6 Outdoor Scavenger Hunt Ideas for Your Homeschool

I hope you and your kids are feeling adventurous and are ready to get out of the house to explore! Have you ever played a scavenger hunt before? Scavenger hunts are a great way to take your homeschool outdoors and have fun with your kids.

They are also great for team building, parties, finding your way around an unfamiliar place, or making new friends. In this blog post, I’ll share some ideas to help take your next homeschool scavenger hunt from basic to epic.

If you want more ideas on getting your kids outside and learning, check out my other articles: Fun Summer Homeschool Ideas: 16 Activities Your Family Will Love and 10 Ways to Get Your Kids Outside.

What is a scavenger hunt?

A scavenger hunt is a game in which the organizers prepare lists of specific items, and participants seek to complete all those tasks. Usually, players work in small groups or as individuals (depending on variations.)

The goal is to be the first to complete your list, but you can turn it into a cooperative family game where everyone involved searches for the items together.

Some versions have creative challenges for participants, like taking photographs, eating something new, or hunting at night.

Preparing for a scavenger hunt

Planning for a scavenger hunt is pretty simple. Decide on the location, day, and time for your event. Select objects you want participants to look for from common items that can be found or hidden in plain sight at the location of your choice.

To make it more challenging, you can create clues rather than listing the objects you want to be found. You may have to research an area beforehand if you’re exploring a new location. Also, don’t forget to type up and print out your list for each participant or team, then decide whether there will be prizes involved.

Types of Scavenger Hunts:

1. Backyard scavenger hunt

A backyard scavenger hunt is a great option for those with some outdoor space. The catch is that the scavenger hunt must stay in your yard, and items usually consist of everyday objects that can be easily found outside your home.

Make it challenging:

  • Find something that starts with each letter of the alphabet.
  • Studying plants or insects? Find specific species in your yard.
  • Find items that can be used to create something new.

2. Neighborhood scavenger hunt

A neighborhood scavenger hunt is a great way to explore your community, especially if you’re new to the area. One game variation is to go door-to-door asking for items on your list, but I prefer to expand our basic backyard scavenger hunt to our surrounding neighborhood.

Make it challenging:

  • Hide items around your block and create clues for the kids to solve.
  • Create a treasure or trail map for kids to follow.
  • Find specific locations or landmarks.
  • Combine all three from above for the ultimate neighborhood scavenger hunt!

3. Nature scavenger hunt

A nature scavenger hunt occurs outdoors, usually in your backyard, at a park, or on a trail. The goal is to search for items that are commonly (or not so commonly) found in nature, like pinecones, sticks, etc. You can find many scavenger hunt lists online, or you can download and print my FREE Nature Scavenger Hunt PDF to help you get started.

Make it challenging:

  • Instead of a traditional list, create a series of questions or clues.
  • Find specific plants and animals in the area.
  • Find certain items to create a fort or human-sized nest.
  • Identify animal tracks or scat on the trail.

4. Photo scavenger hunt

A photo scavenger hunt is where you take pictures instead of physically collecting items. This is great if you have access to a phone or camera. Pictures can be posted on social media or printed to make a collage or album. 

Make it challenging:

  • List common names of plants and animals and have your kids find the scientific names using photo identification apps such as Seek, Picture This, and Merlin Bird ID.

5. Field trip scavenger hunt

A field trip scavenger hunt is a great way to explore zoos, museums, and more. This is probably my favorite type of scavenger hunt. It actively engages your kids on a field trip because not all museums (especially the smaller ones or art museums) are interactive. To note, it will take a bit of extra effort on your part when creating a list of things your kids can find at your specific field trip location. 

Make it challenging:

  • Make a list describing artwork for your kids to discover.
  • List the scientific names of zoo animals instead of their common names.
  • Find often-overlooked items at a natural history museum.

6. Nighttime scavenger hunt

A nighttime scavenger hunt is definitely geared towards the adventurous and is fun to do when your kids have a sleepover. Your list should comprise items generally found at nighttime. Have enough flashlights or headlamps before your kids head outside to a secure location, like your backyard!

Make it challenging:

  • List the constellations and have your kids find each of them.
  • Write down the names of animals and flowers that usually appear at night.
  • Identify the sounds that are heard at night.

Final thoughts

Scavenger hunts are a fun way to take your homeschool outside. Whether you’re looking for an outdoor activity that can be tailored to different age groups, interests, or topics, there is sure to be something here for everyone!  From scavenging through nature and solving puzzles on hikes with family and friends to searching out clues in your backyard and discovering plants and animals’ scientific names, you have many options in this list.

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What is your favorite type of hunt? Please share in the comments below so we can help others find their perfect adventure too!

Xuan Klevecka is a Southern California-based homeschool mom, wife, and sometimes purveyor of vintage goods. She’s an Enneagram 5w4, a lover of good food, and a former middle school history teacher. You’ll either find her looking at road maps and daydreaming about her family’s next epic adventure or perusing recipes and cooking up a feast for the brood.


Hey, it's Xuan!

Homeschooling should be easy and joyful, not stressful and overwhelming. As a Homeschool Mentor and Slow Living Coach, I am here to support you and guide you through every step of your homeschooling journey.

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