Outdoor Activity Ideas for Squirrels - Part 1
Blog written by Susan Smith, Scotland Commissioner (Squirrel Scouts)
Scavenger/Treasure Hunts are a great way for our young people to connect with the outdoors and find out what there is in their local area, looking at wildlife, plants, colours, shapes and bugs.
These are just a few of the Treasure Hunts you could try, or you could make up your own. The activities below can easily be fitted into some of the Squirrels badge work criteria.
Go Wild Activity Badge, Feel Good Activity Badge, Local Hero Activity Badge, Be Active Activity Badge, All Together Challenge Award, All Around Us Challenge Award, All About Adventure Challenge Award.
Sticks – Attach different varieties of twigs to a sheet of card and see if your Squirrels can find the same type? This would need some forward planning to gather sticks from the area you are visiting and to make the cards. Squirrels could work in small teams. Alternatively, explore a local area and see how many different types of sticks and twigs you can find?
Leaves – Leaves could be collected from a local area and again attached to a sheet for the Squirrels to find and identify or you can simply, wherever you are show them a leaf and ask if they can find one the same? This could also be done for size. Who can find a leaf the same size as this one?
Flowers – This activity could be done for wild or garden flowers. Wherever you are going count how many different flowers you see. Or using a pre-printed sheet match the flowers to the pictures. Visit a local garden centre and do the same.
Colours – Using paint sample cards, or pieces of colour card see if you can find something in your local area, woods, nature reserve, park to match them. Give each Squirrel a coloured card and see what they can find or attach a few cards to a sheet of paper and see if they can match them all? This would need some forward planning/preparation as you want to make sure that you have some of the correct colours for where you are visiting.
Wildlife – Look for signs of wildlife in local habitats. There may be footprints, feathers, fur or Poo! Who do you think left them behind?
Bugs – Taking magnifying glasses with you and perhaps some bug viewing pots what can you find under logs and leaf piles? A printed sheet to identify the bugs is a good idea.
Treasure Trail – How many different items can you find while out and about, look for different colours, shapes, sizes and textures.
You can download sheets from the Scottish Wildlife Trusts for similar activities. These sheets are intended for use Scotland wide so may not be suitable for your local area. It is also important for the Squirrels to understand we must not pick or destroy plants or trees that are growing wild, but picking up leaves, twigs, flowers that have already fallen is fine.
You will also need to have some guidelines ready for the size of things the Squirrels can carry, such as, If the stick is taller than you it is too big to carry, I am sure you can imagine that someone will want to carry the whole tree! It can also be a good way to get the Squirrels to work together if something is too big or heavy for one person. Let the Squirrels help with these guidelines, they are more likely to follow them if they have been involved in their implementation.
Also, there may be local wildlife/nature/garden groups in your areas who would be more than willing to help our young people develop a love of nature, some local authorities have wildlife or nature rangers too. Do not be afraid to ask for their input, their help and knowledge can be invaluable.
Find more outdoor inspiration in Part 2.