I remember playing scavenger and treasure hunts when I was a child. The neighborhood kids would get together and play for hours. We’d race around shouting and celebrating when we found an items. There was good-natured competition and lots of fun for everyone.
I used to set up scavenger hunt and treasure hunts for my own children when they were young. It still makes me smile to remember that they enjoyed the thrill of hunting for and finding items on their list as much as I did.
What is a Scavenger Hunt?
A scavenger hunt is a game involving searching for specific items on a list. It is much like a treasure hunt.
Scavenger hunts are often, but not always, played outdoors.
With these scavenger hunt ideas you can set the parameters of the game to meet your specific needs.
Why Play a Scavenger Hunt?
- It’s fun.
- It can be a distraction for bored child.
- It’s a great way to get children up and moving.
- It is a natural compliment or extension of many activities and events.
- It’s an easy way to get children outdoors.
- It encourages problem solving.
- It encourages exploration of the environment.
- It can encourage teamwork.
How to Set Up a Scavenger Hunt
- Determine where you will play the scavenger hunt. Set boundaries of the playing area if you want.
- Determine how long the game will be played.
- You can play until a player finds all the items on the game sheet.
- You can play until all items in a row or column are found.
- You can set a time period for the game.
- Choose whether players will play individually or as teams.
- Playing teams is a great way to have younger children play by teaming them up with older kids or adults.
- You can choose to play in groups as a team building exercise.
- Choose how a player wins the game.
- Finding the most items during a set time period.
- Finding all the items on the game sheet.
- Playing the scavenger hunt like a bingo game and finding all the items in a row or column.
- You can choose whether the winner received a prize or whether you’re playing for bragging rights.
- Hint – playing for the excitement and bragging rights is just as much fun, so don’t feel like you have to provide prizes.
- You use the scavenger hunt games below again and again. You can switch the game sheets that players have. You can change the location of the game so that different items are available.
What is the difference between a scavenger hunt and a treasure hunt?
A scavenger hunt is a search for many different items on a list or game board. A treasure hunt involves solving clues that lead to more more clues and ends with finding a prize.
Tips & Tricks
- Pair younger children with older children so that they can play, too.
- Before the game, compare the scavenger hunt game sheets to the environment where you’ll be playing to make sure that each sheets contains items in the environment.
- If there are not all the items needed to fill in the entire game sheet, play the game with bingo-style game rules. Finding all items in a row or column constitutes a win.
- You can seed the environment with game items if you’d like. For example, with the Valentines’ Card Scavenger Hunt, you can purchase variety packs of Valentine’s cards to insure a great variety of cards to play the hunt with.
The Big Bundle of Scavenger Hunt Games – This big bundle contains 20 different scavenger hunt for kids games for indoor hunts, outdoor hunts and holiday-themed scavenger hunts. Each game contains 3 – 8 different game boards, with a total of 80 game board pages.
Free Scavenger Hunt Ideas
** – identifies games particularly suited to playing with children. These games also work for teens and adults, but don’t have to be adapted to be played with school-aged children.
Scavenger Hunt Template ** – Use this free template to create your own unique scavenger hunt game. This printable pdf is blank so that you can fill in the items you want to include in the game you create.
Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt ** – Take a walk around the neighborhood with your family or a big group and bring this free neighborhood scavenger hunt for kids with 4 different game boards.
Superhero Scavenger Hunt ** – If you’re a fan of comic books and super heroes, then you’ll love this free superhero scavenger hunt. Each of the 4 game boards have different items to find. It’s a great reading activity, superhero party activity and movie watching game.
Measuring Scavenger Hunt ** – Learning can be fun with this game. Use a tape measure and it’s over-the-top fun!
Rhyming Scavenger Hunt ** – Have fun while reinforcing learning rhyming words and patterns with these free 4 pages of a rhyming scavenger hunt game.
Birthday Scavenger Hunt** – Free 3-page printable birthday scavenger hunt game boards. Perfect for a family birthday or a birthday party game for any number of players.
Printable Scavenger Hunt – Amusement Park ** – This game is a great way to distract kids are are waiting while other group or family members ride a ride. It’s also a perfect distraction while waiting in line or for a show to start.
Nature Scavenger Hunt in the Summer ** – A slightly structured way to encourage outdoor play. This scavenger hunt works in the backyard or on a nature walk.
Beach Scavenger Hunt ** – Looking for a break from playing in the water? This scavenger hunt designed for the beach is your answer.
Fall Scavenger Hunt ** – Use these game boards to get outside and explore nature, either on a nature walk or in your backyard.
Camping Scavenger Hunt ** – Explore the campsite and have fun with the free 4-page printable camping scavenger hunt. Perfect for a variety of ages and camping locations.
Dr. Seuss Books Scavenger Hunt ** – These scavenger hunt game boards are designed to be used in conjunction with 4 popular Dr. Seuss books. Children can play while reading the books themselves or having the books read to them.
Indoor Scavenger Hunt for Kids ** – There are so many situations that are perfect for an indoor scavenger hunt for kids. This free 4-page printable scavenger hunt will keep children happily occupied when they’re stuck indoors.
Backyard Scavenger Hunt – Free 5-page printable backyard scavenger hunt game, includes 2 different game dice and game sheets. Perfect for any outdoor location and 3 years and above.
Birthday Scavenger Hunt – Make the birthday or birthday party even more fun with this 3-page game.
Scavenger Hunt for Kids
In planning a scavenger hunt for kids, you should consider their ages and abilities in deciding which scavenger hunt to choose and how to set the game rules.
Many games can be tailored for children of different ages, but games specifically designed for children are identified with 2 asterisks.
Teaming younger children with older children or adults makes it possible for children of all ages and abilities to play along in a group scavenger hunt event.
Scavenger Hunt Games for the Holidays
Easter Scavenger Hunt ** – Looking for a fun activity for Easter day or an Easter party? This free 3-page Easter Scavenger Hunt is perfect for children of all ages.
Halloween Scavenger Hunt ** – This game is perfect for classroom parties, family parties and even just one or two children.
Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt ** – Keep the kids entertained while waiting for the big meal with this scavenger hunt.
Hallmark Christmas Movies Scavenger Hunt – Make watching your favorite Christmas movies even more fun with this scavenger hunt that contains 10 different games boards with clues from your favorite Hallmark movies.
Be sure to pin for later so you can always find these scavenger hunt ideas whenever you want them for a party or fun afternoon activity.
Find all our best kids’ activities, games, and printables in the table below. You can scroll though the table and look for ideas or search for specific ideas with the magnifying glass in the upper right-hand corner (on desktop). Click on the topic and then click through the specific article.
I’m a mom of 3, a veteran and military spouse. I’ve moved into 20+ homes all around the world. My passion is helping busy people make the space and time for what’s really important to them.