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Spy Scavenger Hunt examples

Here are some ideas to help you get started with your very own Spy Scavenger Hunt! Use these suggestions as a starting point; add or remove steps, change them around, and use your imagination - if you don't have the exact items listed, just improvise!

parental free time - scavenger hunt by Robyn Welling @RobynHTV

Suggested story lines

1. The animals have escaped from the zoo, and the animal detectives need to find and feed them!

  • A cardboard box
  • Rubber bands
  • A lock and key
  • Several small stuffed animals
  • A treat/fruit snacks
Poke a hole in a cardboard box and hang a padlock (open/unlocked) in the hole - this is the zoo. With the first clue, lead the kids to wherever you've hidden the box; they should then be instructed, though a series of clues, to find the key, locate each of the escaped animals, lock them back up in the zoo, and then find the treat (which we'll call "animal food," but of course it's the kids' reward for completing the hunt). With each zoo escapee, I attached a clue (with a rubber band to the stuffed animal's paw) to find the next one.

2. A treasure has been stolen from the museum! The adventurers need to collect the treasure and catch the thief.

  • Treasure (several pieces of costume jewelry, coins, beads, rhinestones)
  • Patterned paper or envelopes to put each piece of treasure in
  • A doll or teddy to act as the thief
  • A reward (or getting to keep the treasure can be the prize)
Hide pieces of treasure around the house or yard, along with clues to find the next piece of treasure. Putting each one in an envelope or wrapped in a distinctive piece of patterned paper can help make them stand out as part of the hunt, and keep small items from getting lost between the couch cushions (not that that's ever happened to me... ahem). In the end, the kids are led to the "thief" - once they apprehend him, he can be exchanged for a reward! Alternatively, the treasure or the teddy bear itself can be the reward, or the adventure can be a reward in and of itself (gah, they don't always need a prize, do they?!?).

More ideas:
  1. Send the kids around to discover letter beads, which they add to a piece of yarn in the order they're found to spell out a secret message. When they're finished, tie the ends of the yarn together to make a necklace! If you don't have letter beads or if your kids are too small for real beads, you can make some by writing letters on short strips of paper, rolling them up and taping them in a loop.
  2. Set a kitchen timer for slightly longer than you think it will take the kids to complete the whole scavenger hunt, and hide it. Challenge the kids to follow the clues and find the timer before it goes off.
  3. Set your kids up as explorers! Make them each a passport by folding a few pieces of paper and stapling them together in the middle. As they follow clues, they can find stickers to "stamp" their passports with - this can be a great way to work in geography and cultural information!

Suggestions for clues

Clues can be tricky to come up with, especially if you want variety. Here are some ideas to get you started.
  • short poems ("Soon you'll have to search no more - the next piece of the puzzle is near a door")
  • pictograms (basically, draw a hint or make a simple sketch of the hiding spot)
  • draw a map
  • hide the location of the next clue in a word search puzzle (you can find word search generators on the web, like this one)
  • have them find a magnifying glass with one clue - write or print out a later clue in tiny letters that they'll need the magnifying glass to read
  • direct them to find something out of place in a certain room (for example, I once hid something in a plastic Halloween jack-o-lantern bucket under the dining room table, and told them the next clue was "in a room without people, inside an orange head")
  • have them find a password and direct them to a specific person (or you), so they can give the password to be told the next clue (this one's nice to use if you want them to check in with you during the game)
  • simple directions (take 10 steps to the left, walk to your window and look up, etc)
  • rebus (a series of pictures and letters that spell something when you sound them out, such as "H + {a picture of an ear}" can mean "here")
  • refer to something that would be familiar to the kids, like "Look in the noisiest toy" or "It's behind a picture of us at the lake"
  • word play ("Find the next clue or you'll get the BOOT" should lead them to look in the boots, "Go back to the start where you found your first clue or it's curtains for you" should lead them to the window in the room where the first clue was, etc)
  • highlight letters with a clue ("keep iT Up, you're just aBout finished" leads to the T-U-B - older kids can handle much longer words than that, or the letters can be out of order and will need to be unscrambled to find the next clue location)
  • describe where the next clue is without saying it ("Your next clue is nice and dry, even though it's surrounded by water" might be the kitchen or the bathroom)
  1. With the first clue give them a secret code, which they can use in an emergency to ask the Head Spy (that's you) for help.
  2. If part of their adventure is collecting items along the way, you don't have to limit your number of clues to the number of items they need to find. To make the game last longer, you can add as many clues in between items as you want. "Oh no, you just missed him, but he might be..." or "The treasure isn't here anymore, but the latest reports say it was seen..." can keep the fun going.
  3. Use it as a learning opportunity. As I mentioned above, you can easily work in lots of geography and social studies facts - you can even have looking up answers to questions become part of figuring out the clue! Math problems (age appropriate, of course), science, and really any other subject can all easily be incorporated.
  4. Don't forget to send them outside if the weather is nice! There are tons of hiding spots outside, just make sure you have proper supervision going on and all that.

    I hope you enjoyed yourself while you were here - and I hope you come back! Please share inappropriate giggles with me on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, or subscribe via email so you don't miss a thing!


    Anonymous said...

    Wow amazing ideas thanks so much!

    Anna said...

    OMG, why am I just reading this now? Such a great idea (and we have spring break in 10 days!).

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