Trail Engagement Ideas

Occasionally our lessons out in the forest or trails include long-ish “hikes” from station to station, and it is always a good idea to be prepared to engage your students with a relevant trail activity during those times. You may have experienced that it is difficult to instruct from the front of a line of 14 students along the trail, so these activities are best explained while stopped and gathered. Try a few out and see which works best for you!

  • “I’m so Hungry” game (recommended for Fall 2019)

Choose a volunteer to run up front, students are not allowed to pass the front volunteer. You are in the back of the line of students. Introduce yourself as a predator animal, such as a coyote, and the students are all the prey animals, such as rabbits. You all walk along the trail, but explain that as soon as you yell “I’m so hungry!” the rabbits must freeze and stay silent so that you (coyote) can’t eat them. If you see a student move or talk, you  send them to the back of the line. 

  • Decomposer BINGO (recommended for Fall 2019)

Tell students their goal throughout their hike is to seek out 1 nurse log, 1 mushroom, and 1 slug. They should keep track in their head, or on their fingers, and call out “BINGO” when they find all three! Be sure to check in at the end of your “hike” to see who found everything! 

  • Slug counting (recommended for Fall 2019)

Simply ask students to be on the lookout for slugs, and to count on their fingers silently as they find them. Be sure to check in at the end of your hike to see how many slugs were found!

  • A fistful of sounds

Simply ask students to use their “Deer Ears” to listen very carefully for sounds in the forest. You can suggest counting bird calls, squirrel chatter, or forest sounds in general like leaves rustling, stream flowing, etc. Have them count on their fingers, and be sure to give them a chance to share. 

  • Color search

Carry a handful of natural-colored paint chips (greens, blues, browns, etc.) and pass them out to students to borrow during their hike. Their goal is to match colors in nature to the colors on their paint chip! Give students a chance to share what they found. 

  • Shape search

Carry a handful of cut out shapes in silhouette (circles, ovals, hearts, stars, squares, palms, etc.) and pass them out to students to borrow during their hike. Their goal is to match shapes in nature to their cut out shape. Give sutdents a chance to share what they found. 

  • Riddles

Content-releated riddles are fun for a quick transition, or to break up lots of content:

— I cannot hear or even see, but sense light and sounds there may be. Sometimes I end up on the hook, or even deep into a book. What am I? (A worm)

— What has no arms, hands, or legs but moves the earth? (A worm)

— What did the mother worm say to her teenage worm? (Where in earth have you been?)

— What’s worse than finding a worm in your apple? (Finding half a worm in your apple!)