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FREE Winter Scavenger Hunt (with printable list!)

Grab this free printable Winter Scavenger Hunt list and get outside & hunt down clues to explore seasonal changes in nature!

My kids will be the first to tell you that no matter the weather, we get some outdoor time every day.

It’s definitely more of a challenge during Winter — the colder weather and being all bundled up puts a little kink in tree climbing and some of our animal observations but there’s still a LOT you can explore — like doing a winter science experiment to learn how much water is in snow!

Challenge your kids to get outside this week with this free Winter Scavenger Hunt list!  This is a great activity for all ages – preschoolers, big kids & adults – check off the items to learn how much happens during the cold weather!

Winter Scavenger Hunt list - free printable fun outside with clues about changes in nature!

Winter Scavenger Hunt {with FREE printable pdf!}

One of the things I LOVE most about this scavenger hunt is that so many kids think that there’s “not much to see” in the Winter.

Actually, you can see SO much more during the Winter months!

Without leaves on many of the trees, you can easily see who’s scurrying about for food. You can also hear quite a bit more without the leaves rustling.

And if you’re lucky to have snow on the ground, you can also scout out animal tracks too.  We’re including links to some of our favorite winter activities, science terms you can introduce to your kids and affiliate links to books and items we love to have on our scavenger hunts too.

Before you head out on your hunt, we’d like to recommend a few awesome books about fun things you can find in the Winter:

Winter Walk — enjoy an outdoor adventure as a Grandmother takes her grand kids out to explore the hidden gems of winter.  I love the Winter Trivia & additional activities section included in this book!

Over and Under the Snow — is a favorite of ours and part of the amazing Over & Under nature series!  See how various animals spend the winter months whether it’s surviving over the snow and spying on those that live under it.

It’s Winter — perfect for younger children (toddlers and preschoolers) with colorful illustrations and details about how animal life, weather and clothing change with the season.

You can use this scavenger hunt in a few ways —

  • Bring along a pencil and a clipboard and check off the items as you find them.  If you have more than one child going with your, just grab a set of colored pencils and have them each claim a color as their check off the items!
  • Or take along your phone and use this as a guide for a Winter photo scavenger hunt!  This is a little more challenging — taking photos of the various items — so it’s a great fit if you have older kids.  See our Outdoor Photo Scavenger Hunt for kids’ photography skills and lessons.

Outdoor Clues for a Winter Scavenger Hunt with free printable list!

Outdoor Winter Scavenger Hunt Ideas

We included a few ‘easy’ items on the list that you can check off right as you walk out the door — boots, mittens, a hat — a way to encourage (from preschoolers to adults!) everyone to dress for the weather 😉

These first few items should also remind kids they need to look up, down and all around to find the scavenger hunt items.

FREE printable scavenger hunt list for Winter

In winter, there’s not as many colorful nature items to see as there are during other seasons.  Even most of the animals seem to blend in — which makes it a great time to introduce the term “camouflage” to your kids.

But everyone once in a while, you can spot a glimpse of color like these red berries.  Many bushes will still have berries on them after their leaves have fallen so be sure to crouch down and peek in forest and wooded areas.  You could also pair this with the free printable Forest Scavenger Hunt if you’re hiking through the woods!

Winter Scavenger Hunt idea - get outside with this free printable list!

And while you’re looking down, try to find some brown leaves, pine cones and even animal tracks!

Animal tracks are easy to see if you have snow, mud or sand (here’s a guide on How to Find Animal Tracks in Snow).  You’re likely to find them near water or treed areas where they look for food and take shelter during the colder nights.

Winter Scavenger Hunt ideas for preschoolers, elementary kids and even adults

And be sure to impress that you can find more than one item at a time — use those observation skills to the max!  For example, we found snow, bare trees and a bird all in one spot 🙂

If you are able to spy a cardinal or other bird that stays in your area year-round, introduce the idea of ‘migration’ vs ‘adaptation’ to your kids.  Check out these 10 Books about How Animals Prepare for Winter if your kids are interested in the topic too!

Animals such as songbirds and geese will migrate – travel to a warmer climate during the colder months.  Other animals like deer and cardinals will adapt to their current location by growing a warmer coat or feather layer.  And if you have kids who love those feathered creatures, try some of the 15 Bird Activities & Crafts for Kids.

Winter nature scavenger Hunt outside items for kids to find

Printable Winter Scavenger Hunt

I think one of the most challenging things to find on the scavenger hunt is the sun! Most of the days we head outside are cloudy.

And then there are items your kids may be surprised at — things they might not have noticed before like ‘smoke coming from a house’s chimney’.

Plus the one challenge box on the scavenger hunt:  Something you ONLY see in Winter — and don’t let them use ‘snow’, it’s too easy 😉

Push your kids to use their observation skills to go deeper —

maybe ice or icicles?

Or the scarf they are wearing?

Even something like “my breath” since chances are the temps are cold enough that they can see the condensation (water vapor) that’s formed when they exhale.  (if they are intrigued by this, check out these 5 Easy Ways to Teach Kids about Science activities!)

Download your own Winter Scavenger Hunt and enjoy an outdoor adventure together!

More Winter Activities:

Free Printable Indoor Scavenger Hunt (perfect idea when you’re stuck inside!)

33 Fun Things to do with Kids this Winter

50 Free Scavenger Hunts for Kids