Pretend play is such an important part of a child’s growth and development. Not to mention that is just so much fun! I absolutely love engaging in pretend play with my little one. To be honest, I am not sure who loves it more, me or him! In this indoor scavenger hunt activity, you will have so much fun being detectives.
The materials list you need is super short. There is even a free printable of already-made clues to keep this activity simple on preparation and huge on fun.
- Free printable of clues
- Missing item
- Model magic, flour, icing sugar or baby powder
- Scotch tape
- Black paper
- Detective items (optional): notepad, toy walkie talkies, flashlight, and magnifying glass
Choose a Missing Item
In our indoor scavenger hunt, I set the activity up with some back-story to make it a little more interesting. I chose to set up the activity for Sunday afternoon during my prep for a picnic we were going on. I made a quite dramatic reveal of our missing item and must admit that it definitely helped encourage and excite my little one. We were going to go on a hunt for my son’s missing lunch box! Since this was something I knew always had a place and was needed, I felt that this item was a good fit for us. Feel free to use your imagination and creativity to select the perfect missing item for your little one.
Before actually starting our pretend play detective game, there was just a little set up needed. I cut out the printable clues and followed the instructions to put them in the right spots around the house. All clue spots were pretty general so no need to stress. All the work is done for you!
I also really wanted to set up a fingerprinting station, so I made sure to add this to one of our clues. There are many ways that this can be done. We tried using oven bake clay. We had bought some and figured this would be a good time to introduce it to my son. If you don’t have this at home, some other methods you can try are flour, icing sugar, or baby powder.
THE HUNT BEGINS
Once clues are in place, you are ready to begin this indoor scavenger hunt! As mentioned, I made a very big deal about the missing item. My little one, who is also super helpful, came to see what the commotion was and offered to help. I hope that lasts forever!
We went to the cupboard where the lunch box is usually kept and there was clue number one, along with some important detective items to help engage my son in this great pretend play activity. I had a notebook and pen, a flashlight, a toy walkie talkie, and of course, a magnifying glass. This was an absolute favorite and he enjoyed checking everything out through the lens of the magnifying glass.
I read the first clue and allowed him a chance to solve it. Once he did, we headed off in search of the next clue. He loved the rhyming clues and really took great pride in solving each one. Since the clues were pretty scattered all around the house, I was pretty relieved when we got to sit and learn about our fingerprints for a while. Keeping up with an excited five year old can definitely be tiring!
We had several members of the family at this activity to help us see the different fingerprints and learn to compare them. While we pressed our fingers into the oven bake clay, we also decided to try the flour and some tape to really be able to study the differences. All you need is a small amount to just dust onto your finger. Then, using a piece of tape, press your finger onto the print and then lift. Voila, you have your fingerprint! Place each member’s piece of tape side by side and ask your little one what they notice. This was probably the most fun because we involved the whole family. It was also so interesting seeing all of our different prints!
After promising my little one that we would return to the fingerprinting as soon as we solved the mystery, we were off to continue our indoor scavenger hunt and solve the case. I set up 10 clues. When we got to the end, we decided to have fun with it and find the guilty culprit and the missing item! My son got a good giggle and really enjoyed capturing the guilty party. He continued running around with the magnifying glass looking for clues and searching for prints long after the indoor scavenger hunt was done. He was having such a great time.
I definitely know which detective to call when another item goes missing in our house. Hope you have a great detective in yours too!
Joanna is a full-time teacher and part-time mompreneur with a personalized and custom gift shop. She has a passion for writing and loves creating wonderful memories for her 3 beautiful children. As a huge fan of Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus, Joanna lives by her biggest lesson: “Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!” You can find her on Facebook.
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