This is an idea I've been wanting to try all summer. We finally made it to the beach with our egg cartons, and this simple scavenger hunt ended up being a really engaging activity. It went so well that my son immediately asked if we could do it again!
All you need is one empty egg carton for each participant, and a patch of nature where you can safely explore. The goal is to fill each egg compartment with something different. Since we were on the beach where there is always plenty of garbage, I asked my kids to avoid getting a bunch of trash, and just focus on nature.
In the past, we've done nature scavenger hunts where we had a list of different types of things (a seed, a deciduous leaf, a Y-shaped twig, etc) that everybody needs to find, but it was actually more interesting to just see what each of us came up with on our own. Also, this way takes less advance planning!
Once we each got our egg cartons, and everyone understood what we were meant to do, we all went off exploring to see what we could find. When my youngest eventually called out that he was done, and everyone else agreed, we all reconvened to share what we found.
We sat together and took turns showing each item in our cartons, and explaining why we chose it, what stood out about it or made it interesting to us.
My youngest found pieces of discarded crab shell, what we think are tube worm husks, and lots of feathers, as well as some nut shells.
My older son went for more wet items, with a few types of seaweed, one of which I know to be excellent cuisine, and some mystery material that turned out to be weathered foam insulation.
My partner found sea glass, as well as a piece of plastic that made rainbows when the sun shone through it.
I found several types of "wishing rocks" which showed stripes for each ancient sediment layer, various sizes and life stages of barnacle, and a beautiful wavy piece of wood.
We did end up with some garbage, which we decided to take home and throw away after we were done, leaving the beach a tiny bit nicer than we found it.
For me, this was a relaxing way to spend time in nature with my family. It could easily be done in larger groups as well.
I think it will be interesting to come back and do this again in future weeks, and see how much the things we find change over the seasons.