You will need
- Pens or pencils
- A4 paper
- Scavenger hunt sheets
- Spotter sheets and/or devices with nature ID apps
- Magnifying glasses and binoculars (optional)
- A map or plan of a local green space (optional)
Before you begin
- This is a great activity to explore local biodiversity; it’ll help everyone start to think about how they could take action to support biodiversity for their Community Impact Staged Activity Badge. You could play Web of life to introduce the topic of biodiversity.
- Choose an appropriate outdoor area such as a nature reserve, woodland area, canal, or park. If you’re going to meet there (rather than at your usual meeting place), make sure parents and carers know exactly where you’ll be, and what time to drop off and collect everyone.
- The Woodland Trust’s nature detectives spotter sheets can help you identify all sorts of local wildlife. Take a look at their spotter sheets for trees, plants and fungi, and animals.
- Alternatively, there are plenty of free apps available. There’s the Seek app from iNaturalist, which uses the camera on your device to help you identify plants, animals and trees. Or, for trees, there’s the Woodland Trust Tree ID app. These apps are designed to be family-friendly and can be used without registering or setting up an account.
- Create a scavenger hunt that your group will love. We’ve included some examples of things you might like to include below.
Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Additional coronavirus-related controls to think about may include:
- Set up a hand washing station that you can use throughout the session.
- Make sure people wash their hands before and after using any shared equipment or resources.
- Clean any equipment between different people using it.
- Remind everyone to stay a safe distance apart at all times. If it works better for you, people could do this activity individually, rather than in pairs or small groups. The activity could even be done at home (with support from an adult) – everyone could share their findings at your next meeting.
- Print enough scavenger sheets for everyone to have a copy, so they don’t need to share the same piece of paper.
- Everyone should gather at the agreed place.
- An adult should explain any specific safety arrangements for the activity.
- The person leading the activity should explain that there are lots of different forms of life waiting to be discovered. People might not spot them immediately, but they’re all around them.
- Everyone should stay where they are and close or cover their eyes to help them focus on using their other senses. What can they hear? What can they smell?
- Everyone should agree some ground rules for the activity, to make sure their visit doesn’t harm or damage the environment.
- Everyone should split into pairs or small groups.
- The person leading the activity should give everyone a scavenger hunt sheets and a pencil or pen. They should explain that the challenge is to find everything on the list. Everyone should write or draw what they find and try to identify exactly what it is.
- The person leading the activity should show everyone any resources that they can use to help them identify the wonderful wildlife they’ll discover.
- The person leading the activity should remind everyone about the boundaries for the hunt, including how far everyone’s allowed to explore and how long they’ve got.
Time to explore
- Everyone should set off for their scavenger hunt.
- At the end, everyone should gather together. Once everyone’s washed their hands, everyone should take it in turns to share their discoveries. What was everyone’s favourite find? Did they learn something new?
- The person leading the activity should remind everyone that biodiversity’s all about the variety of living things, on a local and global scale. They could remind everyone that WWF talk about biodiversity as ‘the magic ingredient that enables the world to work smoothly’.
- Everyone should talk about why biodiversity is important. What can people do to support biodiversity? Does anyone know about any species that are struggling and need help? Bees are a good example.
What did it feel like spending time outdoors in nature? What was it like seeing all of the different types of life? What would it feel like if we didn’t have all of this variety to enjoy?
- Animals and insects
Be aware of the risks before interacting with animals. Be aware of anyone with allergies, and make alternative arrangements for them.
- Outdoor activities
You must have permission to use the location. Always check the weather forecast and inform parents and carers of any change in venue.
- Online safety
Supervise young people when they’re online and give them advice about staying safe.
For more support around online safety or bullying, check out the NSPCC website. If you want to know more about specific social networks and games, Childnet has information and safety tips for apps. You can also report anything that’s worried you online to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection command.
As always, if you’ve got concerns about a young person’s welfare (including their online experiences), follow the Yellow Card reporting processes.