How to Have a Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt

What do your kids know about the first Thanksgiving?

Would you like to make the story of this incredible event more vivid for your children?

Send your family on a journey of discovery, starting with the sailing of the Mayflower and ending with the Thanksgiving meal itself.

In this article, you’ll find all you need to plan a quick and easy Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt that’s both fun and educational.

How to plan a quick and easy Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt that's both fun and educational.

Why a Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt?

When you ask most kids to tell you about the first Thanksgiving, they’ll rattle off a thing or two about the Pilgrims, turkeys and pumpkin pie. Not a bad start, but there’s so much more to the story!

Get your children excited to learn more about the first Thanksgiving. Send them on a scavenger hunt to track down fun Thanksgiving facts and tidbits!

They’ll learn more about the people who risked their lives to come to a new country. They’ll find out about the true meaning of helping your neighbors and they’ll develop a deeper thankfulness when they sit down to their own Thanksgiving meal.

printed clues

Print the Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt clues and send the kids searching at your holiday gathering.

To start your Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt, your children will follow a string of clues hidden inside your home.

finding bathroom sink clue

The Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt will take kids all over the house searching for clues.

At the end of the scavenger hunt, you can present a mini-Thanksgiving meal (a snack) and share more interesting facts about the first Thanksgiving.

To learn more, refer to the list of Thanksgiving books and websites in this article to keep you moving on your journey of Thanksgiving discovery.

You Will Need

  • Printer
  • Printer paper
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Internet access
  • Snack food (optional)

Preparation Time

Depending on your printer speed (and we all know how that can vary!), you’ll need anywhere from 5-20 minutes to print the story cards, cut them out and hide them.

Activity Time

15-30 minutes

Location

Inside your home

#1: Print and Cut Out the Scavenger Hunt Clues

These are for your eyes only. Each clue is labeled with a number.

finding clue 8

Numbered clues will lead your kids all over the house, learning about Thanksgiving each step of the way.

The first one, the Get Started clue, will lead to clue #1. That clue will lead to clue #2, which will lead to #3 and so on.

cutting out the clues

Just print out the clues and hold your own Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt.

First, print the clues (PDF), cut them out and either roll them into small scrolls, or fold them.

close up cutting clues

Cut each clue on the dotted lines.

You can also keep them flat and tape them to the hiding places that are listed in step #3.

#2: Announce the Hunt!

Get kids excited about the impending scavenger hunt. Gather your gang together and say something like this:

“Okay, guys. We’re going to have a Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt! But before we start, tell me two things you know about the first Thanksgiving.”

clue

Each clue has Thanksgiving facts to teach your kids about the first Thanksgiving.

After your crew has answered, tell them you’re going to hide the Scavenger Hunt clues.

#3: Hide the Clues

Gather the kids in a place where they won’t be able to watch you hide the clues. Better yet, have one of the other relatives take them on a walk outside where they won’t be able to peek.

Hide your clues in the locations listed below.

Hiding Place Locations:

Clue 1: Your kitchen sink

hiding sink clue

Hide the first clue at the kitchen sink.

Clue 2: Your front door
Clue 3: Your bathroom sink
Clue 4: At a table large enough for your children to crawl under

finding clue 4

Found! Clue number 4.

Clue 5: At or in your refrigerator
Clue 6: At a window
Clue 7: At a mirror

clue at mirror

Hide clue #7 at a mirror.

Clue 8: In a clothes closet
Clue 9: Under the pillow of a bed or on the bed
Clue 10: At the table or counter where you eat your meals

#4: The Hunt Begins!

Call your children out of hiding and officially kick off the hunt.

Hand one of them the Get Started clue and tell the gang, “Okay, we’re going to start the hunt.”

reading clue

Read the Get Started clue aloud to the group and then start the search for more clues.

Ask them to read the first clue and then take turns finding and reading the clues as they go.

If your children can’t read yet, you can help.

finding the kitchen sink clue

Finding the kitchen sink clue.

The Get Started clue will lead them to clue #1, at the kitchen sink.

If your children seem to be struggling to figure out where the next clue is hidden, help them along by asking them leading questions.

Once they find the clue, have them read it aloud so the whole group can hear.

reading clue aloud

Ask kids to read clues aloud to the whole group.

#5: The Hunt Ends

When your children reach and read the final clue, it’s time to celebrate.

reaching high for clue

Reaching high to find another clue!

Enjoy a Thanksgiving snack together, review the clues they found and talk about what they learned.

the hunt is over

The hunt is over!

Use our More to Gobble Up Section to learn more about the first Thanksgiving, and keep the conversation going!

#6: More to Gobble Up!

If your children want to hunt down more Thanksgiving facts and stories, the books and websites listed below are a great place to start.

Some Final Thoughts

The first Thanksgiving is a gripping story of how determination in following your beliefs can lead you to do extraordinary things.

One way to help our children to grasp the overall importance of Thanksgiving is to intrigue them with interesting facts about the event and the people.

Just say the words “scavenger hunt” and you’ll be well on your way to having them learn about the first Thanksgiving.

What do you think? How do you teach your children about historical events like Thanksgiving? Let us know! We’re always looking for new ways to get our kids interested in history. Leave a comment or photo in the box below.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

About the Author, Susan Merrill

Susan Merrill is a mom of five, author of The Passionate Mom, and the director of iMOM.com. She loves her kids, dogs, and husband, but not necessarily in that order! ​ Other posts by »


  • Pingback: Thanksgiving Scavenger HuntThanksgiving Scavenger Hunt | Susan Merrill Blog()

  • http://susanme.com/ Susan Merrill

    I hope you enjoy the Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt! It’s a great way to keep the kids busy with something fun on a cool pre-Thanksgiving day.

  • Jay

    Good idea!

  • Libby

    Love this idea! What fun for the kids.

  • Jon

    Definitely doing this!

  • Dad

    Hooray for Thanksgiving, the overlooked middle child between Halloween and Christmas! We need a holiday to remind us to be thankful, and this activity helps keep that tradition alive.

  • Candice

    This is a great idea. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://susanme.com/ Susan Merrill

    Yes, it’s a nice (and fun!) way to get the children a little more involved with Thanksgiving!

  • http://susanme.com/ Susan Merrill

    Yes! I agree. Long live Thanksgiving! :-)

  • http://susanme.com/ Susan Merrill

    Let me know how it turns out.

  • http://susanme.com/ Susan Merrill

    Glad you like it. :-)

  • Dana Hall McCain

    This will be perfect for our family gathering with LOTS of little cousins! Thanks for the great idea!

  • Pingback: How to Have a Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt | CookingPlanet()

  • http://susanme.com/ Susan Merrill

    You’re welcome, Dana! I hope all of the cousins have fun with it!

  • http://www.mykidsadventures.com/ Jennifer Ballard

    Thanks, Susan! I appreciate the emphasis on teaching kids the history behind the holiday. It’s so much more meaningful than pumpkin pie and football and your scavenger hunt is a really fun way to convey that. I’ll be taking a printout along for my boys to do with their cousins.

  • http://susanme.com/ Susan Merrill

    You’re very welcome, Jennifer. I’m thinking about making the Scavenger Hunt an activity for both young and old at our Thanksgiving. Let’s see how much the grown-ups know about Thanksgiving… :-)

  • Kathleen

    I’m totally doing this with the grandkids on Thanksgiving. Thanks for the plan.

  • http://susanme.com/ Susan Merrill

    So glad you like it, Kathleen. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  • Kelly

    Ok, This is AWESOME!!! And I soooo want to do this with my kids and their 9 cousins tomorrow… But I can’t figure out how to print it :( Any assistance would be much appreciated!! Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Pingback: Family Thanksgiving Celebrations (in Nebraska) | Odyssey Through Nebraska()

  • http://www.mykidsadventures.com/ Jennifer Ballard

    Hi Kelly,
    There’s a link in #1, between the two pictures of the lady cutting out the clues with scissors. That link will open up the PDF of the scavenger hunt clues.
    Hope all the kids have fun with it!

Check out the Parenting Adventures podcast with Michael Stelzner
How to Have an Outdoor Photo Scavenger Hunt With Your Kids
How to Create Glow-In-The-Dark Bowling In Your Home
How to Create a Backyard Treasure Hunt, Minecraft Style
How to Make Slime: 5 Easy Recipes
How to Entertain Your Kids for Hours With Adventure Tubs