Welcome to Simply Summer School—weekly activities and tips to keep your child learning and engaged over the summer vacation gap! Try out this week’s tips and activities to get your child motivated to keep learning!

Scavenger hunts are great teaching tools for children (and adults!). They can improve reading skills, problem solving skills and social skills! Read on for the ultimate list of ideas on how to use scavenger hunts at home and keep your child learning.

For young children, make a scavenger hunt list that includes pictures with the written word. This will help them learn to read new words and not be frustrated if they don’t know the written word since the picture is there. Provide them with a crayon to X each picture as they find the item on the list. Another thing you can do with younger children is make rhyming clues. Rhyming is a very important pre-reading skill and it makes the clues a little more fun!

For older elementary children, add items that will be harder to find. Sometimes I make the clues riddles or rhyming for children have to solve. Solving the riddle will tell them what they need to find. This makes scavenger hunts much more interesting and fun for older children! I even do this with my middle school age daughter. She loves solving the riddles! This website has great ideas for making clues more fun for kids!

Scavenger hunt ideas for young children (ages 3-6):

  • Insect hunts- How many bugs can you find?
  • Color hunts- Find as many things of a certain color as you can.
  • ABC hunt- Two variations depending on the age/level your child is at. You can give your child a paper with all the letters of the alphabet and they have to find each letter. Or you can do the same thing, only have your child find things that start with each letter instead! I saw a cute idea once to write the letters around the edge of a paper plate, cut slits between each letter and bend the letters over as you find each.
  • Treasure hunt- Create a treasure map for the children to find a missing treasure. Encourage them to draw their own maps!
  • Book hunts- Show a picture of the cover of the book with the name for the children to find.
  • Leaf hunts
  • Environmental print hunt- signs such as EXIT, Stop, Yield, etc…
  • In a sand box (or container of dried corn, pasta or rice), hide items for your child to find. This provides for HOURS of entertainment!!
  • Car ride scavenger hunts- Give your child pictures of things to find on a car ride, but keep it simple such as cows, trees, birds and airplanes.

Scavenger hunt ideas for school age children (ages 5-11):

  • States scavenger hunt- List facts about different states and have the children use books/internet to find which state matches each fact.
  • Outdoor scavenger hunt- Finding specific leaves, insects, trees.
  • Places around town- List local businesses and parks. Work as a team with a map to find the places around town!
  • Hide items (wherever you are-inside, outside, at home, at school!) that they have to find by solving clues.
  • Book hunt- List quotes from books and the children have to find the books they belong to.
  • Car ride hunt- Similar to the suggestion for younger children, make a list of items to find on car rides. This is a big hit on longer car rides. Try putting very specific things on the list such as a silo, car with a broken light, a semi-truck with a picture of a cow on it, and a police car with their lights on.
  • Glow in the dark hunt- Wait until dark for this scavenger hunt. Tell your child what items to find, in the dark, using only a glow stick for light! So much fun!