The warmer temperatures have all of us yearning to be outdoors. We have the perfect spring activity. Ideal for solo sojourners, or with a partner, friend, or grandchildren.
An outdoor sensory scavenger invites us to take a breath – to mindfully tune into ourselves and the natural world around us. While this activity is written to tap into five senses, it easily can be adapted to those who have fewer.
Allow a half hour or more. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Comfortable, water-proof shoes and proper attire for the weather.
- Three small containers to carry: lemon or lime slices, mini pretzel sticks, chocolate chips
- Hand sanitizer or wipes
- Eyes, nose, ears, fingers, tongue — use the senses that work best for you!
Step 1. Find a nearby natural area: forest, beach, your favorite hiking trail, a park, even your own backyard.
Step 2. Begin walking slowly. If you are with children, talk with them about our senses, how important they are even though we sometimes forget we even have them! Younger children may need an explanation about what these senses are and what parts of our bodies we use to smell, touch, taste, hear, and see.
Step 3. As you are walking, start with the sense of sight. Identify what you see that is alive.
Step 4. Now, focus on your sense of hearing. Stop walking and listen. To the best of your ability, tune out the sounds of traffic, human voices, airplanes, and identify sounds of nature (wind, crunch of leaves under your feet, birds). Can you differentiate bird calls?
Step 5. Next, turn to your sense of smell. Rub a leaf or sand between your fingers. What does it smell like? Notice any scents in the air? If you can find a pinecone, what does it smell like? Grab a handful of dirt and give it a sniff, too!
Step 6. On to our sense of touch. How would you describe how the grass or dirt feels beneath your feet? A rock on your path? A flower petal? How do different leaves feel compared to one another?
Step 7. No, you don’t have to taste a leaf! If you are alone, close your eyes and open one of the containers you brought. With eyes closed, place a small bit of the contents on your tongue. How does it taste? Which tastebuds are activated? Can you identify what you are eating by taste alone? Go on to the next container until you’ve sampled salty, sour and sweet. If you are with others, have the other person/people close their eyes and sample the containers’ contents one by one. Then, it’s your turn. Not strictly about nature, but a fun way to connect with our sense of taste.
Here’s another way to conduct the sensory scavenger hunt. Focusing on natural, not human-made objects, try to identify the following in each sensory category. Or make up your own!
- Something rough
- Something smooth
- Something soft
- Something bumpy
- Something hard
- Something crumbly
- Something yellow
- A shadow
- Something bright
- Something tiny
- Something with a tail
- Something growing
- Something fragrant
- Something unpleasant
- Something fresh
- Something pine-scented
- Leaves rustling
- Birds chirping – any woodpeckers?
- Animals moving
- The wind
TASTE – same as before. Have each person close their eyes and place one snack at a time on their tongues. Can they determine what they are eating by taste alone?