Photo Scavenger Hunt


Spring Break is a lot more fun when you’re over the age of 16. Or if your parents have a lot of disposable income. Neither of these is true here in the Hippie Household, so we are doing some baking and cooking projects, and we are making the most of local fun spots like the library, park district facilities, and Nido Art Studio (if you are anywhere near Aurora, IL, check out this wonderful creative space – they are doing Open Studio time each morning this week). With Baby Hippie, though, Little Hippie and I are still confined to the house for a couple of long stretches each day. We needed a new game.

Enter the Scavenger Hunt. I loved them as a kid, but had packed the idea away as one of those quaint traditions that could not possibly take place with all of the dangerous strangers lurking behind closed doors today. If you have a kid-friendly digital camera and a few good ideas, though, this becomes a safe and free activity for one kid or one hundred.

There are tons of “kid” cameras on the market, but we have found the most success with a cheap used one that we found on Craigslist for a steal. It was much less expensive than the ones from Discovery Kids and Fisher Price, and it does a lot more. Little Hippie just uses the basic functions – point, shoot, review. She loves taking pictures of just about everything. Here are a few of the hundreds she shot after figuring out the camera:

For a photo scavenger hunt, participants are given a list of shots to capture. These can be done in any order. If only one camera is being used, the hunters can sit and review the shots with you at the end. If you are lucky enough to have a bunch of kids and cameras participating, give instructions that each camera should be turned in with a numbered list of the shots so you know which is which. If you are working with younger kids, give them one or two clues at a time (the younger the hunter, the more work you will be doing on their adventure. Go with it, though – it beats the heck out of playing Candyland with them. Take special note of the items that require an activity first, like “your clean room” or “art you created”).

Here are the clues I am giving to my preschooler for her Scavenger Hunt. Below them, you will find other ideas if you want to design your own.

We are making a photo album – let’s get pictures of:

  1. A real animal
  2. Something blue
  3. A piece of art you created
  4. A machine
  5. Your clean room
  6. A plant with buds
  7. Something that makes you smile
  8. Something you cook with
  9. Something slippery
  10. Something shiny

At 4 years old, we will be lucky if she does half of these, but this is an activity that we can keep coming back to. I am really looking forward to her responses to the more open-ended prompts, like the thing that makes you smile.

Here are some other ideas that went onto my brainstorm list. Older kids (and adults) will enjoy the more abstract ideas.

  • A patch of green grass
  • Initials in concrete
  • A liquid, a solid and a gas
  • Something green (any color or shape)
  • Something sporty
  • Something silly
  • A book you like to read
  • Something warm (or cold)
  • Something fun
  • Something messy (for the brave parents)
  • Something great
  • Something huge (or tiny)
  • Something that smells really good (or bad)
  • Something heavy
  • Something noisy
  • Song titles: I got the photo scavenger hunt idea from a beginning-of-the-year retreat that all of the teachers from my school took right before my first year of teaching. We were divided into teams and given a list of song titles that we had to represent with our photos. The photos from each team were combined into a slide show that played over each of the songs. It was a riot – especially the renditions of “Teach the Children Well.” Coming up with ideas was challenging and fun, and staging them was elevated to an art form by some of the groups. Our songs were all school-themed, but you can use pop titles (“Secrets,” “Mine,” or whatever crap those kids from “Glee” are singing these days), nursery rhymes (“Are you sleeping?”), Oldies (“Shake it Up, Baby”), etc.
  • Movie titles or TV shows.
  • Book titles

Good luck keeping everyone entertained and sane!

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