How to Write Clues for a Scavenger Hunt

By Ronna Pennington
Scavenger hunts, a chance, their sleuthing skills
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People of all ages enjoy scavenger hunts. Scavenger hunts are often used as ice breakers at conventions, team-building exercises, party games and classroom activities. Planning a scavenger hunt is not difficult, but it does require forethought. When planning a scavenger hunt, keep the ages of the participants in mind and create clues they can decipher. If you are planning a scavenger hunt for a theme party, keep the theme in the hunt as well.

Trivia Clues

Suit trivia clues to the age group that is participating in the scavenger hunt. Clues may be simple fill-in-the-blank phrases, such as, "The mouse ran up the _." Try writing clues with original rhyming verse. A clue leading to a couch could be, for example, "A potato may be here -- not the kind you fry. Most likely you'll see a remote nearby." You may also write trivia clues in question form.

Picture Clues

Scavenger hunters, who, this picture clue, this specific clock
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Picture clues require no creative writing. Simply take a picture of where you hide the clue and give the picture to participants. To make the hunt more challenging, focus on only one element of the clue's location. If you hide a clue behind a sofa pillow, for example, take a picture of an isolated motif in the pillow. You can also cut the full picture into puzzle pieces. The hunters must assemble the puzzle to find the clue.

Coded Clues

Coded clues may be written with numbers and letters or involve clip art or drawings. To use numbers and letters, develop a code in which each letter equals a number. Therefore, you will write your clues in numeric code; hunters must decipher it using a code key you provide. Clip art or drawing codes are written as an equation, also called a rebus puzzle. For instance, a drawing of a "tree" plus a "house" equals a "tree house."

Planning Tips

When planning your scavenger hunt, determine where you plan to hide the prize and work clues backward from that point. How long you want the hunt to last will determine how many clues you leave. Simple picture clues work best for very young children, while adults appreciate more challenging clues. Always keep in mind the situation for which you are planning the scavenger hunt. Also, keep clues simple and very focused to leave little room for misinterpretation.

About the Author

Ronna Pennington, an experienced newspaper writer and editor, began writing full-time in 1989. Her professional crafting experience includes machine embroidery and applique. When she's not repainting her den or making new holiday decorations, Ronna researches and writes community histories. She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and an Master of liberal arts in history.