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A scavenger hunt can be great fun for children of all ages. You can get as elaborate as you like with them, but I always think the simplest ideas are the best.
With that in mind, here are seven of my favourite quick and easy scavenger hunt games ideas. Perfect for preschoolers, and toddlers too.
These ideas require virtually no set-up, and they’ll work in a wide range of locations, from the zoo to Granny’s house, and everywhere in between.
I’ve also got another post about outdoor scavenger hunts, which is well worth a look if you’re after even more ideas.
1. Rainbow Scavenger Hunt.
This one’s a lovely simple way to help preschoolers learn their colours.
The Basics: Send children off to find something for each colour of the rainbow in turn.
For littlies it’s usually easier to send everyone off to find something red, something orange, and so on. It helps keep them focused on the activity, and for those who’re unsure about colours, they can easily see what other people have found.
With slightly older children, you might want to make a simple rainbow strip to remind them of the colours. This can be stapled to a paper bag if you’d like the children to actually collect the items, or they can just carry it with them as a reminder.
2. Shape Hunt.
If you want to reinforce your children’s ability to identify 2D shapes, then a shape hunt is the perfect way to do it.
Once again, it’s as simple as drawing some shapes on a piece of paper, and sending the children off around the house, park, or wherever, to look for things that match the shapes.
3. Texture Hunt – Perfect For Indoors & Out.
I love to do this scavenger hunt indoors. It makes a perfect rainy-day activity for burning off a bit of extra energy.
There’s also the added bonus that you can direct proceedings from the sofa, making it a great option for when they are bursting with energy, while you would rather take a nap.
Textures aren’t so clear-cut as the colours and shapes above, and it’s not so easy to represent them visually on a printed scavenger hunt.
It’s easier to just call out different textures, not least because then you can be sure they’ll easily find something to fit.
4. Letter Hunt.
When they’re just beginning to get interested in reading, you want to give your preschoolers as many opportunities as possible to start looking for and identifying letters.
Once again, there are a few different ways to set this up:
- Have the children look for things that begin with a certain letter – kind of the I Spy of scavenger hunts.
- Give everyone a piece of paper with their name printed on it, and have them hunt around in books, on signs, etc. to find letters that match.
- Do an alphabet scavenger hunt list by providing a sheet with all the letters of the alphabet. Children can colour in the letters as they find them.
5. Gofindit Cards.
My favourite, super-easy way to organise a scavenger hunt activity.
If you’ve got these cards in your pocket, then you’ve got an awesome activity ready to go at a moment’s notice.
The little bag contains cards with simple prompts on them to engage all the senses. Get everyone hunting for something ‘red’, something ‘huge’, or something ‘wow’.
Use them for a 30-second diversion, or keep the game rolling for the whole of your day out.
I love that these cards work so well with a group of mixed ages as well.
6. Photo Scavenger Hunt.
We’ve got a mud kitchen outside, and I try to divert most of the finds in that direction. That way they can be used and enjoyed in outdoor play, and I don’t have to move a pile of muddy rocks off the worktop before making dinner.
Sometimes, though, it’s nice to do a scavenger hunt without bringing anything home.
There are plenty of places where it’s fun to do a scavenger hunt, but not possible to physically collect the items. This is where a photo scavenger hunt can provide the perfect solution.
Digital cameras can be bought fairly cheaply, and can be a good option if you’re not willing to let your preschooler run around with your phone.
Any scavenger hunt activity can be turned into a photo hunt, so feel free to dig out the camera and use it alongside any of the other ideas in this post. If you’re after a done-for-you version, then I love this printable from LoveCampingDesigns on Etsy.
Perhaps the best thing about taking photos of the things that you find is that it provides a brilliant record of your adventures from your child’s point of view. We’re all probably pretty good at taking photos of our children having fun, but I bet you’ll be surprised by some of the things they find interesting enough to photograph on their scavenger hunt.
7. Sticky Scavenger Hunt – Two Ways.
This one’s perfect for nature walks.
It requires a little bit of set-up, but nothing too onerous. Just a couple of minutes of organisation up front and you’re good to go.
Make these with clear tape, or strips of contact paper. Simply cut to size and wrap around your child’s wrist, sticky side out.
It’s best to put the bracelet on just before you start your nature hunt. That way it stays nice and sticky.
Children can gather small leaves and flowers, seed heads and other items to stick to their bracelets.
When you’ve finished you can put another layer of tape or contact paper over the top, sticky sides facing. That lets you keep the bracelets for a little longer, either to wear or to display.
Nice if you want a bit more space than the bracelets provide.
You’ll need a piece of cardboard for each child, and a piece of contact paper the same size, as well as some sticky tape.
Use the tape to stick the contact paper, sticky side up, onto the cardboard. Now you’ve got an irresistibly sticky surface for gathering nature finds.
I like to just use a blank piece of card, and let the children arrange their finds however they choose. It’s always interesting to see how they approach the task.
If you want to be a little bit more organised, though, you could print a grid or table and provide prompts for the kinds of things you’d like them to collect.
Just like with the bracelets, you can cover the finished collection with more sticky-backed plastic, so as to keep everything in its place.
Hopefully, this post has helped you feel confident in organising a fun scavenger hunt activity for preschoolers. I’ve also got a post full of other easy and fun outdoor activities for kids that you can read if you’re looking for more ideas.
Set-up for most scavenger hunt activities is pretty easy, and it’s made even easier if you opt to just print out a ready-made scavenger hunt sheet – The Crazy Outdoor Mama has some fab free printable scavenger hunts, and there’s also one in the resource library over at Worth Writing For.
There’s a lot of buzz at the moment about how little time our children spend outdoors. Most of us are keen to redress the balance, but it’s sometimes hard to keep children busy.
These scavenger hunt ideas for kids are all quick and easy to organise, and flexible enough to work well with groups or with individual children.
So, pin this post ready for your next adventure.