Designing a Scavenger Hunt

Whether you’re looking for a fun and easy activity for a birthday party, a neighborhood gathering, or just an ordinary day, scavenger hunts are a great way to encourage kids to engage with their environment. Not only will the hunt get them moving, but will also motivate them to use their minds to figure out each clue in pursuit of the next. Don’t forget to pack water, sunscreen, and a healthy snack!


  • Setting: You want enough room to let the kids roam, but not enough to let them get lost. For younger kids, it may help to do the hunt as a group, or with adult “buddies.” For older kids, consider going outside to a school playground, park, or the beach.
  • Preparing the clues: Start with the final clue and work backwards, writing and hiding the clues around the search area. Each clue should lead to the next, and remember that the last clue that you write should be placed at the starting point of your game. It’s a good idea to start off easy and increase the difficulty as the hunt goes on.
  • Timing: You should adjust the number of clues, or length of the hunt, to the age of the kids. Older kids will be able to keep their attention and patience up for longer, so usually choosing somewhere between 5-15 clues is enough. Also, you should decide if the kids will go after individual prizes, finding one at each clue, or if you want one big treasure waiting at the end.
  • Ending the hunt: The last clue should lead to some larger treasure or activity as a reward for finishing. This can be a prize for the winners, or can be something everyone can enjoy, like a parfait party or a make-your-own pizza night!


  • Choosing a theme for the search can make finding the clues more interesting and exciting. Here are some examples:
    • A cooking inspired hunt, where each clue is an ingredient or recipe
    • Get everyone in costume for a pirate themed treasure hunt
    • Some more themed hunt ideas here
  • Create a simple rules sheet for the kids to carry with them (any places that are off-limits, who to ask if you get stuck on a clue, emergency contact numbers if anyone gets lost)
  • Ideas for writing your clues: come up with simple rhymes and riddles, or use pictures, letter scrambles, and puzzles


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