How to organise a garden scavenger hunt
If there's one thing all kids have in common, it’s an almost insatiable appetite for exploring, whether that’s behind the living room sofa or running wild through the local woods. So how about organising something that sits somewhere between the two? An at-home scavenger hunt is a great way to ignite a child’s imagination, provide them with a sense of achievement and, of course, fill up some summer holiday time. They’re brilliant option for kids’ birthday parties too!
Step 1: Get prepared
While you can organise a small-scale scavenger hunt inside, we suggest setting this up out of doors where there’s much more room for action-packed adventure. Decide on how your outdoor area will work best - does your garden lend itself to a nature trail? Is there enough space for outdoor games? Are there plenty of places where you can hide clues and prizes? Once you’ve decided on all this, it’s time to prep the area so it looks fantastic and is hazard-free.
Step 2: Get organised
Organise your chosen space into fun ‘zones’, either by theme (jungle, seaside, pirates etc.) or activity, such as kids’ party games, a quiz or problem solving tasks. Once you’ve chosen the overall set up, consider exciting ways you can bring it to life. Decorate the space with brightly coloured garlands and bunting, and use realistic fake foliage and flowers to disguise any nooks and crannies where clues can be concealed. Tee pees are absolutely great for hiding things in and can also double up as a stop-off point for kids to look over any exciting bounty they may have collected along the way. You might want to introduce a refreshment station with a drinks dispenser too, particularly if it’s a hot day.
Step 3: Get creative
Make a survival pack for each team or player containing everything they may need for the hunt. This could include a homemade map, checklist, pad of paper and pencil, and maybe a few edible treats. Create a real sense of adventure by including items they wouldn't usually need - a compass, perhaps, or a pair of binoculars or magnifying glass. You could also include some fun accessories such as temporary tattoos or hats that fit in with the overall theme.
Step 4: Get stealthy
Choose exciting items for children to find along the way and hide them carefully. These can include easy-to-solve clues to the next point in the hunt, questions to answer written out on colourful card or as letters/on scrolls, and cool prizes that they can keep. Consider using camouflage, concealing things under plant pots, tying clues around tree trunks or door handles, or even covering some items in a thin layer of soil or sand (this works particularly well for anything fossil-related). Think about how you ultimately want the teams to work their way around the route, and how you can lead them in the right direction.
Step 5: Get thinking
Make this an exciting and informative experience which appeals to all the senses as well as the imagination. As well as including some favourite kids’ party games at each zone, you can incorporate music and sound with a ‘guess the song’ section, or even do a mini-quiz on identifying birds by song (the RSPB website is a great resource for this). If you have herbs growing in your garden, get the kids to pick some fresh parsley and taste it, or smell some mint and rosemary leaves to try to identify them that way. Weave in facts wherever you can so it’s a learning experience as well as tons of fun. Consider what tasks you can ask them to complete at each stage of the hunt - a puzzle that can then be kept, a word game to complete on a chalkboard, or an entertaining task with impressive results such as giant bubble making.
Top tip: Have a camera or camera phone to hand and encourage each child to record what they’ve learnt with a film or a photo along the way.
Step 6: Get involved!
While it’s geared up for children, adult participation will take this experience to the next level. This can be as simple and hands-off as providing drinks and snacks halfway round and shouting words of encouragement to each team, or you can get a bit more involved by prompting the kids to ask you for clues, or even adopting the persona of an explorer or fortune teller who can provide them with vital information as they make their way around the course. Round off the hunt by helping the children enjoy (read: destroy) a bright and bountiful piñata - the ultimate way to celebrate a successful afternoon's scavenging.
The only thing left to say is... let the hunt begin! And, if you take photos, please share and tag us on social media @partypieces.