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30 Creative Scavenger Hunt Ideas to Hone Your Kids' Observational Skills

These indoor and outdoor activities turn kids into little detectives!

Scavenger Hunts for Kids
iheartcraftythings

Every kid gets the I-have-nothing-to-do blues from time to time, so it's best for parents to have a few boredom-busting activities in their back pockets for when the need arises. A scavenger hunt for kids is the perfect diversion. They don’t require much at all — you can work to make them fit in whatever setup you have, taking whatever time you need to fill. They're easy, inexpensive, they can be indoor activities or outdoor activities (so they work in any weather) and they can often be done using things you already have at home.

Though these treasure hunts can feel like a throwback activity, the scavenger hunt ideas we’ve found are anything but old-fashioned. Whether you’re looking for a stealth learning activity, a way to enhance a walk or hike, an opportunity to entertain the kids during holidays, an interactive way to instill a love for reading or a chance to up kids’ sensory experiences, we’ve got you covered. We’ve rounded up a variety of different scavenger hunts — the majority of which can be done at or close to home — to get your creativity flowing.

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1 Indoor Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger Hunt Ideas - Indoor Scavenger Hunt
Hey Let's Make Stuff

A day spent inside is anything but boring with this creative at-home scavenger hunt. The best part: Kids can interpret many of the clues — to “find something with eyes” or “squishy” as they see fit.

See more at Hey Let’s Make Stuff »

RELATED: Amazing Indoor Activities for Kids' Rainy-Day Fun

2 Backyard Insect Scavenger Hunt
backyard bug scavenger hunt in scaventer hunt ideas for kids
The Soccer Mom Blog

There are lots of creepy crawlies in the world, and you usually don't have to adventure far to see them. Give them a magnifying glass and let them exercise their scientist skills as they examine the local insect scene.

See more at The Soccer Mom Blog »

3 Sight Word Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger Hunt Ideas - Sight Word Scavenger Hunt
Hands On as We Grow

This word scavenger hunt is a great way for your elementary schooler to work on their word recognition without flash cards or worksheets.

See more at Hands On as We Grow »

RELATED: Fun Learning Activities for Kids to Enjoy at Home

4 Art Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger Hunt Ideas -
Buggy and Buddy

Budding artists will appreciate the added element — drawing! — that makes this outdoor scavenger hunt unique. Plus, they’ll get to try their hand at creating everything from squirrels to flowers.

See more at Buggy and Buddy »

5 Secret Code Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger Hunt Ideas - Secret Code Scavenger Hunt
The Dating Divas

For a different take on the traditional hunt, have kids search for hidden clues — then put them all together to discover a secret message. Bonus: This is a great one for siblings to attempt together!

See more at The Dating Divas »

RELATED: The Best Camping Activities for Families to Try This Season

6 Alphabet Bug Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger Hunt Ideas - Alphabet Bug Scavenger Hunt
No Time for Flash Cards

Little ones will get a kick out of this bug-themed scavenger hunt —and learn to tell the difference between their upper and lowercase letters in the process.

See more at No Time for Flash Cards »

7 Color Scavenger Hunt
scavenger hunts for kids  color scavenger hunt
I Heart Crafty Things

This fun color-themed scavenger hunt can help toddlers learn their colors, while older kids discover all the different hues that can be found all around them.

See more at I Heart Crafty Things »

8 Five Senses Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger Hunt Ideas - Five Senses Scavenger Hunt
Chaos and Clutter

Kids will get the chance to touch, smell and even hear nature in this creative outdoor sensory scavenger hunt, which includes clues like whistling with grass and cloud-watching.

See more at Chaos and Clutter »

RELATED: The Best Sensory Toys for Exploring Different Textures, Sights, and Sounds

9 Movement Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger Hunt Ideas - Movement Scavenger Hunt
The Inspired Treehouse

For another take on a sensory hunt, add some additional movement, like in this version, which features fun — and active — to-dos, like looking for objects to jump over, crawl under, or roll across the ground. It was created by an occupational and physical therapist.

See more at The Inspired Treehouse »

10 Shape Scavenger Hunt
scavenger hunt ideas   shape scavenger hunt
The Many Little Joys

Kids will love pointing out the circles, triangles, squares and lots of other fun shapes they find while on an outdoor walk, thanks to this shape-themed scavenger hunt. On rainy days, you can easily modify this to do indoors.

See more at The Many Little Joys »

11 Reading Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger Hunt Ideas - Reading Scavenger Hunt
Modern Parents Messy Kids

Take your child’s love of reading up a notch with this book-themed scavenger hunt, which includes 25 diverse prompts, including finding out friends’ favorites or trying different genres.

See more at Modern Parents Messy Kids »

12 Flashlight Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger Hunt Ideas - Flashlight Scavenger Hunt
Life Is Sweeter By Design

Break out those camping-use-only flashlights for this at-home scavenger hunt — and see what kids can, well, see at night as they search for rocks, leaves and other backyard staples.

See more at Life is Sweeter By Design »

13 Nature Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger Hunt Ideas - Nature Scavenger Hunt
Alice and Lois

Next time you head out on a family hike, take along this fun nature scavenger hunt, and challenge your kids to spot everything from bugs to butterflies.

See more at Alice and Lois »

14 Mandala Scavenger Hunt
scavenger hunt ideas   mandala scavenger hunt
Little Pine Learners

Forget the cupcakes! Put your muffin tin to new use with this outdoor scavenger hunt idea. Bonus: it’s a fun way to introduce kids to what a mandala is — and how to put them together.

See more at Little Pine Learners »

15 Changing Seasons Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger Hunt Ideas - Changing Seasons Scavenger Hunt
The Purposeful Nest

Looking for signs of spring? We’ve got one: This spring-themed scavenger hunt, which is the perfect way for kids to spot buds and bunnies.

See more at The Purposeful Nest »

16 Autumn Scavenger Hunt
scavenger hunt ideas for kids  fall scavenger hunt
Crafts by Amanda

Break out the boards and hunt again when the weather starts to cool! A fall scavenger hunt will have you looking for colored leaves, pumpkins and other seasonal delights.

See more at Crafts by Amanda »

17 Winter Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger Hunt Ideas - Winter Scavenger Hunt
Seek Adventures

If the weather is chilly in your neck of the woods, don those hats and gloves and go on this fun winter scavenger hunt, where kids can search for cold weather favorites like pinecones and icicles.

See more at Seek Adventures »

18 Zoo Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger Hunt Ideas - Zoo Scavenger Hunt
Sarah White

Lions, and tigers, and … monkeys, oh my! Kids will get the chance to up their animal-spotting skills while at the zoo, thanks to this zoo-themed scavenger hunt, complete with adorably-designed wildlife.

See more at Sarah White »

19 Football Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger Hunt Ideas - Football Scavenger Hunt
Celebrate Every Day With Me

There’s no need to wait for the Big Game to try this football-themed scavenger hunt — just cue up a game and kids can start pointing out the quarterback, a touchdown and more.

See more at Celebrate Everyday With Me »

20 Halloween Scavenger Hunt
scavenger hunt ideas for kids  halloween scavenger hunt
Happiness Is Homemade

Add an extra level of "treats" to trick-or-treating with a Halloween scavenger hunt. Whoever finds the most gets an extra piece of candy!

See more at Happiness Is Homemade »

21 Christmas Scavenger Hunt
scavenger hunt ideas for kids  christmas scavenger hunt
Sugar and Cloth

When kids are waiting to open presents, the minutes feel like hours. Give them a way to entertain themselves with this holiday scavenger hunt. You can even give them instant cameras and tell them to try and photograph the items on the list.

See more at Sugar and Cloth »

22 Valentine's Day Scavenger Hunt
scavenger hunt ideas for kids  valentine's day
White House Crafts

Of the many fun Valentine's Day games you can play with kids, either individually or in a class, a scavenger hunt is the simplest. Get them hunting for hearts, and they're sure to find them everywhere.

See more at White House Crafts »

23 Easter Scavenger Hunt
scavenger hunt ideas for kids  easter
The Best Ideas for Kids

Take their egg-hunting game to the next level with a series of hare-scratching clues. Make sure this egg comes with a special prize!

See more at The Best Ideas for Kids »

RELATED: Creative Easter Egg Hunt Ideas for the Sweetest Search Yet

24 Birthday Scavenger Hunt
ShopHadleyDesigns
ShopHadleyDesigns

On the big day, one of the presents should be this clue-based birthday hunt. You can edit the font, the colors and wording of the the clues before you print.

25 Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt
WandererDesignShop
WandererDesignShop

Show kids all there is to discover in their nearby streets with this around-the-block scavenger hunt — and spot everything from bikes to birdhouses.

26 Beach Scavenger Hunt
WandererDesignShop
WandererDesignShop

When it's time to hit the beach, remember to bring the sunscreen, the towels — and this checklist of items to find. While they're off hunting, you can get a moment to relax in the sun.

27 Leaf Scavenger Hunt
Etsy/MintyPines
MintyPines

Add an Earth science lesson to your hunt with this “What Trees Are in Your Neighborhood?” scavenger hunt, which helps kids ID various leaves and figure out which trees are on their streets.

28 Princess Scavenger Hunt
Etsy/StarrySkyPrintables
StarrySkyPrintables

Let your little one dress up in their favorite princess outfit — tiara and all, of course — and then give this Fairy Princess Scavenger Hunt a try.

29 Doctor's Office Scavenger Hunt
WandererDesignShop
WandererDesignShop

Are they nervous about their next check-up? Give them a place to channel their anxious energy by having them hunt for these items in the waiting room and exam room.

30 Things I Love Scavenger Hunt
Etsy/WainboughCo
WainboughCo

What’s your child’s favorite shirt? Or the toy they actually don’t mind sharing with their sibling? Find out with this “On a Hunt for the Things I Love” scavenger hunt, which also gets them to practice listing things they're grateful for.

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