Let’s Play: Fall Scavenger Hunts

What to Play? by Carrie St. John

Fall Scavenger Hunts

Our Septembers arrive with excitement for new teachers and school friends. There is also a bit of anxiety while we all adjust to the new changes—NEW teacher!, PE on Monday, new classmates, art on Friday before lunch, etc… We are searching for the new day-to-day routines. It’s an adventure as things quickly fall into place.

While the school schedule gets established, it helps if we start our after-school routine at home. Someone at my house craves downtime with a snack or a lazy walk home with friends and then any bits of homework before dinner and free time. Weekends become regular with Friday sleepovers and family fun. Having a fall party is part of our annual back-to-school routine.

On our summer road trip return drive in August, we started talking about party ideas. The number one 10 year old pick was a karaoke party. I would not torture Hilltown Families’ readers with a video of us practicing songs! Instead, here is my favorite pick: a scavenger hunt!

I did a little online search for a definition. In general, scavenger hunts simply have players gathering objects from a common list and bring them back within a set time frame. Perfect for a kid/family party. Fun. Easy. Indoor or outdoor. I could have them gather actual objects or take photos as documentation. I could even extend the hunt by having the kids use the objects after everything is gathered. With older kids or teams, we could turn it into a treasure hunt with clues and a step by step process. I think we will keep it simple. With a scavenger hunt we can put together a simple list of everyday objects from around the house and go. Easy. Fun. Play.

I decided to do our hunt inside. We took five minutes and each gathered objects from desk drawers, the kitchen, & bathroom cabinets and closets. We made a list and then carefully put items back so they could be spotted in a typical storage spot—the stapler resting on the desk by the computer. A few items were placed in crazy places—a fork on the shelf in the shower. Then we brought in the neighbor kid as a test so we can be ready for the party later.

Here is our list:

stapler, staple remover, rubber bands, safety pins, pencils, straws, goldfish, clothes pins, toy animals, tape, paintbrush, hair accessories, BandAids, shell from the beach, something knitted, scissors, fork, tape measure, marker, toothbrush, pen, hook, bike bell, ribbon, Swedish Fish, Legos, string, binder clips, car key, heart, hole punch, beads, twist ties

For the party, we are making a pile of the items on the dining room table after all players declare they are done. While I break out the snacks, the kids are joining in to make a sculpture of everything they found. We decided no prize for the first person to find everything or find the most. Just a fun hunt and project after with food, beverages and conversation.

Additional scavenger hunt ideas. Some of these ideas require players to have a camera for documentation.

neighborhood hunt
Search for house certain numbers, types of people—mail/delivery person or a baby, a blue house, two stop signs, a brick driveway, an oak tree…

fitness hunt
Search for a basketball hoop and shoot two baskets, do 5 sit-ups on a patch of grass, climb a set of monkey bars, ride a bike around the block…

people watching
Find a person with glasses, a teenager with colored braces, three men with beards, a purple shirt…

nature hunt
Collect a white feather, something pointy, a maple leaf, smooth bark, a gray rock, green moss, two acorns, an ant, something that starts with the letter C…

in the car
Look for a sign for a certain restaurant or food item, a cow, a chicken, a store name, a millage sign, a squirrel that did not make it across the road…

food hunt
This would involve the neighbors. Some advance coordination would need to take place to stock pantries. Given a recipe, players would search for all the ingredients we need for a meal together. Everyone brings back their finds, we cook and eat. A neighbor potluck with a game tossed in.


Carrie St. JohnCarrie St. John

Carrie was born, raised and attended university in Michigan. As a child she rode bikes and explored her rural neighborhood freely with siblings and neighbor kids. Mom and Dad never worried. The kids always made it home after hours wading in the creek and climbing trees in the woods. After college she moved to Kyoto, Japan to study traditional Japanese woodblock printing. In 1995, she began a career at a small Chicago firm designing maps and information graphics. Life brought a move to Northampton in 2001. Carrie completed her MFA at UMass in 2004. Her little love, Sophia, was born in 2005. The two live in downtown Northampton where they constantly make things, look forward to morning walks to school and plan each spring for additions to their plot at the community garden. Carrie continues to do freelance work for clients here and in Chicago.

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