and watch the clouds go by. See what the girls see in the clouds. Look at the rain clouds. How do they look? What color are they? How does the sky make you feel on a rainy day? Describe what you SEE in the clouds. What do they look like? Find pictures in the clouds to show each other.

Get Nosey: Take a sniff of any wet surface around: rocks, leaves, bark, pine needles, dirt, etc. How does something wet smell different? Share a smell that you like with a friend. Then come back together and tell about the rain smells.

Habitat Survey: To find out whether insects can live in different places, you can do a habitat survey. A habitat is the natural home of a plant or animal. Take a notebook and pencil and write down the a different places you can look in. Start with these; in the area, in long grass, in short grass, in trees or bushes, under rocks, in water, on plants, in dead leaves, in soil, in dead wood.

Insect Dances: Watch insects in flight or on water, and make up a dance or play about them.

Leaf Litter: When dead leaves collect under a tree, they form what is known as leaf litter. Find out what lives in the leaf litter or soil beneath your tree. Here are some creatures you might find: Millipedes, spiders, wood lice, daddy-longlegs, springtails. They help to decompose the leaves and twigs that fall off your tree.

Leaf Slides: You will need some heavy paper, scissors, and tape. Gather leaves large enough to fill a 1" square. Cut heavy paper into pieces 6"x 9", fold in half, cut a 1" square in the center of both layers, number the slide in corner. Insert leaf in slide, tape open ends. Share slides with group.

Pond Viewers

1. Take a plastic milk jug and cut off the bottom and top (leaving the handle and the sides of the jug).
2. Take a piece of plastic wrap and duct tape and tape the plastic wrap to the bottom of the jug. Seal the plastic all around the milk jug with duct tape. To use the pond viewer, you hold the bottom of the viewer just under the water. The viewer will cut the glare so that you can see the bottom of the pond and the plastic will slightly magnify.

Seed Germination

You will need some beans, a clear plastic cup or a small jar, sheets of blotting paper or paper towels.

1. Line the jar or plastic cups with blotting paper or paper towels.
2. Push 1 or 2 beans down between the paper and the glass. Position each bean about 1 inch from the bottom.
3. Wet the paper so that it is thoroughly moistened (but do not over-water) and leave a pool in the bottom of the jar.
4. Place a jar in a warm room with plenty of light. Keep an eye on the paper to ensure that it does not dry out.
5. As the seeds absorb water, they will swell up. After a day or two, the outer coat of the seed will split as the small root appears. The root will gradually grow downward.
6. After another day or two, a fluffy mass appears at the base of the root. These fine strands are the thousands of root tip hairs that help the root absorb moisture.
7. Eventually a shoot with small leaves will grow upward. The leaves will be creamy yellow until they have been exposed to the light for a while, then they will turn green.
8. Make two cups and beans. Have some grow in light and one germinate in the dark and one in the light. Compare the different rates of growth and color.

Squish It: While on the ground, feel clumps of grass, get a hunk of mud, roll it into a ball, feel it and squish it, make a snake or some other friend out of the ball of mud. Save it to take back to camp, put it in the sun to bake.

Strawberry Box Wild Garden: You will need a strawberry box, wax paper, and earth from a wooded area. Line strawberry box with wax paper, pierced in several places. Fill the box with the earth. Water gently each day and see what comes up.

Sundial: Put a long stick in the ground (at least 1 foot in length). Each hour put a rock or push a stick in the ground at the tip of the first stick's shadow.

Track Traps: Spread soft sand, raked clean, in a circle about a yard across. Place food scraps in the center after lunch. In the morning, see what came to get them.

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