Scavenger Hunt Day
Whether it’s a game called I Spy, a What’s In Your Purse Challenge, or it’s a Citywide Scavenger Hunt, the idea is to search for things. May 24 is National Scavenger Hunt day, and we’ve got some fun ideas for you that are all about searching! Below are activities that all have a Scavenger Hunt theme. These activities include things that will help your child develop fine and gross motor skills, problem-solving and engineering skills, and can help them engage in cooperative play, while fostering creativity and perseverance. Each theme also comes with recommended literature and movie connections. Feel free to throw in your own activities that might relate, and don’t forget to post your results to social media and tag @discoverymuse to share with everyone else!
Art Activity/Fine Motor Activity – Create Your Own Scavenger Hunt
For this activity, you’ll need to grab your art supplies, paper, and your creativity!
- Location: You will need to decide where your scavenger hunt will take place. Will your “hunters” be searching inside or outside, in one room or the whole house, in your hard or your whole neighborhood?
- How Many? Once you determine a location, choose 10 – 15 items to go search for.
- What: You can be specific about the items or vague. You can search for items of a certain color/shape or items that begin with letters of the alphabet.
- Picture This: Instead of using words, consider using pictures. This may make it easier for the hunt designer, but harder for the hunter.
- Tick Tock! Time your hunters and see how long it takes to find all the items. Or have them find as many items as they can in 2 minutes.
- Collection Time: To make it easier to keep track of everything you find, carry a basket to collect your items or have a specific location where all hunters place their finds.
Art Activity/Fine Motor Activity – Create Your Own Travel Scavenger Hunt Tube
For this activity, you’ll need to grab an empty water bottle with lid, dry uncooked rice (enough to almost fill the water bottle), hot glue or super glue, and some small items or figurines.
- Clean and dry the water bottle. Remove label.
- Place your collection of small items into the water bottle. These items can be small figurines, beads, pompoms, googly eyes, legos, letters, and anything else that can fit the mouth of the water bottle. Create a small list of the items.
- Add enough dry rice to fill up to where the label would have ended. Place the lid on the bottle and check to make sure you can shake the bottle to reveal hidden objects. Add more rice or remove some until you have the level you like.
- Glue lid to the bottle to ensure the rice doesn’t come out. Attach small list of items to the bottle.
Science Experiment – I Spy
Being a good scientist means honing your observation skills. It also requires the ability to classify and sort items. A quick and easy way to practice these skills is to play “I Spy.”
- Have the clue giver silently choose an item. Try not to look at it/in the direction of the item when announcing the clue.
- Using specific phrasing such as, “I spy with my little eye something…” helps cue the seekers that a clue will be provided.
- First practice with colors. “I spy something yellow.” The seekers will know to classify objects by color.
- Next think about texture. “I spy something bumpy.” Seekers will mentally sort by texture.
- This game can be done in many ways, from using colors, letters (something that starts with the letter…), shapes, texture, or sounds to provide clues for the item. The seeker will need to reclassify items as the objects change and will find that some objects can be classified as multiple things!
- The best part of this game is that no special equipment is needed! It can be played while waiting for something to start, while on a walk or drive, or even just sitting on the couch!
Physical Activity – Dirt Stew
The next time you can’t think of what to have for dinner, try this silly activity that will get some of those wiggles out while learning a little about caring for others and thinking creatively with this scavenger hunt!
- Grab a bucket, plastic bowl or pot (not the good ones – they WILL be getting dirty!) and fill it halfway with water (from the sink or the hose).
- Head to the yard.
- Collect items from the yard to create the “Most Delicious, Award-Winning” Dirt Stew. These can be specific items listed in advance, or creative choices made by the “chef” during the search. Some very good options are herbs and spices, grass and rocks, tree leaves and flower petals (only the dead ones!) and of course a handful or two of dirt.
- Once all items are collected, encourage your chef to demonstrate their best cooking show efforts in the preparation of the stew.
- While the stew “simmers,” the chef should prepare a dining area, complete with the fanciest table cloth and candles available (just kidding – rags and sticks work just fine here!).
- Practice table manners by ensuring every diner has a napkin and soup spoon (again, creativity wins here – what can you find to use as silverware and napkins? It is a scavenger hunt after all!)
- And of course, clean up is a breeze, as almost all items can be discarded back in the yard!
- DISCLAIMER: Don’t actually consume the stew!
Conversation Starters and Research Questions
- When have the members of your family participated in scavenger hunts? Have they been hard or easy? What was their favorite?
- Where and when was the I Spy game created?
- What other variations of scavenger hunts can you think of?
- Create a scavenger hunt that you can play with someone virtually. Share the list with them, collect your items while they collect theirs, and show them what you’ve collected!
Videos and Websites
- Jim Barnett ABC Scavenger Hunt https://youtu.be/oWj7YroBkrk
- Indoor Scavenger Hunt Example https://www.thirtyhandmadedays.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/indoorscavengerhunt.pdf
- How “I Spy” Books are Made video https://youtu.be/sz8luEznxbM
- I Spy Phonics video https://youtu.be/n4YaF-jXWuY
- 22 Scavenger hunt ideas website https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/parenting/g32050844/scavenger-hunt-ideas-for-kids/
Because we know you’re stuck at home with limited access to movies and books, we tried to compile a list that connects to today’s theme that you might already have in your collection or be able to access online. These include:
- I Spy Letters by Jean Marzolo https://youtu.be/dfNhIAuVvv8
- Pooh’s Scavenger Hunt by Isabel Gaines https://youtu.be/MsW9JWu-0bA
- Scavenger Hunt Adventure (series) by Catherine Aragon
- Max and Ruby’s Treasure Hunt by Rosemary Wells https://youtu.be/9lF7-c4aPtQ