When the kids start getting restless, it’s time for parents to get creative! Scavenger hunts are a simple way to create a day’s worth of entertainment for children of any age—from preschoolers to teens. With a little imagination and some common household items, you can design your own scavenger hunt for kids.
Not sure where to start? No worries! Our scavenger hunt guide is chock-full of ideas, clues, and activities to keep your hunt interactive, engaging, and enjoyable for the kiddos!
Beat Boredom with a Spectacular Scavenger Hunt
If you are feeling a little overwhelmed at the idea of planning your scavenger hunt, rest easy. We’ve got you! ScavengerHunt.com is the ultimate source for scavenger hunts for kids. Now available in hundreds of cities worldwide, our scavenger hunts are the perfect way to turn any dull day into an epic adventure.
Find a Purpose or Theme
Your first step in planning a fun scavenger hunt for kids is to come up with a purpose or a theme. You can make this as simple or creative as you would like, but keep the ages of the participants in mind.
For younger kids, something as simple as a nature scavenger hunt will be enough to keep them active and happy. For older kids, however, a more elaborate theme might be needed to keep them engaged – and off their phones!
If you have a variety of ages, split the kids into teams to include both younger and older team members. The younger kiddos will love teaming up with older friends or siblings, and you’ll be surprised at how patient the older ones can be when paired up with preschoolers!
Ready to get started? Here are some of our favorite scavenger hunt ideas.
Birthday Party Scavenger Hunt:
For an interactive, hands-on party game, a scavenger hunt is the way to go! Forego the typical birthday goodie bags and hide their prizes throughout the house, instead.
Pro Tip: We love Amazon for inexpensive birthday party favors!
Holiday Scavenger Hunt:
Holidays make for an excellent scavenger hunt theme: Halloween, Christmas, or any other holiday would work. You can even turn a classic Easter egg hunt into a scavenger hunt with some clever clues and challenges. On St. Patrick’s Day, searching for “gold” and shamrocks makes it even more festive.
Indoor Scavenger Hunt:
A DIY indoor scavenger hunt is an easy, fun way to brighten a rainy day. Since these are usually last-minute ideas, look online for a free printable scavenger hunt list. Keep things simple by focusing the hunt on common household items
Outdoor Scavenger Hunt:
This one is perfect for the little ones! For a nature scavenger hunt, the items to look for should be easy to find outdoors, such as a pink flower or a smooth rock. As they get older, you can make it more challenging by adding a scientific touch: a leaf from an oak tree, for example.
You can combine this one with Earth Day, for a scavenger hunt that is exciting and educational. We won’t tell the kids if you won’t!
Photo Scavenger Hunt:
This one is fun for all ages. Instead of having them gather items, have the kids take photos with items. You can award bonus points for photographic creativity. After the hunt, print or upload all the silly photos you’ve collected, so the kids can get a belly laugh all over again.
Write a List of Items
Once you’ve decided on your theme/purpose, you can start working on a list of items for the kids to find.
For the most part, you won’t want to purchase supplies, so stick to common household or nature objects such as paper clips, pebbles, and so on.
Of course, if you’re using a holiday as your theme, picking up some inexpensive holiday goodies or toys will keep the theme going and add a little extra pizzazz to the hunt. Think special Christmas ornaments or little Halloween-themed pencil packs, nothing too expensive or difficult to hide!
As with everything else scavenger hunt-related, keep it age-appropriate.
Your little ones won’t always remember where you keep things. What might seem obvious to you might prove to be too challenging for them. Items such as a yellow bouncy ball or a purple crayon will be just their speed. You can also direct them to find “something shiny” or “something you use for eating”—keep it at their level.
On their list, print pictures instead of words. This will allow them to feel independent yet keep them on track while they hunt clues.
Kids just learning to read will have a blast doing the scavenger hunt on their own. Give them a list using sight words from school. If they don’t have enough sight words, mix words and pictures with a special list just for them.
Tweens & Teens
Keep the older ones engaged with some brain teasers. Try scrambling the letters in the word, for example, to make them figure out what they’re hunting for. Or use a simple code (A=1, B=2) for them to decipher the list on their own.
Add in Some Clues
Sure, you can give the kiddos a list of items and call it a day. But if you want to step it up a notch, get their brains involved by using a few clues. These can lead to a “prize” (stickers hidden inside the tub, a Starbucks gift card in the pages of a book) or to point them in the direction of the next clue.
The little ones love rhyming clues!
“If you turn the knob, I get hot.
I’m where you put a pan or pot.”
“This is what you use when it’s time to scrub.
I usually hang out with my friend, the tub.”
“Flick my switch if you need some light.
I’ll help you read when it gets to be night.”
“This is where you go to get a drink.
I’m next to my buddy, the kitchen sink.”
As the kids get older, use progressively more difficult clues, riddles, and brain teasers.
“I have no head, but I have a face.
My hands move at a steady pace.”
“The more I dry, the wetter I become. What am I?”
“I can smash scissors, but paper covers me. What am I?”
“I never leave the corner, but can travel around the world. What am I?”
Tweens & Teens
Now it’s time to really flex that brainpower! Here’s your chance to try to stump the older kiddos. You can add holiday-themed trivia, messages written in numeric code/Morse code, clues in a foreign language, or more difficult riddles.
“I have a head and a tail, but no body in between, what am I?”
“Look in the 19-9-14-11.”
Of course, not all of your items should have clues. Add in just enough to keep it interesting, but not too many so the kids don’t feel overwhelmed.
Get Them Moving and Grooving
The kids will naturally be running around as they figure out clues and race from room to room on their treasure hunt. But you can always add in some extra physical challenges, too. These can be things they do on their own—and maybe take a video to show you later—or things that they have to demonstrate to one another, the opposing team, or even to you.
Ideas for Physical Activities:
- Teach a teammate your favorite dance moves.
- Do 10 jumping jacks for mom & dad.
- Walk across the living room like your favorite animal.
Other Fun Activities:
Tap into your kids’ creativity or let them show off their hobbies!
- Write a poem.
- Draw a picture.
- Learn how to say hello, please, and thank you in another language.
Snap Silly Selfies
If your kids are like most, they love any chance to pose! Keep them engaged by using selfies (or selfie videos) as part of the scavenger hunt experience.
- Hit up the dress-up clothes bin to create a costume—you can ask for themes (dress like a pirate!).
- Using a roll of toilet paper, have the youngest team member turn the oldest into a zombie.
- Holding a self “portrait” they’ve drawn.
- Have kids take pictures posing as the letters in their name (YMCA-style).
- Use items around the house to dress up as a favorite celeb.
- Older kids can pose as their favorite meme!
And of course, you can’t miss some video action!
- Playing an instrument—or air guitar!
- Reenacting a scene from a favorite movie or play
One word of advice here: ask the kids to stay off social media and not text during the event. The whole point of a scavenger hunt is to enjoy the activity and bond with your fellow participants!
We’ve covered all the basics, but here are a couple of fun ideas you might want to think about to make your scavenger hunt even more fantastic:
1. Play against another family! Get some family bonding going by challenging friends or neighbors to a scavenger hunt against your crew. Our multi-home party pack is good for up to six families to compete against one another.
2. Go digital and share the experience. Grandparents and other family members love to watch the kiddos at play—try steaming part of your scavenger hunt game via Facetime or Zoom. Or get them involved by letting kids call them for help with clues.
3. In general: the younger the crowd, the shorter the hunt should be. Little ones have a shorter attention span, and will just get antsy if you try to make it an hour-long activity. Give them shorter lists, especially if this is their first scavenger hunt. Of course, you can always split up the scavenger hunt with fun activities such as snack time or a dance break to keep them more entertained.
Scavenger hunts are a fun way to keep kids of all ages active, engaged, and—most importantly—giggling! Mix it up with silly challenges, brain-teasing riddles, and other activities that will keep their minds and bodies busy.
We’ve given you a head start on ideas, clues, and activities to get you started. Kiddos will enjoy solving tricky clues, conquering challenges, snapping pics, and making memories.
Still unsure about planning your own event? Try one of ours! Each hunt is a unique experience—explore a new place or see a familiar place in a new light. You can even purchase tickets today and select a location later—tickets purchased from us will not expire for 2 years. We’ll even help you to upgrade a standard hunt for a special occasion or customize roles for event participants. Check out the FAQ for details. We can’t think of a reason not to try one!
Frequently Asked Questions
Not at all! To try a hunt at home, look for free templates online. Use inexpensive rewards—the fun is in the hunt. Need a hand? Check out ScavengerHunt.com. The cost is less than a trip to the movies!