We’ve all learnt to be superbly grateful for our health during the pandemic, but the pressure of working from home whilst keeping our children interested is monumental. What do we do with all that energy? This list of 20 unique scavenger hunt ideas is a perennial resource for parents who want their youngsters to love learning.
These are great options for lightly supervised play that keeps your kids stimulated and engaged no matter how homebound the family is.
1. Roaring Rivers Scavenger Hunt
More than ever, it’s become essential that our children feel connected to the wider world. Open up an atlas or world map, give them a list of river names, and let your youngster hunt for the paths of the world’s rivers. Use some names that aren’t as well-known – this way, they end up thinking harder about the country or language that named the river. Using an encyclopaedia or Google search alongside this is a good idea, as it’ll show them what the Amazon or Nile river banks actually look like.
2. Inventors and Inventions Scavenger Hunt
This scavenger hunt is especially apt for those with some old-school tech at home. Give your child clues connected to each inventor’s name, and let them identify the matching inventions. For Charles Babbage, ‘father of the computer’, you could write:
‘I’m from the 1800s, but my thoughts stretched far beyond.
I invented the machine you attend your classes on!’
3. Anagram Attack Scavenger Hunt
This scavenger hunt leads from one jumbled-word clue to another. Kids unscramble the sentence ‘I’m in the BHTMROOA.’ to find the next clue in the bathroom, and so on till they reach their final clue. A pre-internet classic that jumpstarts any child’s critical thinking skills, and an excellent way to teach them about codes and ciphers.
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4. Creepy Crawlies Scavenger Hunt
If you have access to the great outdoors (or your own backyard), try a scavenger hunt for bugs! Let your kids try to find a spider, a ladybug, a gnat, a beetle and other fun denizens of the dirt. To make it more creative, give them a fun fact about each bug and let them guess which insect it is. This hunt is perfect for kindergarteners building their animal, bird and insect vocabularies.
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5. Happy Holidays Scavenger Hunt
If your family misses the festivities that 2020 swallowed up, try getting out some of your hardy old Christmas stockings and Easter eggs. Let the children go on a scavenger hunt for these holiday-themed items, with the clues ordered according to the months of the year. If your holiday decorations are fragile, simple cardboard cut-outs will do the trick, and the children can colour them, too!
6. Dictionary Hero Scavenger Hunt
Whether your child is a book-lover or a developing reader, teaching them to use the dictionary is an invaluable skill. As long as they know the alphabet, they can join in this scavenger hunt! Ask them to find a list of words that begin and end with certain letters, placing colourful bookmarks in the correct sections to help them out. This activity is perfect for siblings of different ages to do together.
7. Recipe-building Scavenger Hunt
Treasure is the best part of any scavenger hunt – and what better prize than a delicious snack? Hide ingredients for cookies or others favourites around the house in sealed containers, talking your child through what goes into the recipe as they search. They’ll learn more about cooking and the effort it involves even as they enjoy the activity. Once they find everything and help you cook, they are rewarded with the dish! It’d be best for younger children to try something simple like a cheese sandwich that doesn’t require the stove or chopping.
8. Art Supply Scavenger Hunt
Is your child a budding artist? Hide single art supplies all over the house; a tube of paint in a soap dish, a paintbrush in the toothbrush holder, or coloured paper folded into their favourite book. Give them 10 minutes, and then challenge them to draw with only the supplies they’ve found. Depending on which items they unearth, they’ll have a far more interesting time than usual.
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9. Family Photos Scavenger Hunt
This scavenger hunt doubles as a bonding activity. Cuddle up with your kids and the family photo albums, getting them to find 10 pictures with grandma in them, or 5 pictures of Mum when she was younger. This hunt lets you relive family history and introduce the kids to relatives they may not remember.
10. Recyclables Scavenger Hunt
We all want environmentally conscious children. Teaching them about recycling is a clever way to clean up the kitchen or playroom, besides creating eco-friendly habits and craft material. For this scavenger hunt, ask them to find all the rubbish at home that’s made of cardboard, PET plastic or paper. After some help identifying these things, before you know it, they’ll be recycling on their own!
11. Things I Love About Myself Scavenger Hunt
Who doesn’t need a bit of a pick-me-up every now and then? This reflective scavenger hunt is a way to get kids to name their positive qualities, and in time, those of others. Lead with a list of simple statements: ‘tell me about a time when you were a good friend’, ‘something about yourself you’re proud of’, or ‘name a feature on your face that you love’. This scavenger hunt is a wonderful self-esteem boost that encourages deeper thinking for both grade-school kids and pre-teens.
12. Through the Window Scavenger Hunt
If your child needs or prefers some quiet time, let them sit by a secure window, provide them with a list of people and things – an elderly lady, the postman, 3 flowerpots, our next-door neighbour – and get them to tick off as many as they can see over the course of the day. Not only will this hone their observational skills, but it might teach them interesting things about your neighbourhood!
13. Terrific Thesaurus Scavenger Hunt
For grade-school children with a knack for words, this scavenger hunt is a fun challenge that expands their vocabulary. Give your child synonyms to a particular word, and perhaps a funny sentence using one of the synonyms. Let them use these clues to find the original word in a thesaurus. For instance, give them the words ‘massive’, ‘gigantic’ and ‘huge’, challenging them to find the word ‘colossal’.
14. Alphabet Scavenger Hunt
For energetic kids just starting to learn the alphabet, a scavenger hunt identifying things around the house helps them remember all 26 letters. While they may not be able to spell the words on their own, just saying ‘B for book’ or ‘U for umbrella’ is good practice. It also encourages them to get creative with their choices – ‘S’ can stand for sofa, spoon, syrup or shoes. Give them a colourful printout of the alphabet, and let them mark off every letter they have found a word for.
15. Storybook Scavenger Hunt
If you’re in a home of bookworms, find a book your child is yet to read, and set them a list of characters to identify as they progress through the book. Which person in the story has three brothers? Which character comes from a town with a silver tower? This will hone their observational skills while making the read more exciting.
16. Puzzle Piece Scavenger Hunt
Hide puzzle pieces in one room of your home and let the kids find them. Tell them how many pieces to look for in all, and watch as they hunt for the segments before sitting down to a puzzle-building session!
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17. Museums and Galleries Scavenger Hunt
Many museums and art galleries around the world, like the Louvre and the Museum of London, are allowing free virtual tours. Some come with their own scavenger hunts, but you can make a list for your child to tick off as you move through the virtual tour – Mona Lisa? Check. Blue Whale skeleton? Check!
18. Movie Magic Scavenger Hunt
Most kids end up fixating on one particular movie – Frozen, anyone? Next time they ask to watch their favourite flick, give them a list of items to watch out for – a particular painting, a tipsy house, or a three-tiered cake. This scavenger hunt encourages them to really observe the art, the detailed background and storytelling of the movie.
19. Sports Lover’s Scavenger Hunt
If your child is a football fan, a hockey nut, or a cricket connoisseur, print out the faces of their favourite team and hide the cut outs around the house. Getting them to reunite the team members is what makes this scavenger hunt special, and it’s an engaging activity to keep them busy before a big game!
20. Global Capitals Scavenger Hunt
Ending on an adventurous note, this scavenger hunt works by letting children use a globe, atlas or Google Maps to identify 20 world capitals. Accompany each city with a small image search or fun fact to get them exploring further. This activity is excellent for grade-school children who are learning geography.
These 20 scavenger hunts will keep your children engrossed and excited. Enjoy!