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Scavenger Hunt for Kids

If you’re looking for a simple, free, fun and zero waste activity with your family, this is definitely a new go-to on our list. It’s also a great way to learn to love where you live. Have you tried a neighborhood scavenger hunt with your family?

During our spring break trip last week in California, we had quite a bit of downtime. This was somewhat by design and partially a function of staying with my sister, who had to work for a few days while we were there. Especially with the kids, we try not to overschedule our days and save time for spontaneous activities, like this spur-of-the-moment scavenger hunt.

This particular afternoon, we had no car and two little boys with more than their fair share of energy. We had already hit up the park and the pool earlier in the day. The boys were antsy to get out of the apartment. I decided to make a quick scavenger hunt of things that I expected we could find around the neighborhood.

I wanted the boys to use their creativity a bit so we made the items on the scavenger hunt list somewhat abstract. Here is the list.

Pizza Party | Nothing But Nails | Face Time | Green Wall | Holey Dessert | Swinging in the Shade | Mason Work | Home Run

Another of my sisters was also visiting, so each of us took one of the boys and set out to scavenge the neighborhood for the items on our list. The rules were simple.

  1. Take a photo of yourself with something that represents each item on the list in a way you interpret to be correct or meaningful.
  2. Return to the apartment with your photos (on a phone) and my sister who did not participate would award a point for each item on the list to the team with the best and most creative interpretation.

We included an even number of items on the list, so the team who completed the list and returned to the apartment first received one extra point for being the first finisher.  Essentially the time bonus was a tiebreaker if we each received an equal number of points.

Guess who won?! 

Although it was close, T and I beat J and my sister by one point. The extra point that we received for finishing first ended up being the tiebreaker to take home the victory.

We started the scavenger hunt right at the boys got antsy and were on the verge of getting into trouble. If you have little ones, I suspect you know the moment to which I’m referring.

This scavenger hunt totally saved our day! Instead of everyone’s attitudes tail-spinning into a disaster, we had a blast, everyone came back refreshed, and the boys asked to do another scavenger hunt the next day.

If you haven’t tried this with your family, I highly recommend it. You could do it in your neighborhood, in a local park, or even around your house. Further, choosing to include abstract items for the challenge really added a fun element to the game.

I’m sure we’ll be doing many more at home and during upcoming travels, whenever we need a little break for fresh air and a moment to regroup or distract from boredom.

Creating the list of items to find doesn’t have to be difficult. I threw together our list in just a couple of minutes. Particularly if you keep the items vague, it maintains the focus of the scavenger hunt on the team’s creativity and allows for more flexibility in terms of finding items in a reasonable time.

We included eight items on our list which took about 20 to 30 minutes to find in an urban neighborhood. Neither team walked more than a couple of blocks to find everything on the list. This seemed like just about the perfect length for our five and nearly seven-year-old boys.

Next time you’re looking for something to do for traveling or just filling a lazy Saturday afternoon, consider making up a fun simple scavenger hunt. It’s easy, free, zero waste, and so simple anyone can do it. Best of all, it’s fun for kids and adults alike, especially when you do it together.

Have you done scavenger hunts with your family? Tell me about them in the comments!

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