Summer Sanity: Scavenger Hunt and Treasure Hunt Ideas

This Guest Post is a part of Summer Sanity, a series of posts for parents to gain ideas and inspiration for how to keep their children happy, active, educated and having fun during the long summer months.

Today’s Activity: Scavenger and Treasure Hunts.
Summer holidays back on the farm I suspect, are quite different than summer holidays in the city. There were no playgrounds, libraries, movie theatres, etc. to entertain our young bodies or minds. There was TV but we were never huge TV watchers, we had an Atari but that can only keep you entertained for so long. There were no friends around for miles, just my older brother (and much later my baby brother) and if you left the two of us alone together for too long, well we’d just find trouble.
There were always chores to do. You didn’t dare say the words “I’m bored” or mom would be sure to find some job to fill your time. We knew how to work hard, and we did. I firmly believe that putting your kids to work on age appropriate chores is a great thing, but you can only make them work so much before it just becomes child labour.

My mother was quite good at coming up with creative ways to keep us occupied. One of my favorite summer time activities was a scavenger hunt, and when I was a little older I enjoyed the challenge of a treasure hunt. I know these two “games” often get lumped into one single activity but they are slightly different.

A true scavenger hunt involves scavenging for items on a list. The scavenger hunt can be enjoyed by kids of all ages because it’s so easy to tailor it to a specific age group. For the wee ones, who can’t read yet, you can make them hunt items simple to find and use pictures instead of words on your list. Simple things, like a feather, a rock, a flower, etc are perfect for toddlers and preschoolers. Just make sure that whatever you are asking them to find is readily accessible to them or they will just get frustrated and lose interest. For the older kids you can make the items a little more challenging to find. You can be more specific, like a duck feather, a yellow daisy, a rock with quartz, etc.

Another really creative way to do a scavenger hunt with older kids is to send them off with a digital camera. Rather than actually finding items to bring back they take pictures. You can be pretty vague with your list here and give them the freedom to show some artistic licence. Some examples might be, take a picture of something pink, something that makes you smile, something you want, etc. The possibilities are pretty endless!

Scavenger hunts are also great because they can be done anywhere; at the park, in your campsite, in your own backyard or even in the house on those rainy days. It’s usually pretty easy to come up with ideas to put on your list. They also accommodate any number of kids. One to three kids can each have their own list to hunt down and with groups of four or more breaking them into teams is the way to go. It’s a great way to introduce or foster team building skills to kids too!

The treasure hunt is a slightly different game. This involves giving kids a clue which leads to the next clue and so on and so on until they find the “Treasure”. A treasure hunt is awesome for older children. Again, you can give them clues that are just the right challenge for their age. Younger kids can also take part in a treasure hunt but it’s best to do it a little differently for the toddler/preschooler age group. Again, you will have to use pictures. For example if the first clue is hidden in the sandbox, your clue could be something as simple as a picture of a sandbox (for the very young ones I would use a picture of their actual sandbox), or a little more complex, maybe a picture of kids building a sand castle. I also recommend, for the younger kids, that you actually place a small treasure (or a favorite snack) with each clue. It’s a great way to keep them motivated. Simply having them hunt down another piece of paper might lose its appeal pretty quickly. Cheap dollar store items are perfect for this.

Treasure/Scavenger hunts are simple, affordable and stimulating ways to keep your little ones busy during the summer. They keep the kids active and engaged and help you hold on to your sanity! There are tons of great resources on the internet to help you out with clues. Here are a few suggestions:
Free Treasure Hunt Clues

Remember, when it stops being fun it’s time to pack it in. The rule of thumb is that kids’ patience will last about twice as many clues as they are years old.

Happy Hunting!!

Guest Post Written and Shared by: Shayna
Shayna is a mommy to a feisty (but adorable) two year old daughter, wife to a supportive husband and co-parent, working outside the home and trying to balance it all. Stop by and visit her at Outside the Box.

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21 Responses to Summer Sanity: Scavenger Hunt and Treasure Hunt Ideas

  1. Christine says:

    What a great idea! Love this post! Scavenger hunts are so much fun!

  2. ashley picco says:

    we did a treasure hunt for my sons birthday party – it was how they found the loot bags!

  3. Play Me Mama says:

    I absolutely love the idea of giving the kids a camera and list of items to take pictures of! Wonder how many parents would allow their camera’s to be used at my son’s birthday party? Or how many of the kids have their own camera devices?

  4. I love the idea of giving the kids a camera too. Scavenger hunts on the farm or in the country are so fun!

  5. When you need to keep the kids busy this is my FAV thing to do! YAY!! great post!

  6. I came up with a neat little scavenger hunt that I shared on my PTPA blog.

    I love your idea of using a digital camera! That is neat!

  7. This is on our summer list of things to do. I’d better remember this post when it’s time to make the game up! thanks!

  8. Sober Julie says:

    Listen any ideas to keep the kids busy are good ones but I adore the scavenger hunts

  9. Mommy Moment says:

    I loved extreme scavenger hunts when I was a teen. I bet my kids would love it too.

  10. The Zoo says:

    I’ve been making a list of things for kids to do (with you in mind). I had scavenger hunt on it.

    For example, “Where did Bob the Builder’s leg go (missing puzzle piece)?” And “Where’s the Cat food” (don’t want to know)? Happens.all.the.time!?

    Making my way through your Friendly Follower Linky. Should be done just in time for next Friday…

    Thanks for all your support.

    Besos, Sarah
    Zookeeper at Journeys of The Zoo

  11. awesome post! treasure hunts are a blast!!

  12. Love this idea, great way to keep kids busy in the summer!

  13. NenaS says:

    This is one of my favorite things to do with the kids and it’s a great idea for kids birthday parties, too!

  14. Annie1 says:

    Great ideas to do with our grandkids! I love your idea of using digital photos for the older kids fun!

    Anne Taylor

  15. When I was young, I used to make up treasure hunts for my siblings and neighbors – we used to use paces and compass points… there weren’t many 4 year olds that knew NE and SW but the kids I made hunts for knew…

  16. A very nice idea. I am using a variant of this idea to get my volunteers for the PGA championship acquainted with the course.

  17. Great idea! I have a 4 year old and he would LOVE the scavenger hunt! I am ALWAYS searching for ways to keep him entertained so I am definitely going to have to try this on!
    Stopping by from Stop and Share Saturday!

  18. Opal Stevens says:

    Love the idea, we’ll have to do this! 🙂

  19. Jayda says:

    I always loved scavenger hunts when I was young and other then easter hunt havent done them with my kids…thanks for the ideas!


  20. NenaS says:

    I also like to do treasure hunts at my kids birthday parties, they love it! I buy little things from dollar stores, so it doesn’t cost much, but it keeps them busy and they’re so proud when they find a prize!

  21. Olivia L says:

    Lots of great ideas here! Using a camera also lets more than one kid “collect” the same item, or if doing a nature scavenger hunt, allows kids to hunt without damaging or removing objects from the ecosystem.

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