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Library Scavenger Hunt Ideas

I have done a few of these during the Summer Reading Program and the kids love it.  The year that the theme was bugs I got pictures of bugs off the internet and put them all over the library and then gave the kids a checklist of what ones to find (with pictures too).  They were all in plain sight, but the kids still had to search for them.  I put the praying mantis in the religious section of the nonfiction -the kids didn't get it :( .  Anyway, they all really enjoyed it, and it didn't take too much prep and I liked that it got the kids to go all through the library.

We took close-up photos of interesting details around the library, printed them small on card stock, cut them into cards and numbered them.  We made a set for two teams.  The teams were given a check list to write where they found each item and whichever team came back to the meeting room where we started won.  Sometimes I give prizes and sometimes not.  For sure, I give something to everyone, win or lose.
I'm attaching the check list and a few of the photo, just for ideas.

I have done a couple things that have worked well. We have kids in K-6, and usually about 30-40 at a time. We broke into small groups for each of these, making sure that some older ones were in with little ones to help read, etc.

First one we did was the Dewey's Amazing Race. It is in one of the Summer Reading manuals, I believe year before last. I modified a bit, but each "station" is an activity relating to Dewey Decimal System. I gave them each a card so they could check off each station they completed. You could give a prize upon completion. One of the stations was an online quiz about their reading habits, which is still on the home page of our website at if you scroll all the way down the page.

The other was a library scavenger hunt that I found online. But basically, I made small cards in three groups. One group said "Find a book about ____" and then I filled in a subject like worms or apples, etc. so that they'd look it up in the catalog and then go find it.  I did do a small presentation about how to use the online catalog with everyone to start out. Another category was "Find a book by ____________" and you'd fill in the author. The last one was "Find the book called _____________" where I filled in specific titles. I make about 25 cards in each category, I think. I had each small group pick a name for themselves, I wrote those down, and then the group drew one card, went and found the book, brought it back to me to check, then drew another card. They had a time limit and found as many books as possible, one at a time. I just kept track of how many each team got and then gave prizes at the end. This was just an excellent way for them to learn how to find books in the library. The younger ones DID need a lot of help, but I still think they learned something and thought it was fun. It was a lot of work to make the cards up and make sure all the books were in that were on the cards, but doing the actual program was lots of fun. I did have a few volunteers to help keep kids on track.

Overall for programs with lots of kids, I have found that having several "stations" for small groups to travel to works really great. We've done this for craft days, game days, and our Halloween party day.

I do a scavenger hunt for older kids during summer library that they love!  I just make up clues that go along with the theme for that year and hide them.  Each clue sends to the next clue and so on till they get to the very last clue, which usually leads them back to my desk.  But they go ALL OVER the library, which they love, and then I hand out prizes at the end of it.  They look forward to it every year, and I like doing it, although it is a lot of work so getting a start on it early is always a good idea.

I usually put the clues on something that represents the theme for that year, like animal bookmarks for Paws, Claws, Scales & Tales or butterflies for Catch the Reading Bug, and so on.  And I usually make them rhyme cuz I like to torcher myself like that. lol  So here's a few examples from a hunt I did a couple years ago:

I just hand them the beginning clue and they go from there, this is...

Clue #1
If the Library is closed and has locked all the locks,  Things must be placed in the great big black box. (so the kids would run to our drop box where the next clue would be, usually I split them into 4 teams, each teams clues are on a bookmark with a different animal on it or butterflies of different colors, and so on & those are the ones they HAVE to grab)

Clue #2
This is so easy, to this place you flew, But can you see yourself finding the next clue?
(we have a big mirror in the corner, so the kids ran there and the next clue was behind it)

Clue #3
The clues you need to hurry and find, I wouldn't want to be the 1st one "Left Behind".
(the clue was in the 1st book of the "Left Behind" series)

Clue #4
If you're getting confused and don't know where to roam, The best thing to do is just "Fly Away Home". (the clue was in the case of the movie "Fly Away Home")  Ok I'll give you one more, cuz there are 16 clues all together and that's to many to list! lol

Clue #5
Books are fun & great to read when you're board, Like the one of the famous wizard who finally meets the Dark Lord. (so the next clue would be in the Harry Potter book # 4 I think it is, when Harry meets Voldermort for the fist time)

So!  There are some examples of the clues I've made for scavenger hunts before.  I just try to make sure the kids have to go to ALL sections of the library to find the next clue. If you would like a whole list of all the clues I can give it to you, that's no problem, just let me know if I can help some more!

­­­­We do a scavenger hunt regularly during the summer etc. and the kids absolutely love it and beg for more, even some of the older kids! It's really designed for the youngest kids, but since older siblings help they think it's fun too. We design a sheet with 6-8 pictures of things (elves, snowmen, christmas trees whatever is appropriate for the season) then put up the same pictures that the kids have in various places  to find and check off their sheet. Very simple. They get a small prize (i.e. a bookmark or piece of candy) when they finish. They can only do it once a day. We re hide the pictures fairly often, or change the hunt depending on the season. We don't have one going right now and we have kids asking when we'll do another one.

I do two different kinds of scavenger hunts. One is kind of an "I Spy"
situation--I have a list of items hidden all over the library, like a
glow-in-the-dark star, a blue pom-pom, a toy dinosaur, etc. Sometimes they
collect them and bring them to me, and sometimes they have a sheet where
they write down each location.
Another hunt I do very occasionally is a hunt where they have to follow
clues in books, research, solving riddles, using the internet or catalog
computer, etc. They like that one the most, but it does take a while to come
up with the clues!

A magazine scavenger hunt is fun and the kids love it.  We save our old, weeded mags, and have a list of words, pictures, etc. for the children to find in the mags.  They cut them out and glue onto typing paper.  This can be done individually or as teams.
When we do Library hunts, we have teams looking usually for different items already in the Library or that we have "planted".  I can fax you two of the lists we used for a tween club lock-in if you would like?

We've done a couple of different versions. We did a "geocache" one where we supplied both photo/clues and coordinates for the hunt and we used the park trail out back to hide tubs of prizes. Lids were secured with zip ties to the bin and the bin secured with zip ties to whatever was handy. We got wise after some of our prizes looked a little more "dipped" than others. The last
couple of times, we used the same bins, provided clues, but put stampers in them. The stampers, in turn, were zip tied to the tubs. They got a small sheet of paper to stamp each clue (each one had either a different color and they used their fingerprint or we had those cheap Oriental Trading stampers in a theme - on box had bug stampers, another had farm animals, etc.). This way we know they went to each individual bin, and we can give bigger prizes at the end. We've done the stamper version both inside and out.

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Annette Wetteland last modified May 23, 2013 10:30 AM