Scavenger Hunt Clues for Children

Susie McGee
girl searching for clues

Scavenger hunt clues for children can be puzzles, riddles, or simple drawings. Whatever clues are given should be age appropriate so children don't get too frustrated trying to decipher the clues they receive. Whether you copy clues from another source or create your own, scavenger clues will motivate kids to use their investigational skills and hunt down the listed items as quickly as possible.

Creating Scavenger Hunt Clues for Children

Children love participating in scavenger hunts or treasure hunts and this activity is a great option for birthday parties, school field days, slumber parties, family reunions, and holiday get-togethers both indoors and outdoors. Before you design a scavenger hunt, consider the following about the ages of the intended participants. Create home treasure hunt or school scavenger hunt clues that are appropriate for the ages involved:

Preteens and Teens

If the treasure hunt will include preteens and teens, go ahead and make up some head-scratching clues. Older children love the challenge of solving a riddle just as much as they do finding the actual items, so give them clues that make them think. Cryptograms and word searches are great clue options for this age group.

Preschool and Elementary School Children

Scavenger hunts should be fun. Create riddles that are suitable for children who can't read by using pictures, drawings, and pictograms of the objects they need to find. If the riddles are particularly difficult and several kids are playing, allow participants to work in teams or with a partner.

Sample Riddles to Solve

solving clues together

The following scavenger hunt clues for children can be modified according to the number and age of the participants.

Take a Digital Picture of a Hidden Toy

Be sure to pan out just enough in the picture to give visual information of other items in the room so the child knows in which area of the house or classroom to look.

Create a Trail

Using a series of small toys or candies, hide items throughout the area with a picture of the next area as a clue. As children find each item, they move on to the next item and clue. If several children are playing, be sure there is enough of each item to ensure that each child can take one before moving on to the next.

Create Cryptograms

Print out a list of items designed like a cryptogram. Kids have to spell out words based on the cryptogram meanings before they can begin their scavenger hunt.

Create Word Scrambles or Word Searches

Give each participant a list of items in which the words are scrambled. Kids have to work quickly to unscramble the words before they can begin searching for the items. Use word searches this way too. Use scrambled teacher names to help kids meet all the school staff in an orientation scavenger hunt.

Historical Clues

Teach a history lesson and design a fun scavenger hunt all at the same time. For example, "The Boston ______Party is still talked about in history books today." Of course, the missing word is "Tea", and once children figure this out, they head to the cabinet to grab a tea bag.

Puzzle Clues

Make your own puzzle clues by taking a digital picture, printing it out, and cutting it into several pieces. The number of pieces you cut the picture into really depends on the age of the child. Too many pieces will be too difficult for young children to work with. Hand the pieces to children and tell them they must put the picture puzzle together to see the clue for the item they must find.

School Scavenger Hunt Clues

If you want to help elementary, middle school or high school kids get to know their teachers or school building, a school scavenger hunt can help.

School Staff Picture Clues

Help younger kids meet different staff members at school by providing pictures of each teacher or administrator as the clues. Instead of finding an object or location, kids will need to find the pictured staff members. For older kids and teens you could have kids search for every place a teacher's name or image is displayed in the school, like on their mailbox and outside their classroom.

Picture Book School Locations Clues

Use picture books with titles or settings that feature rooms in your school as the clues. Kids will need to either look at the titles or read the books to figure out which locations they need to find. Individual titles you could use include The School Nurse From the Black Lagoon, The Principal's New Clothes, or Lunch Lady and the Video Game Villain. Comprehensive school picture books such as The Gingerbread Man: Loose in the School by Laura Murray also work when kids are challenged to find all the places the main character travels to.

Teacher Icebreaker Clues

Create a list that includes one fun fact unique to each teacher or important staff member in your middle school. Tweens will need to find out who each fun fact is about by talking to all the teachers to finish the scavenger hunt. You can use icebreaker questions as inspiration for the teacher fun facts.

School Staff Self-Portrait Clues

Each staff member should draw a self-portrait using crayons to be used as a clue. Kids of any age can try to find the correct staff member who matches each self-portrait clue.

Planning Hunts

Whether you are hosting a scavenger hunt for the neighborhood kids or planning some birthday party entertainment, a well-planned treasure hunt will provide lots of fun for kids of any age. Don't forget to have prizes on hand to distribute among the winners. Prizes could include gift certificates, candy, award ribbons, and small toys. Scavenger hunts are great activities for just about any party or get-together and creating your own clues will give you the advantage of designing an activity that is perfect for the participants.

Scavenger Hunt Clues for Children