Whether it's too cold to play outside, having a birthday party, or just an ordinary day, organizing a scavenger hunt is a great and easy way to keep the kids entertained. These provide tons of fun and enhance your physical and intellectual development. Here are some ideas for organizing a scavenger hunt for kids.
Method 1 of 3: Prepare your search
Step 1. Know your audience
Children are different and will enjoy different types of tracks. Normally, the most important factor to consider is the difficulty of the search, which must be adapted to the ages of the participants. Some of the factors that you should consider are the following:
- the age and gender of the children: you will have to make sure that the intellectual level is adequate for the participants;
- the amount of time the search should take - younger children will easily get bored and irritated;
- if any of the children suffer from food allergies or if they want particular sweets.
Step 2. Choose a large and age-appropriate venue
The idea is to have enough space for children to roam, but not so much that they can get lost. For young children, it may be helpful to do the search in a group or with adult “friends”. This way you can take advantage of a larger area without the participants getting confused or lost.
- For children 2-4 years old, the search should be inside a house they know. The area to be used must be small and under supervision.
- For children ages 5 to 8, search inside and outside the house. In this case, you must also supervise the space, and if it is done outside, it must be separated from the public.
- For kids ages 9-12, search at a school or park. In this way you will allow the participants to be more independent.
- For teens, have your search run in a small town or farmers market. It can also be in a large open field.
Step 3. Decide on the format or theme of the scavenger hunt
There are many factors that contribute to this activity; it is not simply a matter of sending a group of children to look for something. Generally, the best searches have something in common; be it a theme, like The Hobbit, or a format, like a kitchen quest, where each clue leads you to an ingredient or recipe. Of course, there is no problem with a classic search that includes clues and maps.
- A theme is a good excuse to have everyone wear a costume, which can make the activity more “realistic” for many children. For example, you could buy a pack of cheap eye patches and plastic swords to create a pirate scavenger hunt.
- Do you want to add another competition? Divide the children into two teams and have them compete to find the treasure. In this way, you will allow them to improve their teamwork and communication skills. Make sure the children are old and mature enough to handle the situation.
- Decide if they will receive individual prizes, getting one on each track, or if the grand prize will be waiting at the end of the quest.
Step 4. Determine the duration of the search
A good rule of thumb to consider is that children's patience will last for a number of tracks twice their age (the number). Of course, even the oldest can get tired after 26 tracks. Therefore, an amount between 5 and 15 is a good option, depending on how far apart they are.
Step 5. Create a great treasure
The last clue should lead the participants to some kind of treasure or fun activity that rewards everyone for finishing. Also consider having a prize for the first person or team to reach the finish line to increase the sense of competition and urgency of the search.
- Decorate a box with pictures or cardboard. Then fill it with prizes, like candy, coins, or toys.
- The treasure does not have to be something great. You can organize a big dinner, a party area or a game so that the children arrive in a fun “secret forest”.
- If the quest is for younger children, make sure there are consolation prizes; everyone should find or win something to take home.
Step 6. When you write the clues, work from the end to the beginning, starting with where the final treasure is
Once you know how it will end, it will be much easier to guide the participants to get there. Each clue must lead to the next, so you will have to figure out how to write a clue that leads to your location, hide it, and move on to the next clue. Make sure the last clue you create (the first clue the children find) guides them back to where they started.
Note that while the first clue should be easy to decipher, the difficulty should increase as the search continues
Step 7. Create a simple rule list
Hand out the rules at the beginning of the activity, and if the children are old enough to read and use them, tell them to keep them. If they are very young, share them with parents and chaperones so they can enforce them. You can put any special considerations along with the rules. Some of the considerations could be:
- places where entry is not allowed or where there are definitely no clues;
- where to deliver the clues or what to do if they don't know how to follow;
- emergency contact numbers in case someone gets lost;
- the time limit or time when they must return home if they have not yet "won" or finished the search.
Method 2 of 3: Write Different Types of Tracks
Step 1. Create clues with rhymes and riddles
Typically, a clue to a scavenger hunt consists of a couplet or rhyme of a couple of lines. They can be simple, such as “if you are looking for the next clue, ask the athlete” (it may refer to a poster, a painting or a person disguised as an athlete), or a less obvious one, such as “we travel together, one black and one white You only get us together when the food doesn't taste good”(the track is close to salt and pepper).
Step 2. Use pictures as clues
Draw or take pictures of places that participants must investigate in order to find out the actual location. These types of clues are excellent for young children, as they allow them to move quickly through the search. For older children, you can increase the difficulty with old photographs, satellite images, or close-up shots.
Step 3. Include some games on the tracks
For example, you could get three identical cups. Show the children which one you hide the clue in and then quickly confuse them. The idea is that they guess which cup has the clue. Also, you can do the race to carry the egg in the spoon, an obstacle course or small searches. In this case, the clue will be handed over to the participants once the game is over.
This can be a good way to pause mid-search. First, send them to find the first 4 or 5 clues. Then, play a game in the middle of the race. Once they're done, they can eat something, drink water, and put on sunscreen before continuing their search for the next 4-5 clues
Step 4. Use secret codes or invisible ink to make the clues more challenging
The easiest way to create invisible ink is to write with white crayon and have the children mark it with a highlighter. You can also make your own invisible ink and let the kids figure out what to do with the “blank” clue on their own.
For children of all ages, you can turn off the light in a room so that everything is dark. The idea is that they search for clues with a flashlight or by feeling surfaces with their hands
Step 5. Hide the clues inside something that is “gross” or fun to explore
You could dip the clues into a bowl of spaghetti “brain” so that the children have to reach their hands to find them. If you have waterproof tracks, you can place them at the bottom of the pool, giving them a chance to jump in and swim (as long as they have supervision). Any activity that allows them to move and do different things will be a lot of fun.
Step 6. Consider creating multi-part tracks for older participants
For example, you can create a custom puzzle with online tools for a low price and print each piece. In this way, with each clue the children will receive a piece of the puzzle that will allow them to reveal one last great clue or secret. Below you will find other ideas.
- Distribute letters along with each clue so that you can create a word at the end. This word will be the password to get another clue or the answer to obtain the final treasure.
- Create questions about a topic, such as “the final answer is something that all the other clues have in common” or “the last clue is made up of the first letter of all the previous clues”.
Step 7. Use general culture questions according to the ages of the participants, including character names and popular songs
This idea is more fun if your search has a topic. For example, you can ask "where in the house did Harry Potter live as a child?" Which will cause all the children to run to the closet to find the next clue.
Be sure to ask a few children about the clues beforehand to make sure they are relevant and can be answered
Step 8. Use a map instead of the more classic tracks
This idea can be useful if you are using a puzzle or multi-part clues. Create a map with illustrations and some intentionally misleading parts (such as an “accidentally” erased area). Then, in each part of the map, place a prize or small clue that you can use to open the great treasure. In this way, you will prevent the children from running straight to the end.
Method 3 of 3: Do the Scavenger Hunt
Step 1. In advance, inform the guests about the appropriate clothing for the search
There is a big difference between preparing a child for an indoor activity and one that requires exploring the forest. Since only you know the clues and locations where the search will take place, be sure to tell the participants what to wear.
Do not forget to take into account the weather, especially it will be an outdoor activity. If it rains, will you be able to continue the search?
Step 2. Decide on a fun way to present the first clue to the children
The general idea is that the first clue will guide them to another place, where they will find another clue that will guide them to a new place, and so on until they reach the treasure. However, the first track is usually delivered in a dramatic way, as if to start with emotion.
- You can present the clue in a cool box or wrap, such as a wax-sealed envelope, a small treasure chest, rolled inside a bottle, and more.
- You can also give the clue to everyone at once, such as with a sign, sign, or by announcing it out loud.
- Another good option is to play a game or challenge, such as a cake-eating contest, an egg-scooping race, etc. Once they complete the activity, they will receive the first clue.
Step 3. Stay close to provide help and guidance to the children in case they get stuck in part of the search
While it's interesting to provide a challenge, and you don't have to help them all the time, kids can quickly become frustrated if a particular clue takes too long. Think of a couple of backing tracks to give them a little nudge in the right direction in case they get overwhelmed.
Inform children from the beginning where they can find you or their parents. Make sure to tell the other chaperones where the clues are so they can be of help as well
Step 4. Provide drinks, snacks, and sunscreen, especially if the search will be long
The last thing children will think while doing the activity is that they need to hydrate and protect themselves from the sun. So it's up to you to keep or leave some bottles of water and sunscreen near the slopes so that they can recharge their batteries without having to stop or go back.
You can get a couple of boxes of granola bars. These are a great snack on the go. You can distribute them at the beginning or in the middle of the search
Step 5. Pair children under 10 years old, unless the space is small
If you cannot keep them under supervision at all times, it is not good for young children to be alone. Pairing them with one or more people to do the work together will help them complete the quest more quickly and safely.
- Depending on the age and confidence of the children, as well as the location and difficulty of the treasure hunt, they may or may not want you to guide and help them. You can do your own evaluation, but it is always a good idea to ask the participants directly what they prefer.
- Try to create a wide variety of tracks. You can use different codes, jumbled letters, puzzles, riddles and games in such a way that they do not repeat themselves.
- Allow children to take turns reading the clues so it doesn't get too competitive.
- For paper clues, it's always fun to fold them in different ways. You can search for origami types on the internet or just fold them like an accordion.
- Make sure you have a nice prize to hand out at the end. Even if the clues are fun, kids will want to know that a prize awaits them when they finish the search.
- Make getting some clues act out a puzzle itself. For example, place a clue on a toy boat that floats on water and provide participants with a fishing net so they have to figure out how to get it out of there.
- If the children involved are older, you can include phone calls or emails in the activity.
- This activity does not necessarily have to accompany a party; It can also be part of a family event, such as a backyard Easter egg hunt.
- Don't put too many clues, as young children could get confused.
- Make sure to divide the treasure evenly among all the children. The last thing you want is for a child to start crying because he has less candy than his friend.
- If necessary, talk to the owner of the place where you are going to carry out the activity. No one would like to be run over by a stampede of children unexpectedly.
- It's easy to get bored, even during a scavenger hunt, so don't be offended if it happens.
Depending on where you are, children may need supervision during the activity.
- Children under the age of six will always need the supervision of a teenager or an adult.
- If you are in a place other than a house, children under the age of ten will need permanent supervision.