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Three Summer “Scavenger Hunts” You Can Do With Kids

Ah, the dog days of summer. It’s August, it’s hot, and only a few more weeks before Timmy and Mary are back in school. Well, unless you’re one of those cool progressive/brave moms who homeschool.

Regardless, here are three fun scavenger hunts you can do with your kids that are both fun and educational, plus one extra that you and your kids can do with friends or relatives over Zoom that is more just about having fun.

1. Find The Trees This one should be fun and keep you pretty local, and it can be done just by walking around the neighborhood with your hats and sunblock. The University of Utah published a version of this that is semi-formal (you can find it here), but by doing a bit of Googling you can discover other schools or nurseries that have one for your area. The idea here is to find examples of local trees in your area. This one even works for a study group, as kids can take pictures and email their set of findings to other students or friends. If you can’t find a formal scavenger hunt with specific trees you’re looking for, then a modified version is simply to find and identify five or so different tree species in your neighborhood.

2. 1 Square Meter of Science This one we’re stealing from Mr. Wizard from way back, but the idea here is to pick a single square meter of earth and study it. 1 meter x 1 meter and I’d say about one inch deep of soil. The “hunt” part is to identify every insect, leaf, root, rock, and piece of trash you find in there. Have your kids catalog how much life and variety one square meter of soil can actually have in it. Organisms, minerals, and plants. The goal should be to identify and catalog up to 10 things. And same as the Tree Hunt, this is a great one for kids to do with a study group, either in person or online.

3. The Time Traveler This hunt is about finding ways to tell time…clocks, watches, etc. And this might be more of a drive around one or at least walking around more of a ‘commercial area’, (shopping center, city center, a mall, etc.), but the goal is to find 5 to 10 ways to tell time, and record the time on each device, and see how quickly they can find that many…so, from the time they find the first device and record the time until they find the last device. Any type of device can work – clock on a wall? Someone’s cell phone? A watch? Footer displayed in the corner of your PC? A receipt timestamp when you buy them ice cream or pick up dinner? Any of those will work. Bonus points if they can find a Sun Dial!

4. Bonus! Do You Have Any…? Ok, here’s the fun one that is based on a former UK Gameshow, and just guessing you won’t get sued if you do it… it’s designed around a Zoom (or Facetime/etc.) chat for a group of at least 2 but preferably 4 people, kids especially. You make a list of common household items, maybe 5-10 or so, such as toilet paper, a nail file, a measuring cup, a pair of gloves, etc. So each person sits in front of their screen, the item gets called out, and then they go find it and get it back to be on screen before anybody else does. The idea is to see not only who’s fastest but also who has each item, so you can set up a scoring of 1 point for having each item and 1 point for being the fastest for each item.

Scavenger hunts are a great way to create challenging, physical games that challenge creative thinking. And as a bonus, your kids won’t be playing video games or watching Disney+ all day! Do you have any scavenger hunts you've enjoyed? Share in the comments below!

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