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Mindful Scavenger Hunt

This article is part of our weekly series Executive Function Tips for Families.

Are you on the hunt for a fun way to practice working memory? Search no further! 


This game enhances mindful concentration, which helps your child learn to hold rules in their memory and exercise flexible thinking.

Executive Function Skills Practiced:

  • Planning: Think ahead! Players have to think of something that meets each criterion, such as color, shape, or beginning letter.
  • Working Memory: Your child will have to keep the rules of the game in mind.

Duration: 10 – 15 Minutes

Environment: Enough table or floor space to display images

Materials List:

  • Assorted items around your home
  • Visual representation of a rainbow, numbers, or the alphabet
  • Pen or pencil
  • Clipboard

Ready To Play? Game Levels and Step-by-Step Instructions:

  • Choose the right level of play based on your child’s age.


Game Level 1– Rainbow Scavenger Hunt (2-3 years):

  1. Find a quiet space to introduce the game. Show an image of a rainbow.

  2. Say: “Today, we’re going on a scavenger hunt! We’ll find a rainbow hiding in our home!”

  3. Name each color, pointing to it. “Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and pink!”

  4. Then, say: “First, find something RED. Put it on the table.”

  5. Repeat for all colors. Bonus round: Arrange items in rainbow order!


Game Level 2– Shape Scavenger Hunt (3-4 years):

  1. Look for items of different shapes. For example, a beverage coaster could be used as a circle or a sticky note could be used as a square. You could also cut out shapes with paper as an alternative. 

  2. Tell your child: “Today, we’ll find different shapes hiding in our home! Square, circle, triangle, star, rectangle.”

  3. Then, say: “First, find something shaped like a SQUARE. Put it on the table.”

  4. Repeat for each shape.


Game Level 3– Alphabet Scavenger Hunt (4-5 years):

  1. Have your child find items starting with different letters of the alphabet.

  2. Say: “Today, we’ll find the alphabet hiding! What starts with the letter ‘A’? Apple! Alligator!”

  3. Tell them: “Find something starting with the letter ‘A.’”

  4. Start with familiar letters if needed.

  5. Repeat for each letter. Consider creating a schedule where you use just a few letters each day over an extended period or going through the entire alphabet in one sitting may be too much for your child. 

Game Level 4– Can You Solve the Mystery? (5+ years):

  1. Prepare clues that will help your child find a toy hidden in your home.

  2. Say: “Help me solve a mystery! Your teddy bear is hiding. Here’s a clue: near something white and cold where you find something to eat!”

  3. Give follow-up clues as needed. Example: “What do we use to keep our food cold? Where is it in our house?”

  4. Adjust language for your home. Repeat as desired.


Talk & Reflect:

Discuss challenges and strategies with your child. Ask questions like:

  • “Was it easy to remember what you were looking for?”
  • “What things did you do to help you solve the clues?”

Additional Ideas & Resources:

  • Try at different times and with different visuals.
  • Make Level 4 more challenging with complex clues.
  • Explore free printable scavenger hunts online to keep the game exciting!

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