Autumn is one of the most exciting times of the year for hunting natural treasures. In this post, we share a scavenger hunt for children with a twist. Instead of listing or picturing everything they need to search for, we’ve written the hunt with cryptic clues.
Depending on how you want to use this hunt you may want to read the clues out to a group and get them to guess the answers, or you may find it easier to give everyone a copy and let them work out the answers alone and then find whatever they think they need.
Of course, if you are using it at home, play along with your child and give a helping hand when appropriate. As a guide, my nearly four-year-old struggled to guess the answers, my eight-year-old declared it easy…but got some wrong!
Answers to autumn scavenger hunt cryptic clues
- Conker (I am shiny and brown, but my outside case is green and prickly like a hedgehog)
- Stone (I’m hard and often round. I don’t change with the seasons or the passing years)
- Autumn leaf (I change colour and gently fall to the ground at this time of year)
- Feather (I am so light that I help others go high up in the air)
- Acorn (I have a cup, but you can’t drink. from it. Squirrels like to bury me to eat later)
- Twig (I’m brown and thin and I grow from a mighty tree)
- Berry (I’m usually red and round and I feed the birds in the colder months)
- Grass (Find me beneath your feet. I stop growing in winter, but stay green)
- Bugs/Insects (We are the smallest creatures in the wood. Sometimes with eight legs)
- Worm (I’m long and pink, I like to wriggle in the soil)
How to download and print this autumn scavenger hunt
First click on the ‘Free pdf download’ button beneath the image. This will open a PDF. Click on the download symbol top right of the screen in the black bar (on chrome) Locate the file in your downloads and print, ensuring that you have selected ‘fit to page’ so that it will print the correct size for you wherever you are in the world.
Share your feedback
We’d really love to know if you use this free printable and whether your children enjoy it. How old are your children? Did they have any trouble guessing the answers? Did you have any trouble downloading or printing? Are there ways you think we could improve this scavenger hunt? Please leave your comments below, they’ll help us make our free printables better next time.
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Yesterday was the Autumn Equinox, the time of the year when day and night are equal in duration and also the traditional start of autumn in the northern hemisphere. Whilst it’s easy to mourn the passing of summer, I think it is more positive to embrace the opportunities that the change of season brings. The most noticeable of these is that it will soon be dark before children’s bedtime and this opens up new options for stargazing, campfires and… night time bug hunts!
National Moth Night this week!
This week also happens to be National Moth Night. This annual event, which actually takes place over three nights, is in its 20th year. There will be National Moth Night events taking place all over the country on Thursday, Friday & Saturday and many people will be holding their own moth counts at home. The variety and colours of moths in the UK often go unappreciated because they are mostly nocturnal, but your night-time bug hunt may open your eyes to their diversity, some are really rather pretty!
Of course, we also have Halloween in a month’s time, so if you are looking for a great spooky activity to do with children this would fit the bill too!
Taking part in an after-dark bug hunt is as easy and as exciting as it sounds and an ordinary garden feels like a very different place when explored by the light of a torch.
A quick tour of our own garden at 8pm one evening revealed spiders devouring crane flies and woodlice busy scampering under rocks among the flowerbed. My eight-year-old with a typical boy’s love of the ghoulish found the spiders particularly fascinating, but we all squealed when we spotted something moving!
When to have your bug hunt
The perfect conditions for an after-dark bug hunt are
- Dry weather
- No wind
- Relatively warm (for you and the bugs!)
- Not a full moon (so your light is the brightest thing in the garden)
Equipment you need for your bug hunt
To do the simplest kind of after-dark bug hunt you don’t need any equipment at all. You can, if you choose, go to your nearest street light and see what bugs are congregating around it, but if you want to do something that is a little more organised, we recommend the following…
- A couple of different torches or lights (see below about UV light)
- A net (a child’s fishing net will do)
- A jam jar or plastic container for bug observation
- A magnifying glass
- A notebook
- A photographic guide if you want help to help identify moths (there are 2500 varieties in the UK!) or you can do it online afterwards here
Set up your light a little before you want to go outside for the big hunt to lure the insects towards it.
What’s the deal with bugs and UV light?
There are many theories why insects are attracted to light, ranging from the heat they produce to thinking they are the moon which they use to navigate by. If you want to have the best chance of attracting bugs at night we recommend spending a small amount of money on a UV torch. If you’ve ever seen one of those bug zapping lights you’ll notice that they make use of ultraviolet light which insects find attractive. Ultraviolet light is invisible to the human eye, so we don’t use it for our lighting homes or streets, therefore a small UV torch is likely to be the brightest source of ultraviolet light for miles around.
Make a light trap like the pros
If you want you can create a trap by hanging a white sheet and suspending your UV light in front of it. This is a simple but effective method that scientists use to trap and observe bugs. The National History Museum has a great video that shows how it is done…
What to spot on your after-dark bug hunt in September
- Ground beetles (see photo above)
- Crane Flies
- Brimstone Moth
- The Vapourer Moth
- Broad-Bordered Yellow Underwing Moth
- Large Yellow Underwing
If this post inspires you to venture out on your own after dark bug hunt we’d love to see your photos, please share them with us on social media with the hashtag #littlegreenexplorers and follow us on social media
A campfire is often the best part of camping, but if you don’t have a pit provided by the camping site, how do you easily set one up? The perfect solution is a Swedish torch. It is cheap, disposable and environmentally friendly way to have a campfire wherever you are camping.
Swedish torches (also known as Swedish fire logs, eco torches and Canadian Candles) are a simple but effective idea. They are made by cutting a very dry log into quarters or fifths lengthways almost all the way to the base and then embedding a firelighter into the centre of the log.
You wouldn’t think to look at them that it would be possible to light a whole log, but the genius is in the design of the splits which allows air to reach the fire and in the embedded firelighter which gets a hot fire going quickly right down to the centre of the log. It’s their simplicity and effectiveness that mean the same design has been in use for hundreds of years.
What is the history of the Swedish torch?
The Swedish torch was first developed 400 years ago by the Swedish army during the Thirty Years War and became popular because it was an effective way of lighting a fire in the Scandinavian winter. A Swedish torch can be lit even if the ground is wet or covered in snow.
Where can I use a Swedish torch?
Because they are portable (the bought ones even come with a rope handle) they are really easy to throw in the car and take with you on camping trips or visits to the beach, or if you are a wild camper they are the perfect eco-friendly fire pit substitute.
Swedish torches can also be used when you are entertaining at home. They look great if you light several of them and use them to mark pathways at parties or to decorate a garden. My children love cooking on them outside in the garden and my 8 year-old even asked for one for his birthday!
Depending on size Swedish torches generally burn for between one and three hours.
Can I make my own Swedish torch?
Absolutely, many people do and there are lots of tutorials online which show you how including this one from freshoffthegrid.com. You’ll need a really dry log (not just one you find in your garden!) and a chainsaw, so it’s not for the faint-hearted! For convenience, many people prefer to buy them ready done, which guarantees a super dry log and an instant start to your fire. Your camping buddies might not thank you if you save a couple of pounds and present them with a log which won’t light!
Can I cook on it?
Swedish torches are really effective for off-grid cooking as you don’t need to add anything to them, no spare logs, no spare gas canisters.
You can either cook on sticks over the heat (like roasting marshmallows) or you can use the flat surface for cooking pots. A dutch oven pot with legs is really useful for this as it is both a pot and trivet in one.
Do I need to put my torch on or in something?
Although Swedish torches rarely burn right down to the ground (they tend to stop burning where the slits end, a couple of inches from the ground) it is sensible to protect the ground if it is dry. You can do this either by damping down the grass or by placing something under the torch (a patio slab for instance) but equally you can now buy decorative fire log metal baskets which you can place the torch inside. These have the added bonus of providing a level steady footing for the torch.
Where can I buy a Swedish torch?
Swedish torches are growing in popularity and are available for many independent local retailers and garden centres. You can also buy them online.