Learn about your environment with a summer scavenger hunt. Whether you're at a city park, a nature trail, or even you're own backyard, there are interesting creatures and sights all around us! Try one or all three versions of the scavenger hunt below, then read on to learn how animals adapt to city life and ever-changing environments.
What You Need:
What You Do:
Find as many of the items on the list below as you can. Take a photograph or sketch a picture of each one in your nature journal. Keep in mind that what you are able to find will depend on your location. Not everything on the list will be practical for the spot you're scavenging—this list fits best with a wooded forest area with a pond or stream but can be adapted for other locations. Have fun!
Things To See:
Things to Collect:
(Note: if your scavenger hunt location is by an ocean, look for seashells, seaweed, driftwood, and small creatures such as crabs, starfish, or even jellyfish, etc.)
Instructions: The items on this list should be easy to find in a city park. Bring along an empty egg carton to collect your finds. (Note: for kids who aren't able to read yet, try a color scavenger hunt—paint the inside of each cup of an egg carton a different color and let kids collect anything they can find that matches each color.)
1. something green
2. something red
3. something smooth
4. something rough
5. something fuzzy
6. something round
7. something straight
8. something that rattles or makes a sound
9. two different kinds of leaves that are different colors
10. a pinecone
11. a flower
12. a rock with an interesting pattern
Instructions: Using sidewalk chalk, write a list of items for kids to find. Draw a square or circle next to each item where they can place the actual objects as they collect them. Include multiples of objects such as 5 small pebbles, 3 pinecones, 4 yellow flowers, 2 large leaves, etc. Customize the items on the list to include things you know exist in your backyard—some may be easy to spot and others should require a little more scavenging!
Can you think of some animals that live in cities? What kinds of animals have you seen at parks, around stores and buildings, or in your own backyard? Animals including rodents, like mice and squirrels, as well as larger mammals such as raccoons, possums, foxes, and even coyotes have also been known to live in cities.
In addition, a variety of insects and birds live right outside your door. Some spiders, centipedes, and beetles even seem to thrive more inside our homes than they do outside! Most of us consider creepy crawly creatures living in our homes to be pests—from insects and spiders to mice or even birds nesting outside our houses.
Abundance of food that is easy to find is probably what attracts many animals to cities. Food from garbage cans, litter, and crumbs on the street are all fair game where animals are concerned! They can easily find water from ponds or streams in parks or even sprinklers, rain gutters, or swimming pools. There are also plenty of options for finding shelter in the city, especially for animals who have adapted to living close to humans. Lots of animals get used to us when they live in a city and aren't as shy or easily frightened as their cousins who live in the wild. Most will still keep their distance, but know when to stick around if it could benefit them in the form of a meal or a sheltered place to sleep.
All animals, including humans, adapt in certain ways to survive. Since environments can change quickly, it is important for animals to change certain habits in order to keep up with their changing environment. This is particularly true for animals who live in cities. The gray squirrel, house sparrow, starling, and pigeon are among the most common animals who have taken to city life and who have made a few changes to their behavior to adapt to an environment that is different from that of the woods or forests they once occupied.
Raccoons are also a great example of an animal that has adapted to city life by changing certain behaviors to fit in. Rather than nesting in trees as they tend to in the wild, raccoons who live in cities have considered other options for their homes including sheds, crawlspaces, piles of brush, and even abandoned cars. Raccoons are very good at grasping and opening things and can use both their front and hind paws quite well. While a raccoon's diet normally consists of berries, seeds, nuts, fish, and other small animals, they aren't very picky about what they eat, which comes in handy for city-dwelling raccoons who will take what they can find from dumpsters, gardens, or litter on the street.
One way animals are equipped to survive is through camouflage. Many creatures, from insects to chameleons to foxes, use camouflage—they blend in to their surroundings which helps them hide from danger and also gives them an advantage when they are looking for food.
The arctic fox is an animal that uses camouflage quite well. It lives in flat lands that lack many trees. During the winter, an arctic fox has a thick white coat of fur. The white color helps it blend in well with its white snow-covered surroundings. As the snow begins to melt away in the Spring, the fox's coat darkens to a brown or grayish color, which again helps it to blend in with its surroundings of mostly barren tundra with only a few rocks and plants scattered here and there.
Take a look at these photographs to see some other examples of animals exhibiting camouflage.
Way Cool Websites