Best Scavenger Hunt Clue Ideas
Whether it is for a party, team-building event, or scouting event, planning a scavenger hunt is a lot of work. I have been creating scavenger hunts for my children (ages 13 and 10) since my oldest was three, so I have gotten better over the years. I use a variety of tools to make the clues interesting and give the kids an age-appropriate challenge. Below are some of the different types of clues that I use to create a fun, entertaining hunt for any occasion.
It’s fun to watch people rack their brains trying to come up with the right clues, which is why "Atom Smasher's Word Puzzle Generator" (Google this term to find the page) is great for this purpose. This web page has a Wheel of Fortune puzzle generator that has up to four lines for you to type in your clue. Use underscore “_” to create a blank box. Then when you are done, you can print the picture out and use it as a clue. Below is a picture of one of the clues that I used for my children’s Christmas scavenger hunt.
Answer: Next clue is near the television
Rhyming clues usually take the most time to create but are worth it. The key is to be descriptive while still providing a challenge. If you enjoy rhyming clues and have the time for them, RhymeZone.com is a great site where you can type in the word that you need a rhyme for and are given tons of suggestions.
What's more fun than having to run to a mirror in order to read your clue? Kids love this after they figure out that the message is written backward, of course. If you don't have software that makes your message appear backward and your mind is too numb from creating all these clever clues to do it yourself, Upsidedowntext.com is the site to visit. Just enter your clue, and the mirrored text appears on the bottom text box . . . ti ot si ereht lla s'tahT
These types of clues are tons of fun, especially for kids. Figuring them out can take a bit, but it's a challenging addition to the hunt. Festisite.com is an awesome site that creates rebus (or is it rebuses . . . I don't know) for you. Just click on "rebus" at the top right of the page and type in your clue. Print it out and add it to your hunt. See if you can figure this one out:
Picture clues are great for younger kids, particularly if they cannot read yet. The first hunt I did for my daughter, she was only three and very into Blue's Clues. So, we put little Blue's Clues stamps on one side, and on the other, we drew the location of the clue (easy stuff, like a bathtub, TV, bed, etc.). She thoroughly enjoyed her first scavenger hunt, particularly her present at the end.
Another way of doing picture clues is to either take a picture or print an image of an object where you want to hide another clue, then cut the picture into about four or more pieces, as seen below. You can place each piece as an additional part of a clue so that at the end, the participants can gather up all the picture pieces to find their final prize.
Trivia clues fit into this category. They are especially useful for teachers who want to incorporate a hunt as part of their lesson plan. A good example is:
Add the year that Columbus founded America, by the age that George Washington was when he died, plus one. Divide this number by eight. The answer will provide you with the location of your next clue.
Then, of course, you can provide a paper with different codes, like 192= under the dining room table, 195= the mailbox, etc. Not only is this fun, but it’s a great way to teach kids about a piece of history. (By the way, the answer to the clue above is 195, in case you were wondering.)
Online clues are also useful if you want the participants to find a certain missing word. Just find a web page that has the name of an item where you plan to hide a clue, then write down the web address, paragraph number and word number on the clue. Using a web page as your hunting ground adds variety to your scavenger hunt.
Secret Code Clues
I once printed up a copy of Egyptian hieroglyphics and used it as a code. You can create your own using symbols or numbers. I have used pictures of a keyboard and numbered the keys. This is great because it actually provides two clues. First, the kids have to find a keyboard in order to solve the code, then they have to actually solve their individual clue. You can also use Morse code or even a telephone number pad as secret codes.
These clues are a little more challenging, so they are probably best for kids age 10 and up. Go to Festisite.com, click on "Maze" at the top right and insert your clue. The site gives you a PDF of your maze that you can print out, like the one above.
Draw a line with a highlighter from the start of the maze to the end. When you are finished, read the highlighted message.
Word Search Clues
Pick a place where you would like to hide your clue and write it down, either going across, down, backward, etc., like “PLANT.” Then pick a different word that does not have any matching letters as the letters in your clue word, like “COMB.” Ask the participant to cross out all the letters that are in the word “COMB,” thereby revealing the clue word. This is a simple clue to solve and can be used with kids 10 and under.
Finally, one of my favorite clues—the treasure map. No other clue matches the sense of adventure that this type of clue provides (IMO). This clue is best used if you are doing a neighborhood or park hunt, though it works well if you have a large house too.
Just draw out the hunting grounds and place a big X where the final treasure lies. As with the picture clues, you can cut the map up into four or more pieces and add them to certain clues. Once the participant comes to their final clue, they can tape up the pieces of the map they have collected and make their way to their "treasure."
There you have it, numerous ideas for creating scavenger hunt clues. Remember that creating these clues takes time, so give yourself at least three days to a week to prepare your hunt. It will all be worth it at the end. Enjoy!