Cooks River Nature Scavenger Hunt

UPDATE: I’ve added one of our previous hunts as an attachment at the end of the post below so now you can do the hunt too!

Easily one of my favourite activities I’ve run with Sydney Creative Play is our “Nature Scavenger Hunt” series, which we ran a few different times as school holiday programs.

The Cooks River is actually what inspired me to start our Canterbury playgroup. There are so many beautiful parts to it and when I lived in the area I’d often go walking or biking along the trail and hardly see anyone taking advantage of the scenery during the week. So I wanted to make sure that our playgroup utilised the environment.

Each scavenger hunt we ran began the same way, with meeting in the warehouse or adjacent reserve where each child would be given a bag containing everything they’d need for the hunt: a checklist, pencil and customised map of the area (so parents knew how far along to walk).

We played on the honour system, ticking items off as we found them. I suggested parents could take photos of what they found or collect items at their discretion. (My own rule of thumb with my kids is we can collect things that are no longer growing like leaves or flowers that have fallen, or things that grown in abundance like dandelions or clovers.)

Creating the checklist required me to do a bit of prep work to take photos and create the sheets, but it was good fun. The kids would go off with their parents/carers to explore and we had an agreed-upon time to meet back up. At the end of the hunt all the kids got a sheet of stickers for their efforts.

The second time we ran this scavenger hunt it was during the January school holidays and quite hot so we met back at the warehouse for a story that we incorporated into the activity.

I read the classic “Wombat Stew” and this time each of the bags also had a “bonus item” to find. Some were asked to collect gumnuts, some were to find “something crunchy”, etc – all to be ingredients in our wombat stew. Up at the front with me I’d prepared a bucket of water and as we read the story I invited the kids up to put their ingredients in and help stir it up.

It was a fun way to conclude the event and books are always a great way to tie in a theme. I love building workshops around them.

I always ended up staying at the “home base” during the hunts we did so I never got to actually see and hear what the kids were getting up to. One of our volunteers snapped this photo below though and it made me so happy to see so many families out exploring the river together!

If you’d like to do your own Cooks River Scavenger Hunt, you can download and print the materials below (pdf format). Note that the photos were taken in January 2017 (in the area surrounding Canterbury Road) so it’s possible certain plants may not be in bloom or still in the area.

Cooks River Scavenger Hunt

Area Map

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