Educational Scavenger Hunts and Treasure Hunts

nature-scavenger-huntScavenger hunts and treasure hunts are activities that people of all ages can get involved with and have a lot of fun via participating. Something many people don’t realize about scavenger hunts is that they are quite capable of being used for educational purposes. Gamification is a trendy term in many verticals of the business world right now. In the business world the thought is that people will perform tasks better if they get little rewards along the way to mark achievements and progress. In education, both parents and teachers know that students of all ages learn VERY EFFICIENTLY when there is a game or a even a competition involved as opposed to simple rote memorization. It is with these things in mind that I declare, that scavenger hunts for educational purposes are probably one of the most under utilized tools! The same is true for treasure hunts, and as a rule I’ll be lumping the two together throughout this article. For tons of scavenger hunt ideas you can use just click that link.

Why Scavenger Hunts for ESL

For ESL students scavenger hunts in the form of english clues can be very enlightening. The reason for this is that the types of clues used tend to be direct, but also slightly ambiguous. Attempting to sort through and reason through these types of clues forces students to think in terms of broad concepts rather than in terms of simple word for word translation. This “parsing concepts” vs “parsing single words” is a real difference maker in taking language understanding to a new level. You can check out these scavenger hunt clues and treasure hunt clues to see what you can incorporate into your lessons. Just be careful to choose clues that are appropriate for your students level of understanding (and maybe even choose a few from what you consider to be the next attainable level). If you do it as a scavenger hunt then even if someone isn’t able to figure out all the answers they’ll have some and they can each explain to each other the concepts they used to come up with the answer for each clue.

Scavenger Hunts for Standard Classes

Adults, do you remember anything from biology class? I don’t… well I remember I sat next to Courtney who was very hot. No… Wait! I do remember something from the actual class! I remember going on a field trip and doing a scavenger hunt involving animals and plant life at the nature center. I remember working together as a team to find examples of all of the items on the list so our group could have extra credit (which I needed b/c I spent too much time staring at Courtney). Seriously, that’s mostly it as far as what I remember about that class. Sure, I actually do remember some of the other things, but the things from that scavenger hunt were seared into my brain far better than any of the random book readings we did or lectures that we heard. Why? Because I was involved and because I absolutely had to learn a little bit in order to actually finish the “game”. I was able to be motivated by something other than “not failing”, and that different motivation made a HUGE DIFFERENCE in how much effort I put in to the lesson.


If you’ve used scavenger hunts in your classrooms, or played one with your own kids, you’ve seen how creative people can be when properly motivated. Kids that don’t seem to care are all of a sudden leading a group of the peers in an effort to beat out the competition. Kids that don’t seem to “get” what is being presented in a book can often times pick up difficult concepts by simply handling them in real life or thinking about them from a different view point.

Give it a try. It’s fun for everyone involved and requires an amazingly small amount of effort to set one up when you use the right resources to help you out!

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