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Scavenger Hunt, ages 5 to 7

Age: 3 to 8 Time: Under 1 hour
Materials: scavenger hunt clues; cardboard; pencil; string
Skills: Curiosity, Making Connections, Naturalist, Sensory, Focus & Self Control
Even though a “scavenger hunt” is a pretty directed activity (at least pretty directed for Tinkergarten®), there is power anytime you add the word “hunt” to a walk in the woods. So, the key is to add only a “pinch” of structure so kids can play the game in their own way. Even young explorers who are easily distracted can focus and make new discoveries when doing this simple twist on a hike. And, it really doesn’t have to take too much prep if you use one of our Tinkergarten scavenger hunt sheets. If you feel creative, though, make up your own using words and pictures. Just be ready to get off the trail and keep up with your explorer when he or she is on the hunt!

The Guide

  1. Get or make a set of clues: For younger explorers, you want to pick relatively concrete clues like “butterfly” or “creepy crawly creature” or “something soft.” Use clues that draw on as many senses as possible. For explorers ages 5-7, a mix between relatively concrete clues like “butterfly” or “creepy crawly creature” and abstract categories like “critters who build nests” can give kids the chance for both success and challenge. To help keep the focus on the scavenger hunt and not on trying to read text, include both pictures and text for these emerging readers. Download a sample of a Tinkergarten® scavenger hunt for kids ages 5-7.
  2. Attach clues to cardboard: Attach the sheets to cardboard and kids will be able to check items off as well as sketch certain items (We love to include at least one clue that gives kids this age the option to draw). Poke holes and use string so kids can hang them around their necks (being sure to hang them upside-down and use plenty of string so they are easy for kids to read and write on).
  3. Set them free to hunt: Even wee kids should wander as freely as possible during the hunt, always staying within sight of you or an adult in your troop. Before you set them on their way, set up boundaries and/or a rule to follow. Our stand-by rule is, “You can wander as far as you like, as long as you can still one of us.”
  4. Keeping track: Given crayon or pencil, kids can check each category as they find it to keep track of their progress. Some kids will love this. Other kids will want no part of writing or recording, but will prefer the thrill of the hunt. Follow each kid’s lead and let him or her record as little or as much as he or she likes. The important thing is that he is engaged in hunting and discovering.

  5. End and chat: End the scavenger hunt either when kids have found everything or when they seem to have had enough. Chat about the experience, ideally over a well-earned snack. Here are some ideas for questions: What was the trickiest category to find? Why? Are there any you still haven't found? What was the easiest category to find? Why? Did you discover anything new in the woods (on the beach, by the pond, etc) today?

Nothing piques interest and inspires kids to focus like a “hunt!” Kids will need to use several senses to find the variety of items and categories on a well-rounded scavenger hunt. It’s amazing how having a challenge like a scavenger hunt inspires kids to pay close attention to their surroundings and hold that focus for longer than usual. Searching for particular treasures or categories of treasure will naturally lead kids to want to hunt for more, building genuine curiosity. If you give kids increasingly open-ended or abstract categories like “Things that are soft” or “Evidence that an animal lives here,” they will practice making connections between what they see and the concept behind the category. Finally, the variety of categories in a hunt can really help kids realize the wide range of amazing creatures, plants and elements in the great outdoors.

 

Why is this activity great for kids?

  1. Get or make a set of clues: For younger explorers, you want to pick relatively concrete clues like “butterfly” or “creepy crawly creature” or “something soft.” Use clues that draw on as many senses as possible. For explorers ages 5-7, a mix between relatively concrete clues like “butterfly” or “creepy crawly creature” and abstract categories like “critters who build nests” can give kids the chance for both success and challenge. To help keep the focus on the scavenger hunt and not on trying to read text, include both pictures and text for these emerging readers. Download a sample of a Tinkergarten® scavenger hunt for kids ages 5-7.
  2. Attach clues to cardboard: Attach the sheets to cardboard and kids will be able to check items off as well as sketch certain items (We love to include at least one clue that gives kids this age the option to draw). Poke holes and use string so kids can hang them around their necks (being sure to hang them upside-down and use plenty of string so they are easy for kids to read and write on).
  3. Set them free to hunt: Even wee kids should wander as freely as possible during the hunt, always staying within sight of you or an adult in your troop. Before you set them on their way, set up boundaries and/or a rule to follow. Our stand-by rule is, “You can wander as far as you like, as long as you can still one of us.”
  4. Keeping track: Given crayon or pencil, kids can check each category as they find it to keep track of their progress. Some kids will love this. Other kids will want no part of writing or recording, but will prefer the thrill of the hunt. Follow each kid’s lead and let him or her record as little or as much as he or she likes. The important thing is that he is engaged in hunting and discovering.

  5. End and chat: End the scavenger hunt either when kids have found everything or when they seem to have had enough. Chat about the experience, ideally over a well-earned snack. Here are some ideas for questions: What was the trickiest category to find? Why? Are there any you still haven't found? What was the easiest category to find? Why? Did you discover anything new in the woods (on the beach, by the pond, etc) today?

Nothing piques interest and inspires kids to focus like a “hunt!” Kids will need to use several senses to find the variety of items and categories on a well-rounded scavenger hunt. It’s amazing how having a challenge like a scavenger hunt inspires kids to pay close attention to their surroundings and hold that focus for longer than usual. Searching for particular treasures or categories of treasure will naturally lead kids to want to hunt for more, building genuine curiosity. If you give kids increasingly open-ended or abstract categories like “Things that are soft” or “Evidence that an animal lives here,” they will practice making connections between what they see and the concept behind the category. Finally, the variety of categories in a hunt can really help kids realize the wide range of amazing creatures, plants and elements in the great outdoors.

 

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