Birds, bugs, and other living creatures are everywhere. Chances are pretty good that you can look out a window in your home, no matter where you live, and see some plants, like trees and grass. If you watch long enough, you’re likely to spot at least one bird. Maybe a butterfly or bee will fly by or a spider or ant will crawl across a leaf or the windowsill.
Here’s a fun game that your family can play outside or inside your home. The goal is to spy as many birds and other wild animals (such as squirrels, raccoons, lizards, snakes), “bugs” (flies, ants, butterflies, moths, bees, mosquitoes, caterpillars, spiders, beetles), and plants (flowers, bushes, grasses, trees) as you can within a certain amount of time. (Pets don’t count!) Everyone will need a pencil and some paper to write down their finds. For the youngest children, an adult should go along in the search and be the official recorder of whatever a child spots, and to provide hints, of course.
How to Play
1. Hand out the pencils and paper and go over the parameters: Write down the name or description, or make a sketch, of any living thing you spot and where you see it. If you’re playing inside, every room can be part of the game or just certain ones you designate. If you’re playing outside, anything that can be seen from the yard or on a walk counts. Pay attention to what the animals or insects you see are doing and what kind of plants or trees they use.
To better suit your space, you can expand the game to include not only actual living creatures, but also pictures of living things that might be seen in artwork, books, signs, or magazines.
3. Start a timer and say “Go!” You might need to play traffic cop to keep everyone moving and prevent squabbles over space.
4. When time is up, come together and let everyone read their list. Keep the competition at a friendly level. Who found the most living things? What kinds of things appeared the most? What was the most unusual one? What was the biggest? The smallest? The prettiest? The creepiest?
5. Date and write the name of the “finder” on each list and save them. You can compare lists over time—did you see more things on a sunny day? In springtime? At different locations? Collect the lists in a folder or bind them into a book for the family to reference and enjoy later.
1. Play this game while watching TV or a movie. How many living wild things can you spy on the screen?
2. Set some parameters and turn “I Spy” into a “Treasure Hunt” by challenging kids to find specific living things—for example, a bird in flight, a red flower, a bush with berries, a tree with smooth leaves, a spider in a web, an ant, or a caterpillar.
Audubon Adventures is an environmental science curriculum, developed by professional educators, that presents standards-based science content about birds and their habitats. It includes four-page magazines (in PDF format) just for kids with lively content, illustrations, and photographs on a variety of topics. Explore more activities, games, and lessons about birds and nature at the Audubon Adventures website.