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Free Printable Backyard Scavenger Hunt for Kids

Kids love scavenger hunts, and your backyard is the perfect place to set one up! Today we are sharing our best tips to ensure a successful backyard scavenger hunt for kids plus a free printable list of items to find.

Group of kids doing an outdoor scavenger hunt. Text: Backyard scavenger hunt for kids.

A Backyard Scavenger Hunt: Easy Outdoor Fun

Ah…the thrill of adventure!

It’s the stuff that childhood memories are made of.

While it may seem like you have to spend a lot of money or take a trip to a far off destination, the truth is that adventure can be found anywhere you look for it – which is an important lesson to teach our children.

The past few years have taught us just how important it is for kids to spend time outside every day. 

In the U.S. kids spend an average of six hours a day in front of screens and this doesn’t even count distance learning.

Young children who should be spending their days running, jumping, and playing are instead lolling around on couches, zoning out on tablets, and rotting their brains on YouTube.

And the toll it’s taking on their health is real; pediatricians everywhere are reporting

  • Low levels of Vitamin D
  • Increased rates of obesity and heart disease
  • and decreased motor skills in young children.

As parents, we can help combat this epidemic by creating more opportunities for our kids to have fun outside the house.

And recent research shows that kids who spend more time outdoors are more likely to have better physical health, mental well-being, and social skills.

But how do we convince our kids to get up and get outside?

Plan a backyard scavenger hunt! Not only will it get them moving, but they’ll also learn how much there is to explore in your own backyard.

Outdoor scavenger hunt sign.

How to Plan a Backyard Scavenger Hunt for Kids

Scavenger hunts are easy to set up and can be enjoyed by kids of all ages from toddler to tweens.

Here are a few tips to make sure your backyard scavenger hunt is a success:

-Get involved! Your kids are much more likely to participate if you’re actively involved in the hunt too.

-Use a printable checklist in order to keep everyone on track. A list with images is great for younger children. (Below you will find 4 different printable versions that you can use)

-Make it a team effort. Working together as a team is a great way to build teamwork and problem-solving skills.

-Set some ground rules. Let your kids know what is and isn’t allowed during the scavenger hunt (no leaving the yard, for example)

-Get competitive. If your kids love competition, make it a competition to see who can find all the items on the list first.

-Don’t make it too easy. Make the list of items to find interesting and challenging, but not impossible. You want the kids to be able to find everything on the list.

– Set a time limit for how long the scavenger hunt will last. This will help keep everyone excited and focused.

– Have a prize waiting for the child who finds all the items on the list first (or whoever completes it in the shortest amount of time). The prize doesn’t have to be a toy or a gift – it can be something simple like getting to choose what’s for dinner or which movie to watch that evening.

Once you’ve got your backyard scavenger hunt lists printed out and set your ground rules you’re ready to get started!

Fun Backyard Scavenger Hunt Ideas

Heading outside for a scavenger hunt is always great, but what should you even look for?

Below you’ll find free printable scavenger hunts to use, but in case you’re just looking for a simple list of scavenger hunt ideas we’ve got you covered!

The Perfect Backyard Scavenger Hunt List

Use this list of ideas to help kids create their own scavenger hunt checklist or print one of ours below.

  • Tree
  • Grass
  • Bug
  • Bird
  • Stick
  • Rock
  • Mushroom
  • Feather
  • Butterfly
  • Ant
  • Flower
  • Acorn
  • Worm
  • Leaf
  • Airplane
  • Cloud
  • Bee
  • Spider

And while a traditional outdoor scavenger hunt is great, it’s even more fun when you have a specific theme for your hunt.

So if you’re looking for some unique or creative ideas, here are a few to get you started:

Sensory Scavenger Hunt

Instead of searching for specific items by name, get your five senses involved and search for items based on color, texture, sound, taste and smell. We have a printable version available at the bottom of this post.

Creature Hunt

See how many different types of animals and insects you can find in your yard.

Plant Hunt

Find as many different types of plants, trees, and flowers as you can.

Photo Scavenger Hunt

This is a great way to increase the fun factor during your scavenger hunt. Give each participant or team a camera or phone to take pictures in order to document the items that they find. At the end of the day create a slide show or photo book with the photos.

Use Riddles for Clues

Instead of just telling kids what to look for, engage their critical thinking skills by creating riddles to provide clues for a variety of objects that they can find in the yard. Not only will they have fun searching for the items, but they will also have a blast deciphering the riddles. This is a great option for older kids who balk at the idea of participating in an outdoor scavenger hunt.

Search by Color

Another way to put a unique twist on the traditional scavenger hunt is to find items in a variety of colors. Since kids love rainbows we suggest having them search for objects that are red, orange, yellow, green, indigo, blue, and violet. In the end, you could even use the found objects for a fun art project or nature craft.

Search by Letter

This is the perfect outdoor activity to keep young kids busy. Encourage them to find objects that begin with different letters. For example, find something that begins with the letter “A” (acorn, ant, apple tree etc).

Use a Magnifying Glass

This simple tool is a creative way to help kids discover an entire world that they’ve never seen before. Encourage kids to sit down on the grass and see what they can find when they look closely.  They will be amazed at the details and diversity that can be found when we take a closer look at the world around us.

Free Printable Backyard Scavenger Hunt Checklists

Ready to get outside and have some fun with your kids? Just print and go with one of these free outdoor scavenger hunts that we’ve created just for you.

There are three different versions plus a blank template for you to create your own checklist based on the items available where you live. Choose the version that will work best for your needs depending on whether you have little ones or older children.

Just click on any of the images below to access the printable you would like.

1. Backyard Scavenger Hunt with Pictures

Free printable backyard scavenger hunt

2. Checklist Style Backyard Scavenger Hunt

(This one also include the blank template for you to use if you want to create your own customized version.)

Backyard Scavenger Hunt Checklist Printable

3. Outdoor Sensory Scavenger Hunt

Printable outdoor sensory scavenger hunt

It’s our hope that providing these for you will make it easy for you to spend some quality time with your kids outdoors creating memories and forming a strong bond together.

Final Thoughts

I hope you enjoy these printable backyard scavenger hunts and that they provide you with hours of fun. What’s more, we hope that this will inspire you to get outside and have some fun together as a family in the fresh air and sunshine.

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