If you’ve ever found yourself wondering how to keep your child more engaged during family outings, like hikes or museums, you’re not alone. Over the years I’ve tried a few different strategies for keeping my children actively focused (and hopefully learning!) during our adventures. The one that’s worked best: scavenger hunts!
Such a seemingly simple activity, but scavenger hunts are universal, in that you can complete one while hiking a trail or in an art gallery! For my family, a scavenger hunt is an easy way to keep my children motivated, making observations, and asking questions.
For those who don’t necessarily love the outdoors, geocaching is an incentive to keep going. If your family loves being outdoors, then geocaching will enhance your experience.
Simply download the free Geocaching app and search for “caches” hidden near you. You’ll follow directions which will navigate you to a hidden treasure of some kind. Typically caches are containers hidden with small toys. There’s usually a small pad of paper for you to sign once you’ve found it.
Some of our favorite spots for geocaching: Larus Park, Horner Park, Mid-Lothian Mines Park, and Pocahontas State Park.
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden offers several free, printable Kid Quest scavenger hunts that could be completed in your backyard, or at the garden itself.
These nature-themed activities teach children about pollinators, water, and more. I particularly appreciate how informative the Kid Quest activities are. From biodiversity to a caterpillar’s colors, there is so much to learn!
State Parks Scavenger Hunts
These free resources are available for every Virginia State Park. I suggest printing copies prior to your visit. While I don’t use scavenger hunts on every hike or outdoor adventure with children, they can be very handy when kids are losing motivation.
The Sensory Scavenger Hunt is excellent for toddlers, as it will encourage them to slow down and notice birds chirping, the feel of tree bark, and the smell of an evergreen tree.
Gallery Guide & Hunts
I am so thankful VMFA has scavenger hunts specifically for families to make the most of their visits. Not only do these useful resources guide children through the galleries; they also ask questions to pique curiosity and start discussions.
I recommend printing the age-appropriate scavenger hunt for your child prior to your visit. As an incentive, I treat my children to a pastry at VMFA’s Best Cafe after completing their scavenger hunt.
Next time you venture out with kids in tow, consider bringing along a scavenger hunt to help them stay engaged and learning.