Birthday Scavenger Hunt Ideas For Toddlers to Tweens

Wave goodbye to party game stress and hello to fun with our no-fuss guide to creating a birthday scavenger hunt your kids will adore!

Planning a child's party can be a balancing act, especially when juggling all the demands of everyday life as a parent. We've put together an easy guide to help you set up a scavenger hunt that's not only age-appropriate and exciting for the kids but also straightforward and stress-free for you.

From creative clues to themed pictures, we've put together these ideas to help you make a party game for kids of all ages packed with adventure, and fun!

pirate scavenger hunt party game clues being found by a young girl at a pirate themed birthday party

A well-planned scavenger hunt is an easy way to keep the kids engaged and entertained when hosting your next kids birthday party.

But how do you setup it up ? How do you make it age appropriate?  Or plan a game that caters to the excitement levels and understanding of a wider range of ages from toddlers to tweens??

We’re going to show you how to setup a birthday scavenger hunt and how to mix the right amount of fun and challenge to keep all the kids, from the tiny tots to the almost-teens, engaged and having a blast.

Planning your scavenger hunt

Start by choosing a theme that resonates with your child’s interests or matches the party theme, like pirates, space exploration, or a woodland fairy adventure etc.

Consider your space – will it be indoors, outdoors, or a bit of both?

Sketch out a rough list of where the clues will lead to keep the hunt exciting yet manageable.

For each location, think of a clue or task that fits the age group of the participants. Younger kids might need straightforward clues leading to visible spots, while older ones can handle more complex puzzles or riddles.

Lets look at a few different styles of scavenger hunts you can setup based on the ages of the children you will have at the party.

fairy scavenger hunt printable birthday game

Types of Scavenger Hunt


For this type of scavenger hunt you provide a list of items to find around the house or yard,  with a checklist to tick off each item as it is found. For younger children you can use pictures or colours instead of words for each object on the list to find.

This is the easiest style of scavenger hunt to setup as you don’t need to hide anything or create any clues. Simply provide the  checklist and ensure each item is in the search area (eg backyard/ house/ park). As a party game you could have a reward/treat for each completed checklist.

Picture Clues - Approx age 2 – 5 years

 This style of scavenger hunt uses picture clues matched to your party theme. For example, if you have a space themed party use picture of rockets, planets and all things space. Hide each picture card around the search area for the kids to find. You can include a checklist so they know what pictures to search for and they can check each one off as it is found.

This style of scavenger hunt is also easy to setup as there is no direction or order to find the pictures. Just hide each picture card where they can easily be found; in the house or yard. As a party game you could attach a treat to each card, or have a prize for when they are all found.

This style is ideal for toddlers and preschoolers.

Basic Clues - Approx age 5 – 8 years

Similar to the picture clue scavenger hunt but the cards have straightforward hints pointing to the next location. Add a simple direction or clue on the back of the picture so they know where to search next.  Some example clues could be “I’m Cold” (for the fridge), or “ I’m hungry” for the pantry.

The picture cards can be hidden in slightly harder locations, and do need to be hidden in certain places so they are found one after the other. In the example above, you could give the kids the first clue (for the fridge), then when they get to the fridge they find the next clue (for the pantry), when they get to the pantry they find the next clue etc.

As a party game you could have the final clue attached to a bag of treats/rewards.

This style requires basic reading comprehension and is ideal for early readers

Riddle Clues – Approx age 8 – 10 years

This style of scavenger hunt has more complex clues/riddles that require critical thinking to solve. A riddle like, "I have a spine but no bones, you can open me up and turn my pages home," points towards finding a book. Similarly to the basic clue scavenger hunt the clues do need to be hidden in certain places so they are found one after the other.

As a party game you could have the final clue attached to a bag of treats/rewards.

Riddle clues, require some thought to decipher and the children need to be able to read (or have someone help them). This style is suited to primary school aged children.

Puzzle Clues – Approx age 10 – 12 years

Similar to the riddle scavenger hunt, but use puzzles such as; word finds, crosswords, or jigsaws, that lead to the next clue or location. For example, a crossword puzzle where the highlighted letters spell out the next location.

Older children love puzzle clues – they need to solve a problem to reveal the next clue.

Coded Clues – Approx age 12+

Suitable for pre-teens and teenagers, these clues involve decoding messages, using ciphers or secret languages. An example could be using Morse code to spell out the next location or a simple substitution cipher to decode a message. These clues add an element of mystery and sophistication, appealing to older kids’ desire for more complex and secretive clues.

Code clues offer an intriguing challenge for pre-teens to use their decryption skills to find the next clue.

space themed party scavenger hunt game surrounded by 3 kids looking at the pictures to find

If you have a wide range of age ranges to cater for, you could include a mix of clue styles, or setup 2 hunts in slightly separate locations (eg. outdoors for littlies, and indoors for big kids) Remember, the goal is to keep all the kids engaged and moving, so balance the difficulty and make sure no one is left out or too challenged.

We hope these scavenger hunt ideas have inspired you to create a fun party game for your kids that's both entertaining for the kids and manageable to plan.

Ready to take the fun to the next level? Check out our collection of ready-to-use scavenger hunt printables! Designed to save you time and enhance the party experience, these printables offer a range of themes with picture clues for young children.

Click here to explore our selection and download the perfect scavenger hunt for your child’s next birthday adventure.

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