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Magpies are fascinating birds, — so interesting that we chose them as a featured creature in our Camp Tinkergarten communication series. These black, white, blue and green birds with long tails are known for caching food they collect and for building large nests. They are also one of the few birds that locates food through their sense of smell! For many years, tales have been told of magpies stealing shiny objects, like jewelry and coins to adorn their nests (recent research suggests that these birds are much more interested in food than shiny objects). In this activity, kids take on the perspective of a magpie and search their outdoor space for treasures a magpie would use for food, nesting materials and more!
Learn about magpies: Watch the read-aloud of More by I.C. Springman, a story about a magpie and their collection of treasures. Listen to the calls of magpies and try to replicate the sounds with kids.
Invite: Show your child the printable Magpie Scavenger Hunt sheet and say, “Would you like to pretend to be a magpie and find these treasures?”
Enjoy the hunt! You can hunt for one thing at a time or just walk about, noticing items as they appear to you. Follow kids' lead and lean in to the thrill of the hunt. Use a crayon or pencil to check each category as they find it to keep track of their progress.
End whenever it's time: Kids need not complete the sheet in one outing—or ever, really. The process of looking, pretending and exploring their outdoor space is the goal.
Extend: Invite kids to make their own collection of special treasures, just like the magpie in the book. Search your outdoor space for nature treasures with interesting colors, shapes and textures. Then, kids can hide their treasures around their outdoor space and try to remember where they are. Kids can also make a nature treasure box to “cache” their treasures like a magpie.
Scavenger hunts are a super way to add a dose of adventure to your outdoor time. Hunts also sharpen kids’ senses, help kids connect more deeply to the natural world and support their ability to focus.