How to Create a Backyard Scavenger Hunt to Entertain Your Kids This Spring (2024)

Few kids' activities are as easy, fun, and valuable as an outdoor scavenger hunt; best of all, you don't have to be a child development expert or a Pinterest parent to set up a seek-and-find that engages and educates children of all ages. "Scavenger hunts are wonderful for building mental agility, creativity, patience, paying attention to details, and staying focused and calm in the face of solving problems," says Charmaine Pattinson, CEO of Plinkit. "Learning through play and learning in context is ideal for young children, and a backyard scavenger hunt does exactly that."

How to Plan a Halloween Scavenger Hunt

Why You Should Create a Backyard Scavenger Hunt

A backyard scavenger hunt combines two essential developmental activities—the problem-solving element of the search and the benefits of outdoor play. "Kids who play outside see benefits such as increased attention span, less anxiety, better moods and sleep, heightened creativity, among other things," says Alanna Gallo of Play. Learn. Thrive. According to Paige Abramson Hirsch, chief content editor of Plinkit, "Outdoor play is essential for encouraging children to use all their senses and to experiment with reasonable risk, in addition to connecting with nature, soaking up fresh air, and getting a healthy dose of vitamin D." At the same time, the structure of a scavenger hunt helps kids work toward critical development milestones. "Seek and find games are good because they require a sense of focus and attention to detail, both of which are important skills to develop," says Gallo. "If they are working with other children, scavenger hunts can provide kids with opportunities to collaborate and problem-solve. Beyond the actual scavenger hunt, you can extend the game into more academic conversations about nature, animals, seasons—anything that comes up."

What Tools You'll Need

A scavenger hunt can be as complicated—or as simple—as you want, whether you're inclined to draw or download checklists and create elaborate clues or just send your kids outside with general instructions to "bring back some treasures." To make the hunt feel a little more formal, offer kids a brown paper bag, small basket, or bucket they can use to collect their finds and provide them with binoculars, a flashlight, or a magnifying glass to aid in their search. "Using real tools gives them a sense that they are doing real work, and I think overall children enjoy feeling like they are doing something purposeful," says Gallo. "Bringing a camera could be an amazing add-on if children are old enough—allowing them to bring their unique perspective in photographing the items is a great way to bring in a creative element into the scavenger hunt."

How to Set Up a Scavenger Hunt

Modify your scavenger hunt to accommodate your child's age and developmental level; to complement skills and concepts they're learning at school, and to match your own personal DIY skills. "Parents can keep it simple and spontaneous with items that are naturally found or make it more complex by hiding specific items—it really is up to you," says Pattinson. Some parents choose to hide items, but if you prefer to find natural elements, Gallo recommends supplying a list of names or pictures for the kids to identify: certain types of leaves, a bird's nest, acorns. "I love to provide my little ones with a printout of items to look for that are already in nature," she says. "Generally speaking, it's important for children to connect directly with nature. Finding items that occur naturally lends itself to more authentic opportunities for discussion and exploration."

Younger children can work through a hunt for items based only on color, shape, texture, size, or first letter: Find items that are blue, green, and yellow; smooth, bumpy, or soft; all beginning with the letter H. "Identifying items by shape, color, or size is a hands-on way of building early math skills, and recognizing items by letter is excellent for strengthening pre-reading skills," says Hirsch.

Make the hunt more complex for older children by layering on additional tasks, suggests Hirsch: "Create a challenge to find an object for each letter of the alphabet, have your child solve a simple math problem to get to the next clue, [or] hop on one leg to the driveway, and move from place to place to find the next clue." And don't let bad weather dissuade you: "A rainy day hunt is a great time to focus on the senses," says Hirsch. "Can your child hear the rain? See a puddle? Smell fresh earth? Rather than running from the rain, embrace it and all of its sensory experiences."

While participating in the scavenger hunt with your kids can provide a fun opportunity for family bonding, letting your little ones self-direct their level of engagement is important, says Gallo. "For something like a scavenger hunt, I don't see any benefit for parents needing to control how focused the children are, or if they complete the hunt exactly as planned," says Gallo. "It makes it just another activity to check off the list. Kids need [the] freedom to play without supervision and to explore on their own terms—that's the kind of play that benefits children most."

How to Create a Backyard Scavenger Hunt to Entertain Your Kids This Spring (2024)

FAQs

How to Create a Backyard Scavenger Hunt to Entertain Your Kids This Spring? ›

Some parents choose to hide items, but if you prefer to find natural elements, Gallo recommends supplying a list of names or pictures for the kids to identify: certain types of leaves, a bird's nest, acorns. "I love to provide my little ones with a printout of items to look for that are already in nature," she says.

How do you set up an outdoor scavenger hunt for kids? ›

Include common objects like sticks or trees but also tougher to spot items like a nest or a migratory bird. Just make sure the items or critters or can be found in the area of your hunt! Another alternative is to give them a blank sheet of paper with 10-20 lines drawn on it so they can fill in their own finds.

How to do a fun scavenger hunt for kids? ›

How to play:
  1. Create a list of things to find, hear or do. ...
  2. Create a time limit (optional).
  3. Give children the list and let them scavenge around and find, smell or do all of the things on their list.
  4. The player or team who ticks everything off on their list first, or ticks off the most items before the time is up, wins.

How do you make an interactive scavenger hunt? ›

This engaging activity makes learning fun and helps students solidify their knowledge.
  1. Step 1: Define Your Objectives. ...
  2. Step 2: Select Your Clue Locations. ...
  3. Step 3: Create Your Google Form.
  4. Step 4: Create QR Codes for Each Location.
  5. Step 5: Organize Your Scavenger Hunt.
  6. Step 6: Run the Scavenger Hunt.
  7. Step 7: Assess Learning.
Nov 1, 2023

How do you make a local scavenger hunt? ›

How to organise a scavenger hunt in 10 steps
  1. Consider a ticketing platform. ...
  2. Scout out locations. ...
  3. Plan the route. ...
  4. Write the clues. ...
  5. Recruit confederates. ...
  6. Distribute the clues. ...
  7. Create a backup plan. ...
  8. Include small rewards.
Oct 15, 2019

What are some good outdoor scavenger hunt clues? ›

Outdoor Scavenger Hunt Clues for Adults
  • I have four legs and no feet. ...
  • Stretch me far and fill up a trough, I can also be used to cool you off. ...
  • In a place like this, a dog can sleep. ...
  • With two wheels I can roll and I can take you where you want to go. ...
  • I can swing open and I can lock up tight.
Feb 1, 2024

What are some good clues for a scavenger hunt? ›

FAQ: Scavenger hunt clues
  • If you want to eat, then take a seat! (Dining room chair)
  • One of me per day keeps the doctor away. (Apple)
  • I can't mix batter, but I can bake a cake. (Oven)
  • I come in pairs, I'm easy to lose, I go between your feet and your shoes. (Socks)
Nov 30, 2022

How to create clues for a scavenger hunt? ›

Here are my Top Five Clue-writing Tips for creating excellent treasure hunt clues:
  1. Use wordplay: I love playing with words when brainstorming scavenger hunt ideas. ...
  2. Employ puzzles: There are so many great puzzles to choose from when looking for treasure hunt ideas: crosswords, wordsearches, sudokus, acrostics, jumbles.
Sep 21, 2009

How can I make my scavenger hunt more interesting? ›

Additionally, instead of giving 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 in which the clue to the next thing to find is located at each sequential item. This type of play offers a bit more intrigue and difficulty.

How to do a cute scavenger hunt? ›

Some creative ways to make sure the scavenger hunt is super personalized include: displaying pictures of the two of you throughout the hunt, incorporating inside jokes, nicknames, and shared memories in the clues, sending them to meaningful locations for clues (like where you had your first date), or having a pet help ...

How do you make a homemade scavenger hunt? ›

How To Plan Your Own Scavenger Hunt
  1. Choose your location(s) and time. ...
  2. Pick a theme. ...
  3. Create your lists and riddles. ...
  4. Hide the clues and/or objects. ...
  5. Write your riddles/clues. ...
  6. First one to solve all the clues and grab the final object/figures out the end result wins!

Is there an app to create your own scavenger hunt? ›

TurfHunt is one of the coolest DIY scavenger hunt apps. The program is a fully-customizable location-based treasure hunt game. Gamemasters create quizzes and courses with an easy-to-use design and publish tool. Players can download the app and join the hunt by entering a custom code.

What are good things to put on a scavenger hunt? ›

Nature Hunt - If you want to get your family in the great outdoors, come up with a scavenger hunt with different types of leaves, seeds or plants, and see what they can identify. In the Stacks - Head over to your local library with a list of books and see who can find them the fastest!

How to set up a treasure hunt? ›

How to Plan a Treasure Hunt for Kids
  1. Choose a location for your treasure hunt for kids. ...
  2. Choose a theme and format for your kid's treasure hunt. ...
  3. Decide where you will hide your treasure, and work backwards. ...
  4. Create your kids' treasure hunt clues. ...
  5. Do a final treasure hunt run-through.

Is there a free scavenger hunt app? ›

Actionbound is one of the more basic free scavenger hunt apps. The platform originally started as an educational tool, and has since morphed into a digital scavenger hunt provider for companies, educational institutions, and individuals.

What is nature scavenger hunt for kids? ›

A nature scavenger hunt, is an engaging, naure-focussed activity, akin to a game of i-spy. However, while on the surface, it appears to be little more than a fun game, it is in fact, a wonderful tool to strengthen, hone and develop our skills of awareness and understanding.

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