It's easy and fun to DIY a scavenger hunt for your kids. Scavenger hunts are great options for so many occasions and reasons:
- Interactive birthday party activity (the prize could be presents for the birthday kid or goody bags for guests)
- Practice with reading and logic for young learners — it's so fun it won't seem like homeschooling!
- Practice reading a target language for multilingual learners
- Holiday fun — we used this to lead our kids to their Easter baskets
- Rainy day fun
- Just because!
Remember, the hunt is fun on its own — the prize doesn't have to be anything fancy. It could be a favorite stuffed animal who's "hiding" or a couple of coins … er … pirate doubloons.
All you need to do to set up the scavenger hunt is write down clues and hide them through the house or yard. The last clue should lead to the prize. Simple enough, but here are seven tips to pull it off like a boss.
Tip #1: I find a good number of clues is around 8 — it's enough to keep kids interested but not frustrated. Aim lower for younger kids and higher for older.
Tip #2: If you have multiple locations to plant clues, vary location as much as possible between clues. For instance, have one clue be outside and the next inside, or one upstairs and the next downstairs, the next in the basement and the next in the attic. Most kids have a lot of energy, so take advantage and run them around.
Tip #3: Gear the clue complexity to their age. For pre-readers, draw a picture of where the next clue can be found. For early readers, keep the clues simple. For older kids, you can make the clues more of a logic-oriented guessing game. Mikko complained that next time I shouldn't write my clues "in cursive." They weren't. I guess I just have messy handwriting. But, see, who knows — maybe he'll become a pharmacist one day and this practice will stand him in good stead for interpreting doctors' handwriting.
Tip #4: Incorporate other learning opportunities as desired. If you're learning another language together, use that language in part or all of the clues. If you want your kids to identify musical instruments, make the clues point to a certain type of instrument that the next clue is hidden within. (Maybe you could even do audio clues with some pre-recording!) If you're learning geography, include country flags on each clue, and hide the clue in an item associated with a specific country. For instance, a clue for Spain could be hidden inside a classical guitar, and a clue for South Korea could be in your rice cooker. Maybe your kids could solve a math problem that relates to the clue — for instance, the answer tells them how many stairs to climb or which drawer to open. Younger kids might enjoy a hunt that leads them to items of different bold colors or shapes. Use your imagination!
Tip #5: To plant clues without getting confused, start at the finish and work backwards. That way, you'll know you've got them all in order. Place your prize where you want it, and then put your last clue directing to the prize in a good hiding spot. Now write a clue that will lead to that hiding spot and choose a new hiding spot for that clue, and so on. You can also write out the clues ahead of time and just make sure to hide them in order. In that case, it can help to number them in the order you plan to uncover them.
Tip #6: Keep out one clue to start the hunt.
Tip #7: To give your hunt a thematic twist for a birthday party or other special occasion, include props next to the clue, such as a pirate hat and spyglass, or a deerstalker and magnifying glass.
Have fun searching!
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