Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite activities to do with kiddos in OT sessions! There are so many skills that can be incorporated into a scavenger hunt: visual skills, executive functioning, ideation, motor planning, sensory exploration, and even more! Now that the weather is getting nicer, taking your child outside to do a spring scavenger hunt is a great way to practice some of these skills! Below are some ideas to get you started in creating your own scavenger hunt as well as a sample scavenger hunt checklist that you can use!
Visual skills: choose items at varying levels and at varying visibility. For example, don’t have your child look for all the scavenger hunt items at ground level – add in items that are above their heads, on the walls, hidden among flowerbeds, or obscured by other objects. Searching for items in a wide variety of locations allows your child to practice their visual scanning skills and even offers an opportunity to practice preposition words (“the rock is under the bush; the flower is behind the tree”).
Executive functioning: scavenger hunts are great ways to practice things like sequencing and organization. Your child can help you create the scavenger hunt checklist which challenges their ideation and organization abilities. Help them identify items that are feasible to find in your environment (but not too easy to find!) Additionally, going through the routine of reading the next item on the checklist, finding it, and crossing it off the list helps with sequencing skills as well as organization.
Sensory exploration: include items on your checklist that tap into your child’s other senses (besides vision). For example, have your child look for items that feel, sound, or smell a certain way! Including these items can be a safe and fun way for a child to be in control of exploring their sensory environment and investigate new textures, sounds, and smells. It also helps children learn to discriminate between qualities like soft and rough, dry and wet, hot and cold, etc.
Motor planning/motor skills: a fun twist that can be added to any scavenger hunt is a movement component. Including movement challenges your child’s gross and fine motor skills, motor planning skills, and attention. Include things like “jump over a puddle” or “high five a tree.” Your child will enjoy moving their bodies and being silly while interacting with their environment!