How to Set Up a Scavenger Hunt at Home for Kids

by Molly Thompson, Demand Media
    Little girls might enjoy a dress-up scavenger hunt.

    Little girls might enjoy a dress-up scavenger hunt.

    A scavenger hunt can occupy a group of youngsters, even if you have to do it inside. And, as the saying goes, you can do one "with things you already have around the house" -- in other words, you don't have to break the bank to do a scavenger hunt. Make a list of items that are all one color, or words in favorite kids' books, or things in sets of five -- whatever will appeal to your hunt participants and is easy to pull together in your home.

    Items you will need

    • Items to hide
    • Paper
    • Colored markers
    • Construction paper
    • Scissors

    Step 1

    Decide on the theme of your hunt. For young children, make it something enjoyable, but simple. Finding clues in familiar children's books, searching for common household items or searching for a complete outfit and dressing up in their parent's clothes are fun, silly options for the preschool crowd.

    Step 2

    Make lists of the items you want the kids to find on their hunt. If you've got some non-readers in your group of little ones, use simple pictures or other easily-recognizable symbols to represent each item the kids need to find. Limit the number to eight or 10 items for this age group, so they don't feel overwhelmed or lose interest in the hunt.

    Step 3

    Locate the items around the house in areas where kids have access. The things they're hunting for don't have to be right out in the open, but don't make it so challenging that the hunters get frustrated. If you're using children's books, for example, put the book on a shelf with 10 or 12 others, not in a room full of books. And be clear about what they're looking for: Don't say "find the red toy truck" if there are six red trucks in the toy box. Instead, specify "find the red fire truck" or "find the red truck with a white circle on the side."

    Step 4

    Block off the parts of the house that are off-limits to your little scavengers. For safety reasons, bathrooms should be off-limits, as well as formal living rooms or dining rooms full of breakables. For very young scavenger hunt participants, consider putting a big green construction paper circle on rooms or areas where they can look and a red paper stop sign for rooms they shouldn't enter.


    • Make sure you have enough helpful teens or adults around to supervise your hunters, preferably one per team.


    • Before you turn the kids loose in the house, put away all medicines, sharp items or other things that could be harmful to the kids.

    About the Author

    Molly Thompson has been writing for classified U.S. government presentations and publications since 1980. She holds B.A. degrees in psychology and political science from Wellesley College, as well as an M.A. in Russian area studies from Georgetown University. Thompson established and runs a strategic analysis/research company and is also a professional genealogist.

    Photo Credits

    • Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images