5 New Ways to use a Scavenger Hunt in special ed


I love finding more than one way to use the same activity. Not only does it cut down on the amount of activities I need to create, but it also allows students to use the same skills across different settings, with different people, using different stimuli. Generalization. Yep, it is important and can take some time and strategy to implement. Here are 5 ways to use a scavenger hunt to not only build up that generalization of skills, but save you some precious time as well.

Plus, I have a free scavenger hunt you can download for Spring to try it out.

1. Going Outside

This is probably how most of us use scavenger hunts. We give the kids a list of things to find, and off we go. Of course with some of our kiddos, we need to use pictures rather than words. And for some, we may need to even use real photos. I also like to think about HOW kids will mark their list once they find an item. I try to mix it up and find cool or fun ways to mark their boards. You can try:

  • stickers
  • post-it notes
  • dot markers
  • hole punch

You also need to decide if each student will carry their own list, or will you just take along a class list. Depending on the makeup of my class, I have done it both ways.

2. Watching a Movie

If it is too cold or wet, you can always do a scavenger hunt with a movie. I have found this sometimes increases engagement, as the students are really watching for things on their list. On the other hand, you can have students who become so involved with the movie, they totally forget about the scavenger hunt. I like to use movie related markers to keep them focused on the list as much as possible. You can try:

  • small candies, like skittles or gummy bears
  • popcorn
  • movie tickets (you can a roll really cheaply at the dollar store)

Special note: If you happen to watch a movie following one of my novel units, you can actually use the vocabulary board as your scavenger hunt list. ?

3. Reading a book

Just like watching a movie, you can create a scavenger hunt for a read aloud you are planning to do. It will not only increase engagement by provided a clear purpose to listening to the story, but will also reinforce and generalize vocabulary you may be working on from that book. For markers, I like to use:

  • small, novelty erasers
  • post-it notes
  • dot markers

Special note: If you happen using one of my literacy units, you can actually use the vocabulary board as your scavenger hunt list. ?

4. Exploring the School

Just doing a scavenger hunt around the school or even just in the classroom is a great back to school activity. You can work on all types of behaviors and expectations in all different areas of the school. Again, because there is a clear purpose to the exploration, students are more likely to stay engaged and follow the rules.

Special Note: You can check out my blog post on Structured Walks
for a scavenger hunt that is really structured and pre-planned (click HERE). This works really well for students who are new to you or at the beginning of school. The post has a free guide as well as a free walk you can download.

5. Going on a field trip

If you are planning a field trip, why not also included a scavenger hunt? Again, giving an additional layer of purpose to the trip will increase student engagement. Reviewing the list before hand will also front-load your students with information to make the trip more meaningful to them.

Special Note: Check out my blog post on Having a Successful Field Trip (click HERE) for even more tips on making the most of your outings.

There are so many ways to use scavenger hunts in your lesson plans. I know they take some work to put together, but once you have one, you can use it year after year. You can even use the same scavenger hunt multiple times in multiple settings. Finally, just think about all the IEP goals you can likely target while doing this activity. I found them to be one of my most favorite things to do with my students.

Here is a scavenger hunt for Spring you can download and try. Click button below image.

Please note that it can take up to 24 hours for your email to be processed and your scavenger hunt sent to you. Can’t wait? Email me at, and I will send it right over it at all possible.





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