Our unwelcome nationwide experiment has confirmed our suspicions: Working full-time from home while keeping young kids educated and entertained is impossible. Toddlers and preschool-age kids aren’t developmentally ready for extended solo playtime, and even if you’re not opposed to parking them in front of screens, they’ll eventually get bored. What you need is a safe, reasonably educational, and time-consuming activity that requires only half-distracted parental assistance. Believe it or not, such a thing exists: the scavenger hunt.
A form of good clean fun, the scavenger hunt, like hide-and-seek, is as old as time; scavenger hunt clues give parents a chance to be creative, and the hunt helps kids see their everyday surroundings in a new light while developing problem-solving skills. Scavenger hunts are, most importantly, something kids can do mostly on their own, buying parents some time to do what they need to do. For younger kids, a simple list of pictures can serve as the type of scavenger hunt where kids just need to find one of each item. To up the ante, lend them your phone and let them take photos, or adapt it for the backyard. To really up the stakes, turn off the lights in a room and have kids search for items with a flashlight.
Indoor Scavenger Hunt Clues
- A picture of you as a baby
- Something soft
- Something you can wear
- An eraser
- Something that smells good
- Something spiky
- A paperclip
- A crayon with a funny color name
- Something heart-shaped
- A miniature toy version of something adults use (a toy truck, play food, doll clothes, etc.)
- One of your drawings
- A pair of shoes that don’t fit
- Something shiny
- Something with legs
- Something small enough to fit inside a lunchbox
- Something hairy
- A game
- A key
- Something you can spread
- Something that’s your favorite color
- Something that could help clean up a spill
- Something that helps you sleep
- A type of food you don’t like
- Something that turns on and off
- Something you can see through
- Something you can’t see through
- Something that makes a sound
- Something that moves on its own (e.g. a slinky, a pet, or a marble)
- Some sort of box
- A ball
- Something that’s used to carry other things
Category Scavenger Hunts for Kids
- Something from each color of the rainbow: an object that’s red, one that’s orange, and so on… yellow, green, blue, and purple.
- An object (book, paper, shirt) that has the letter A. Then find an object with the letter B. Continue for the rest of the alphabet.
- Something you can feel, something you can smell, something you can taste, and something you see.
- Something soft, something rough, something squishy, something hard, and something liquid.
- As many things as you can find for every shape: circle, square, triangle, rectangle.
- As many things as you can find with flowers on them.
- As many question marks as you can find.
- Things that could fit inside an envelope.
- Things that start with the same letter as your name.
- A collection of all of your favorite things: something that’s your favorite color, smell, thing to cuddle, shirt, shoes, favorite snack, best gift, and favorite book.
Outdoor Scavenger Hunt Clues
For those with access to a backyard, an outdoor scavenger hunt is as simple as compiling a list of things for your child to find. Kids can either collect each item or take a photo of it.
- A flower
- A worm
- A three-leaf clover
- A leaf with four points
- A stick
- A spiderweb
- A bug
- An acorn
- A pebble
- A feather
- A piece of moss
- A pine needle
- A gardening tool
- A puddle
- A cloud
- A seed
- A flower that hasn’t bloomed yet
- A flower petal
- A flower stem
- A bird
- A squirrel
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