How To Create Fun Scavenger Hunts Your Kids Will Love

Scavenger hunts are such an easy to set up and fun activity for kids.

Whenever kids are home for an extended period of time they'll be looking for something to do beyond the usual pile of toys or backyard fun.

A scavenger hunt with siblings or friends is a fun way to keep boredom at bay and give them a fun challenge to complete.

{Whisper} they can be really educational, too!

Scavenger hunts are also a great way to have fun as a family and adding a quarterly seasonal scavenger hunt is the perfect way to get everyone out in nature.

Whether you want to set up a scavenger hunt for a nature walk, playdate, summer camp at home, school holidays or just to keep boredom at bay, read on for how to set up an indoor or outdoor scavenger hunt.

It's time to put down the electronics and enjoy some good old-fashioned entertainment!

Buy it here!

What is a Scavenger Hunt?

A scavenger hunt is a game in which participants seek to gather, photograph or tick off a list of specific items.

Sometimes the requests are simple and straightforward, such as find a shoe, a rock, or a book.

Other clues may be more cryptic, such as "find something that changes colour", code for a fall leaf.

Scavenger hunts with photographs or picture clues are particularly helpful for younger children and early readers.

Once the organiser of the hunt has prepared a list, they give each player or team their own copy of the list to start hunting.

Scavenger hunts are often outdoors and involve walking so they are a great way to get some fresh air and exercise whilst having fun.

An elaborate community scavenger hunt may involve different locations in which players search for hidden objects, but it can also be as simple as printing off a scavenger hunt and going for a walk with your family.

What Types of Scavenger Hunt Are There?

Scavenger hunts are an easy, creative, affordable and adaptable activity that can be fun for both kids and adults.

One of the best things about them is how adaptable they are, as they can be done at home in your house or garden; on a hike, outdoors at a campsite, around your neighbourhood, or pretty much anywhere!

How to Set Up a Scavenger Hunt

Setting up a scavenger hunt is as simple as creating a list of things to find, collect, hear or do, you can even grab some readymade printable scavenger hunts!

Then you can set a time limit, although this is optional, give your children their list and let them head off to find or do all of the things on their list.

The player or team who tick everything off their list first, or tick off the most items within the time limit, wins.

Scavenger hunts can be played in teams or individually, the game is completely adaptable and a great activity for smaller or larger groups.

What Are the Rules for a Scavenger Hunt?

Give children the list and let them scavenge around and find, collect or do all of the things on their list. 

Follow these basic steps for a successful scavenger hunt:

1. Hide objects (optional). You can also direct participants to find items that are already in place, which means no prior setup is needed. Our printable scavenger hunts are perfect for this! *

2. Use pictures, numbers and words to create your list. 

3. Distribute the lists of items for participants to find; decide whether they need to bring the items back or just photograph them or check them off of their list.

4. Define the search perimeter, paerticularly important when you are in a public place with children.

5. Create a time limit (optional). Tell the players how much time they have to find the objects and begin.

6. Whoever finds the most items (or the team to find them all first) wins.

* Alternatively, instead of giving players the full list of items to find at the start of the game, a scavenger hunt can also be set up in a particular order with clues to the next thing to find at each location. Kind of like an Easter egg hunt!

Buy it here!

What are Some Great Scavenger Hunt Ideas?

Scavenger hunts can be made from literally anything, a collection of related or unrelated objects that players need to find.

But, having said that, there are some classic themes that make great scavenger hunts, here are our favourites:

1. Nature Scavenger Hunts

A nature scavenger hunt can take place in your backyard or garden, at a park, forest or woodland or at a nature reserve.

Participants search for items around them, or follow clues to find items hidden outdoors.

Nature hunts are fun for every age group, including very young kids, and make a great way to structure a nature walk, or a fantastic additon to a Charlotte Mason style nature study.

You might ask searchers to:

An outdoor scavenger hunt is also a great way to engage the senses, so you might set up a scavenger hunt that asks players to identify things they can see, smell, touch and hear. 

A nature hunt can also be a fun way to teach kids about environmental stewardship.

For example, you might help tidy and beautify a trail by picking up trash you find on your walk. 

Collecting trash can feel like a menial task, but when it’s disguised as a game, it can be fun.

Pass out gloves and plastic bags. Offer prizes for whoever collects the most trash and whoever finds the strangest object.

Make sure that each group of kids has adult supervision for safety if they are collecting trash. And bring hand sanitizer to wash hands afterwards if bathroom facilities aren't available.

2. Neighbourhood Scavenger Hunts

A neighbourhood scavenger hunt can be an excellent way to get to know some neighbours, although of course it's important to consider safety.

Ideally you will have already met the neighbours prior to playing!

Be sure to have sufficient adult supervision and give neighbours a heads up about your plan, giving them the option to opt in or out.

There are a couple of variations with this one:

1. Option one is to go door-to-door. Players tell the neighbour who answers the door that they are on a scavenger hunt. They then ask if they can borrow or photograph an item on their list. List items should be common, simple objects such as a rubber band, a pencil, a used stamp, a drinking straw, or a paper cup. 

2. Another variation is simply holding an outdoor scavenger hunt in the neighbourhood, the same way you would have a nature hunt. This kind of hunt can be a fun ice-breaker activity for meeting neighbours. It’s also a great way to keep kids occupied during a neighbourhood block party.

Our printable 4th of July scavenger hunt is perfect for this!

Other neighbourhood scavenger hunt ideas include:
  • Find hidden items in the neighborhood
  • Find specific landmarks or locations
  • Follow hidden clues to find a prize
  • Go door-to-door to request items from a list
  • Collect signatures or a sticker from your neighbours

Do use discretion with the door-to-door variation of this game. Knocking on someone's door more than once could quickly become irritating for your neighbours. 

If you have two teams, each team might only go to the odd-numbered or the even-numbered houses, or each team could take one side of the street.

Again, it's a good idea to clear participation with your neighbours ahead of time, as a courtesy.

3. Photo Scavenger Hunts

A photo scavenger hunt requires individuals or teams to have a camera or a smartphone to participate. 

At the end of the game, instead of looking through the things people found, you look through the photos that were taken.

Polaroid cameras work well for this and can be fun to use. Plus, print photos can be novel for kids who have grown up with digital cameras and smartphones!

Photo scavenger hunt ideas:
  • Items that are a particular colour or shape
  • Local landmarks
  • Players doing certain activities (jumping on a trampoline, standing in front of a sign, making a silly face).
  • Things that start with a specific letter 
  • Objects that start with certain letters that when collected together spell a word, such as the name of your club or group.

4. Field Trip Scavenger Hunts

Field trip scavenger hunts can be a great way to keep kids engaged while at a museum or gallery, on a camping trip or at the beach.

These kind of scavenger hunts involve giving players a list of items to hunt for while they are at an event or on a trip, so they may last for several days.

These activities may require a little bit of detective work ahead of time for the organizer, as you will need to be familiar with the items in the area to create the list.

Field trip scavenger hunt ideas include:
  • Items in an exhibit at the museum
  • Items with a logo on them
  • Activities when camping
  • Words or letters from signs

When planning a scavenger hunt in a public space, talk to kids about proper etiquette and safety.

If your hunt is in a museum, for instance, be sure kids understand that they should talk quietly and walk to avoid disturbing other visitors.

Outdoors make sure kids know to stay in designated groups and not wander off on their own.

For safety, have an adult or teenager stay with each group if younger children are participating, and arrange a rendezvous point for if anyone gets lost. 

5. Stay-at-Home Scavenger Hunts

Scavenger hunts can be great at-home activities, too.

They are a fun way to break up a boring weekend, a fun (and inexpensive) activity for a sleepover or birthday party.

Some stay-at-home scavenger hunt ideas include:
  • Favourite things (favourite foods, favourite colors, favourite toy)
  • Household items
  • Something that starts with A, B, C, etc.

Or you could use clues that require some investigating or interviewing of the other participants. For example, find an object in Clare's favorite colour.

How Can I Plan a Scavenger Hunt?

Planning a scavenger hunt is simple and fun in just a few easy steps.

You can even grab a printable scavenger hunt already done for you and just set the kids off.

To set up a scavenger hunt:
  1. Decide on a location, day, and time, and invite your guests.
  2. Identify the objects you want participants to look for.
  3. Decide whether you will hide them and/or use clues that need to be deciphered or if they are objects that can easily be found.
  4. Type and print your list for as many players or teams as you will have.
  5. You can have simple prizes on hand for the winners if you like, or guests can take home the treasures they found. 

One of the best things about scavenger hunts is that they don’t require special skills or materials. They are an inexpensive and accessible game for people of all ages. 

If you are thinking about doing a scavenger hunt, you can make it as simple or elaborate as you want. 

Think of things you can find around the house or your yard and make a checklist of items to find.

If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, check out our printable scavenger hunts here:

Note: This blog post may contain affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase through these links, we may earn a small commission. Thank you for your understanding and support. Find out more about ads on our Disclosure page: All printable sales are final, due to the nature of digital products no refunds can be made.