I was first introduced to the idea of a virtual scavenger hunt by my son’s first grade teacher. Amidst COVID quarantine, she was making extra effort to keep her students engaged while participating in Zoom lessons. One time she challenged them to step away for a few minutes to find something that made them happy. When they returned, everyone had a chance to share their item with the class.
Later, this creative teacher instructed the children to find something with buttons, then something with numbers on it, and then something they had made. Needless to say, this activity was a hit, and my young son was eager to join his Zoom class the next time.
Regardless of whether or not you are quarantined, you are sure to enjoy a virtual scavenger hunt. It could be a particularly fun way to connect with family members who are living far away at college, out of the country, or for work. It’s also a great way to build comradery with colleagues who work remotely. Whatever the occasion, a virtual scavenger hunt will help everyone in your group feel connected, even when they’re physically far apart.
One of the best parts of a virtual scavenger hunt is how easy they are to do. Plus there’s something about a good, old-fashioned search that appeals to people of all ages. That’s why Easter egg and treasure hunts are so popular! Although it’s a simple activity, a virtual hunt is guaranteed to entertain everyone, from preschoolers to teens to adults. It’s a great activity to include as part of a virtual birthday party!
How to Plan a Virtual Scavenger Hunt
Setting up a virtual scavenger hunt is easy and stress-free. In five easy steps, you can quickly put together an awesome hunt of your own!
Start by deciding who you want to include in your scavenger hunt. The group could consist of friends, family, or coworkers. While any age group would enjoy this activity, you’ll want to invite people of roughly the same age to participate in order to tailor your list to the group’s interests. For instance, young kids would like a Disney-themed hunt, while teens may prefer something like a selfie challenge.
This is one of those activities in which the old adage is true: the more the merrier! Just keep in mind that you’ll want to give everyone a chance to share their findings, so if the group is too big it might take too long to get through everyone.
Set up a time
Once you’ve settled on a guest list, send out some sort of invitation. Any kind of invitation will work; it just depends on if you prefer an electronic invite or an old-fashioned paper one. Whatever you decide to do, an invitation will build anticipation and make the virtual scavenger hunt feel like a big event.
Just like any invitation, yours needs to include a set date and time. Keep in mind that while you can do a virtual scavenger hunt in less than an hour, you can also give participants a full day to work on their lists. You’ll have a good time with both options, so determine what works best for you and your group.
Make a list of items to find
This may be the most important step in the whole process. I suggest selecting a theme to help you get started. The possibilities are endless! For example, you could center it around a holiday, animals, or the five senses. Once you have a theme, it will be easier to select the items for people to find. Another idea is to turn your scavenger hunt list into a BINGO board.
You also need to determine how to give everyone access to the list. You can either deliver lists via snail mail, e-mail, or text to each participant beforehand, or you can present the list on a shared screen during the video call. It could make it more exciting for participants to have their own copy to work with, but it may be easier for you as the host to just share the list virtually. There are definitely advantages to both routes!
If you’re crunched for time, there are numerous virtual scavenger hunt lists to be found online. However, if you want to personalize your scavenger hunt and make it unique to your group, it’s not hard to make your own list either on a word processing software or by hand.
Launch the scavenger hunt
To begin the event, welcome everyone, thank them for coming, and tell them they’re in a for a good time! If you’ve assigned point values to each item on your list, let your participants know that whoever gets the most points will win a prize.
Also, if you’re looking for a little help with making the event go smoothly, check out the scavenger hunt app Scavify. It is ideal for virtual hunts and has a lot of neat features. With auto-scoring and a leaderboard, participants can view their standings in real time. The app also lets you share photos to really take the fun to the next level.
Give everyone a chance to share their findings
After the time limit has elapsed for the scavenger hunt and everyone has reconvened, it’s time to share what everyone has found. While it’s super fun to do the actual hunting, it’s also fun for everyone to show the group what they found. Allow participants a few minutes to share their items and explain why they are valid, if needed. It’s a good idea to mute people when it’s not their turn to share. That way everyone can hear.
The final step is to present prizes to the winners. You may want to award everyone who participated a small treat (to be delivered later), or perhaps you can give a prize to whoever finished fastest. Another idea is to assign point values to each item on the list, with more points going to more difficult items, and then give a grand prize to the person who gets the highest score.
Best Virtual Scavenger Hunt Ideas
Now that you have a good idea how to set up a virtual scavenger hunt, you’re ready to look closer at specific ideas for the items to include on your list. They’re sorted by category, and I’m confident you will find one that speaks to you!
A scavenger hunt has the potential to be an educational opportunity for kids. If your group consists of preschoolers, for example, you can test their understanding of shapes, letters, numbers, and colors as they find the listed items (which should be depicted through pictures or read aloud to them). Here are some educational ideas for preschoolers:
- Find something red
- Find something that is a circle
- Find something with the number 3 on it
- Find something that starts with the sound “a”
If your group consists of elementary school children, you could modify the list to better suit their learning level. I like the idea of instructing kids this age to find a book (any one will do) and look for these items within that book:
- A sight word
- Two rhyming words
- A number with a 4 in it (and identify what place value it’s in)
- A noun
- A verb
- An adjective
Around the House
Looking for miscellaneous items around the house is one of the most popular categories for a virtual scavenger hunt. Since many of our homes are stocked with similar items, everyone should be able to find the following:
- A stapler
- Something that tells time
- A penny
- A single sock
- A paper clip
- A remote control
There’s something comforting about being reminded that we are all surrounded by similar household items. Although the look of each item varies from household to household, this particular activity is a reminder that we’ve got a lot in common!
Search the internet to find items to share with the group! What a fun category to do with teens or even adults, right? Instruct your participants to:
- Find the best meme
- Find your favorite trending hashtag
- Find an item from your Amazon wishlist
- Find a time-wasting website
This theme is a winner too! I love spending time outdoors, and with a nature-themed virtual scavenger hunt, you get to do just that. Wherever your participants are located, they should be able to complete the following challenges in their own backyard or neighborhood:
- Find a Y-shaped stick
- Find a smooth rock
- Find a leaf smaller than your hand
- Find a flower in bloom
- Find a flying bug
- Find a crawling bug
Make bird watching a group activity! Invite everyone to look for different kinds of birds. Don’t worry; this category doesn’t need to be exclusive to bird experts. Check out these suggestions, which are suitable for everyone:
- Find a large bird
- Find two birds together
- Find a bird house
- Find a red bird
The Night Sky
Here is another unique outdoor scavenger hunt that is sure to be a hit! Provide a reference guide to your group, and instruct them to look for the following in the night sky:
- The big dipper (also known as Ursa Major)
- The little dipper (also known as Ursa Minor)
- The North Star
- Taurus (“The Bull”)
Have you ever been to a “favorite things” party? They’re a blast! Each attendee selects a favorite item and brings it to give away to whoever’s name they draw from a cup. Everyone then goes home with a top-notch product as well as a mental list of great items to check out later. For a virtual twist on this idea, invite your participants to locate some of their favorite things to recommend to the group. It’s also a great way to get to know everyone better! Here are some specific ideas:
- Find your favorite smell
- Find your favorite thing to wear
- Find something that is your favorite color
- Find something that makes you laugh
- Find something that you love to eat
- Find something that you like to look at
Kids in particular will enjoy this color theme. It may be simple, but you’ll be surprised to see the variety of items produced! Try requesting the following for this virtual scavenger hunt:
- Find something with stripes
- Find something blue
- Find something with polka dots
- Find something with a mix of three different colors
Any reading enthusiast would be totally on board with this theme! However, unless the participants are at a library or have a significant book collection at home, some may not have access to enough books to complete the list. If that’s the case, you could allow them to come up with book titles rather than present or photograph the actual books. Here are some good examples for this theme:
- Find a book that someone recommended to you
- Find a book that was made into a movie
- Find a non-fiction book
- Find your favorite book
- Find a book with more than 100 pages
- Find a book with no words in it
With this open-ended theme, participants are sure to collect a wide variety of items that are made from all sorts of textures, such as:
- Something squishy
- Something scratchy
- Something silky
- Something bumpy
- Something furry
A selfie scavenger hunt has the potential to be a good time for all. Teens and tweens in particular get a kick out of it! Give your group one hour to take as many selfies as they can from the provided list. It could include things like:
- Selfie in front of a window
- Selfie with a book
- Selfie with something green
- Selfie with a favorite snack
- Selfie with a pet
If you’re not into selfies, you may like this idea better. Give everyone a list of items to photograph within a certain amount of time. For instance, they could look for the following objects around their neighborhood or community and snap a photo:
- A stop sign
- A fire hydrant
- A crosswalk
- A yard sale sign
- An ATM
- A Redbox machine
We all know how good it feels to help out other people, so a service-themed scavenger hunt is sure to leave everyone involved feeling great! Instead of finding items, participants will need to do certain kind deeds for this hunt. They could, for instance:
- Mow a neighbor’s lawn
- Write a kind note
- Bake cookies for a friend
- Pay for the person behind them in a drive-thru
- Leave lucky pennies on the sidewalk
Wrapping it Up
Hopefully you’ve found a fitting theme for your virtual scavenger hunt or at least feel inspired to create your own. If you’re feeling indecisive and can’t pick just one, you could even combine several of these categories together. Whatever you end up doing, this curated list will make the planning process easier.
Though the pandemic has been difficult in so many ways for all of us, one of the up sides is that we have learned how to better take advantage of technology to connect with people. I, for one, never would have imagined how much fun I’d have with a virtual scavenger hunt if my son hadn’t been learning remotely from home
What is a virtual scavenger hunt?
A virtual scavenger hunt is a timed event in which you find items on a list, take a photo of those items, and share the photos with other participants.
How old should someone be to do a virtual scavenger hunt?
People of any age can be part of a virtual scavenger hunt. Even children who can’t read can do it with an adult’s help. It can be a family activity, or kids can have their own hunt. Adults can also enjoy having a grown-up hunt without kids.
Can multiple people participate in a virtual scavenger hunt?
Yes! It’s more fun when you have multiple people competing to find the best items to share with friends.