Nature Tally – A Game for a Winter Walk

24 Dec

At this time of year the drizzle, pelting rain and greyness can make a walk seem pretty unappealing to kids and adults alike.  However, having been cooped up for the whole the day before we felt a tramp in the fresh air was necessary.  The rain had abated but it was far from a crisp mid-winter day. The kids were not convinced so I thought a game might fuel their enthusiasm. Nature Bingo is great but my kids have played it a lot, so I thought a variation was in order and thus Nature Tally was born!

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I quickly drew a list of things that might be spotted on our walk.  Assigned each a points score and a column for tallying up the number of each thing spotted.  Things that are easy to spot get less points, harder more points.

You can spot as many of them as you like, we spotted about 15 holly trees.

The final twist was that we worked in teams, 1 kid, 1 adult in each team.  You had to be a bit subtle if you spotted something so the other team didn’t see it straight away – all part of the fun of course.

If you know the place you are planning to walk in you can tailor the list of spots, for instance if you are near a river you might include water birds, in a wet woodland – some different types of fungi etc, etc.

It is very simple but it does help to engage the kids in the walk  and the element of competition adds a frisson of excitement. (Oooh)

For inspiration here is a list of mid-winter spots you could include and suggested points:

  • Misletoe    15 points
  • Birds nests in tree   15 points
  • Holly tree   5 points
  • Berries   10 points
  • Holly berries   15 points (per tree)
  • Robin   10 points
  • Magpie   10 points
  • Birds flying in V formation   20 points
  • Stream   15 points
  • Fungus   10 points (per clump)
  • Catkins   10 points (per tree)
  • Buds on trees    2 points (per tree)
  • Spiderweb   15 points
  • Tree struck by lightning   20 points

The list is far from exhaustive, each time you go out you will notice things that you could add next time.

Your kids may enjoy the incentive  of a small prize or they may be happy simply with the kudos of being the ‘winner’. You know your kids best and as always you can tailor and tweak as you go along! For older children make the spots a bit more technically challenging, for instance can they identify tree species by bark and buds alone?

At the end they can tally up the points which involves a nice bit of incidental maths (always the best way to teach maths in my humble opinion).

It’s amazing how much there is to spot in what may initially seem a rather bleak and desolate mid-winter landscape!

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Have a look at these for more ideas:

‘Inspirational Outdoor Play books!’

‘Kids Nature Books’

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2 Responses to “Nature Tally – A Game for a Winter Walk”

  1. Louise April 17, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

    We started going out on “nature trails” when the Tinies began moaning about going for walks. We essentially did this, but in a less-sophisticated way. Now they’re a bit older I like the idea of keeping tallies and adding up points

  2. Hazel April 17, 2013 at 5:42 pm #

    Hi Louise, yes, a little bit of competition can be good to get the enthusiasm going! We often do a nature bingo too, which you can vary the difficulty of depending on the ages.

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