You won’t find a Spotter’s Guide to UK Rhinos but this is a favourite photo of a young Caroline, amazed to see a rhino in real life when she’d only spotted them in books before.

It can be hard to find activities to lure our screen-addicted offspring outdoors and with that in mind and the gorgeous sun today, I thought I’d share a list of adventure and nature-spotting activities to encourage children outside. Some are free of charge downloadable spotter sheets while others are charity schemes your wild kids can pay to join and receive certificates or stickers etc.

Youth Clubs and Kid’s Organisations

These are useful for clubs, youth groups, forest school, Scouts and Guides too.

Most of our nature and wildlife charities provide specialised activities to inspire youngsters. You can search on the charity websites, or save yourself hassle and browse the list below!

Whether you want plants, trees, wildlife, gardening, animals, marine life, insects, wildflowers or wild adventures there is something for everyone. And don’t be put off if you live in the city, nature is everywhere and adventure only needs imagination.

Animals, Nature, Wildlife and Adventure

The National Trust‘s 50 Things to do Before You’re 11 3/4 includes both wildlife and adventure challenges with an excellent spotter book where children record each activity completed. Download a pdf list or buy the book (click on image).

The junior section of The Wildlife Trusts, Wildlife Watch offer a handbook, stickers, poster, badge and award scheme for £10-£33 per year depending on your local wildlife trust.

The RSPB‘s Wild Challenge Awards is free to join online and includes conservation and exploration ideas with Bronze, Silver & Gold awards.

For other free citizen science projects to participate in throughout the year read my post about OPAL here. Survey categories include trees, lichen, worms, water courses and soil surveys.

Plants and Trees

The Woodland Trust‘s Nature Detectives scheme costs £18 per year with stickers, spotter sheets, activities and more through your letterbox each season.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) offers lots of ideas for families and schools with their Schools Gardening and Family Activities pages.

The Forestry Commission offer family activities at many of their public woods, such as Gruffalo sculptures and Highway Rat trails.

Image of girl in red coat and tartan trousers digging soil around a beech tree sapling being held by girl with blue coat and wellies in woodland
Get outdoors for tree planting in the woods; top teamwork on a citizen science project

Plantlife (UK, Scotland & Wales) provide free downloadable family activities including plant spotting guides and activity sheets

Herbology Hunt provide free monthly downloads on Twitter encouraging children to spot wild flowers and upload them at #WildflowerHour every Sunday. Alternatively you can join for £ and receive hard copies in the post.

Insects and Butterflies

Visit the Dragonfly Centre at Wicken Fen (with British Dragonfly Society and National Trust) and take part in a Dragonfly Watch where you live.

Join Butterfly Conservation‘s Big Butterfly Count at the end of July.

Bumble Kids, the junior section of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust have online info, an app, downloads and a quiz to check if your garden is bee friendly.

Marine and Freshwater Life

Marine Conservation Society have many ideas for wild kids to get outdoors at the coast including this Seashore Safari pdf for wildlife spotting at the beach plus many other downloads too.

Image of girl-on-beach-investigating-jellyfish

Measuring jellyfish with a MCS jellyfish spotter download

The Natural History Museum runs a Seaweed Search for those living near the sea or for wild kids to do on holiday.

The Canal & River Trust’s Explorer page has many excellent downloadable resources including walks and nature spotting in your area.

The Freshwater Habitats Trust offer various pond dipping and water-based projects and surveys Freshwater Habitats Trust, or create a wildlife pond and register it with their Million Ponds Project here

The Shark Trust have a brilliant Easter Eggcase Hunt to do at the beach.Image of The Shark Trust's Great Eggcase Hunt infographic showing different types of shark egg cases


Buy Your Own

Enjoy nature observation with the kids without going online! There are dozens of child-friendly spotter’s guides available.

Spotter sheets for British wildlife are a great way to take an ID guide into the field without too much bulk or weight in your backpack. The Field Studies Council have a great selection of charts, guides and handbooks from £2-£3.

Here’s some books we use. (Click pictures to buy)

If you would like me to link to your outdoor charity’s kids section please get in touch.

Find more outdoor inspiration to encourage your wild kids outside in our Get Outdoors section.