Okay this blog is going to seem like it’s coming from left field, and you’re right, it is. True to our GoDirect Trade start-up style, we are unique and we’re definitely not what you would see from the normal corporate mold. And that is why instead of blogging about aerospace, Blockchain, trading, or marketplaces, I’m blogging about . . . wait for it . . . Easter basket scavenger hunts.
If you’re like me, and millions across the globe, you’ve been stuck at home and finding yourself in a unique #SocialDistancing sid. This topic might be non-work related but if it spreads any cheer or laughter or joy, then it is work related because everyone needs that right now. Everyone.
Our kids love scavenger hunts and once a year, at Easter, we try to put together challenging riddles and puzzles that make them think they’re the next Sherlock Holmes. If you’re interested in creating a unique scavenger hunt then this is the post for you. You certainly don’t have to do ALL of the riddle / puzzle types outlined but this might help spur some creative ideas as you build your own.
First, like every good hunt, there has to be an end game. And that end game better be good.
- We started off the kids' scavenger hunt with a note from the Easter Bunny (EB) that said Chick-a-dee tried to jack their baskets (the nerve) so EB had to hide them in secret locations.
- Each hunter received a large plastic bucket where they could hold their clues and any other props along the way (ex. magic ink pen, highlighter, decoder, pipe, etc.)
- Each hunter also received their “first clue” to kick off the hunt.
The hunters were presented with a "base" map (see below) of an aerial view of our property. The problem, though, is that the map is missing the “X” which marks the spot that the kids need to locate their Easter baskets. You’ll notice that in each corner there’s a little symbol present (circled in red below). These symbols will help the hunters line up their puzzle piece when they place it on top of the base map.
Just to give you an idea of how this works, at the FINAL clue spot, each hunter discovers their final transparent puzzle piece and a clue that says “You hold the final key in your hands. X marks the spot.” Translation: Place your puzzle piece on top of the base map (be sure to line up the symbols, example circled in red below) and where the X lines up, that is where your Easter basket is hidden!
Now that we understand the End Game (base map with transparent puzzle pieces with X marks the spot), I’ll run through all the puzzle / riddle types we used. Pick the ones you love and I’m sure you’ll come up with awesome ones on your own as well.
Here are ALL the riddle / puzzle types that were used in this scavenger hunt:
- The cipher riddle
- The inside-of-a-book riddle
- The decoder puzzle
- The invisible ink puzzle
- The safe cracking puzzle
- The Wheel of Fortune puzzle
- The maze with a custom message puzzle
- The mirror text riddle
The cipher riddle – Hunters must use a pipe with the right diameter to decode a riddle that’s written on a long strip of paper.
- PVC pipe
- Long strip of paper
- Permanent marker
How does it work?
- Cut a long strip of paper and wrap it around the PVC pipe (can be any diameter). Mark one end of the PVC pipe with a symbol—in the example below, it’s a STAR.
- Once it’s wrapped around the PVC tube, write your riddle directly on top of the paper. Mark a STAR at one of the pipe ends so that the hunter knows where to place the strip of paper to start. Pro tip: Tape both ends of the paper to the pipe so that it doesn’t come a part while you’re writing the message.
- Suggestion: You can separate the PVC pipe and the long strip of paper (that has the clue written on it) during the hunt. For example, at one leg of the hunt, you can give them the PVC pipe and tell them that they’ll need it along the way. A few clues down the road, you can then give them this long strip of paper as a clue. They’ll have to figure out that they need to wrap the paper around the pipe to decode the message.
The inside-of-a-book riddle – Hunters will find the clue on a specific page in a book.
- Book with numbered pages (any kind of book but not all books have numbered pages!).
How does it work?
- Write down 2-3 clues to give them individual digits. The numbers together will give them the exact page number to find their next clue. In this leg of the scavenger hunt, the hunter was told that “Dr. Seuss One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” held the next clue … but the clue was written in tiny letters on a specific page. The hunter was then given the following puzzles to solve:
- First, add 274 + 22 = 296
- Next, add these three individual numbers together (2 + 9 + 6) = 17
- Finally, add 3 to the answer above (3 + 17) = 20.
- The hunter went through our bookshelves to find the book and on page 20, written in super tiny letters, we wrote the word “pantry”. From there, the hunter went to the pantry in search of her next clue.
The decoder puzzle – Hunters can only decode the message using a special decoder.
- Decoder – I actually found one that came with a book set from Amazon … I didn’t use the book in the hunt but I used the decoder that came with it. Amazon listing, $4.42, https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00W6EDJHY/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
- Writing utensil.
How it works?
- First determine where you’re trying to send your hunter for the next clue.
- Next, come up with a silly message but you have to write it with symbols from the decoder (red dial button thing below). This hunter’s message decoded was “MY SILLY KITE”.
- Place circles around the letters the hunter must use to arrive at the final answer. In the example below, the circled letters wrote out the word MILK because we hid the next clue in the refrigerator.
The invisible ink puzzle – Hunter must use a special LED pen to reveal the next clue which is written in magic invisible ink!
- Invisible ink pen with UV LED light built-in. Amazon sells (14) pens, $10.99. I only used (4) for last year’s hunt and when I went to go get the remaining ones out of the closet, I noticed they were “sticky” and did not keep well—so unfortunately, don’t expect to use them for the next year. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07HVRWMP8/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
How it works?
- The cool thing about these pens is that they not only write the invisible ink but they have the LED light attached that will magically reveal the ink.
- The riddle on the paper says, “Kendall, Always remember to read in between the lines. It is time to light the way.” Leave space between the lines so that you can insert the next clue location using your magic ink pen. The “light the way” comment hints that the hunter needs to use their light pen to reveal the message “between the lines”.
- In this leg of the scavenger hunt, we wrote “8 sign”. Kendall had a huge number “8” in her room so she has to think about where she has seen an “8 sign”. For our younger child, Wilson, we made it easy and wrote “SHOWER” in magic ink.
The safe cracking puzzle – The hunter must determine the correct 4-digit code to “break the safe”
Materials: Kids safe, I bought ours on Amazon and they come in different colors for $19.99. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B074KS1L94/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
How it works?
- In this leg of the hunt, the hunter discovers a safe and there’s a 4-digit code to “break the safe open”. Inside the safe is another clue (or, in our case, was the "End Game" clue that held their portion of the map that will show them where their Easter baskets have been hidden). Since these safes are pricey, I thought it made sense to make it the “final” clue and the culmination of the hunt.
- Based on the child’s age, you can get creative on what puzzle “level” needs to be solved. For our eldest, “E”, who was 10 during this scavenger hunt, his final 4-digit code was 1618. The riddle was 1618 written in Roman Numerals so he had to use a Roman Numeral chart to decipher the code into 1618. For our youngest, Wilson, who was 5 during this hunt, we made him answer simple questions (ex. How old are you? How many cars are in the garage minus 1?) to determine his final 4-digit code.
The Wheel of Fortune puzzle – The hunter must solve the Wheel of Fortune puzzle to take them to the next clue
How it works?
- First, determine where you want your hunter to go next. In the example below, the final puzzle was “NEAR THE TELEVISION SET”.
- You can use this awesome Wheel of Fortune puzzle generator: https://www.thewordfinder.com/wof-puzzle-generator/ to create your clue. Use an “_” in the generator to make the tile blank so that the hunter has to “solve the puzzle” (I hear Pat Sajack’s voice right now) instead of giving them all the letters.
The maze with a custom message puzzle – Write your clue in a custom text that is embedded inside of a maze.
- Hunter is provided a pencil and a highlighter in this leg.
- Piece of paper to print the custom maze on.
How it works?
- In this leg of the hunt, the hunter is given this sheet of paper with the following clue: “When the Easter Bunny finds the carrot, the path will show you the way to the next clue. Hint: Use a pencil to find the right path first, then draw over the path with a highlighter.” The clue embedded in the maze will be the location of the next clue.
- To create the maze, first determine where you’re trying to send your hunter for the next clue. For example, if they arrive at this leg and the next stop you want them to go is to the dining room table, then you need create a maze with the custom text that says, “The next clue can be found under the dining room table.”
- Festisite has a super cool program located at https://www.festisite.com/text-layout/maze/ that allows you to input custom text and then generate a PDF document with the text embedded inside of a maze.
The Mirror text riddle – Hunter is given mirror text and needs to use a mirror to decode / read the message
- Mirror (optional), unless you have a window with light coming through that shines behind the piece of paper (see picture for example below).
How it works?
- In this leg, the hunter is provided a clue that says, “In order to find your precious prize, you must learn to use your eyes. Reflect on this message to find your first clue.” The hunter is also given a clue that looks like it’s written in gibberish. The idea is for them to get the hint that in order to “Reflect” on the message, they will need to use the reflection from a mirror.
- In order to generate your clue using Mirror Text, there are two ways you can do this.
- Option 1: Go to the TextFixer site https://www.textfixer.com/tools/reverse-text-generator.php and use their Reverse Text generator (make sure you scroll down the page to get to the Reverse Text generator). This creates the text that you can copy and paste into a Word Document and make bigger.
Reverse Text Converter option:
- Option 2: This is how I did it. I went into Power Point and created a text box with the text written in it. Next, highlight the text box, right-click, Save as Picture. Once the image is saved, re-insert that image back into the power point. Highlight the image so that the border appears and use the arrow cursor on the far right hand side to drag it to the left to reverse the image.
Okay, I realize that was A TON of information but again, pick the riddles/puzzles that you think kiddos would like the best. Once you figure out what clues you’re going to use then you can start assembling your custom scavenger hunt. Below is what Kendall’s “scavenger route” looked like (and yes, we did this for all four of our kids at the very same time so this took some serious planning).
- Start: Great room (under TV); Reflection clue #1, takes her to eggs. , put all black lights in pile for kids to take 1.
- Clue #2 @ Eggs in refrigerator, goes to Sneetches, page 37.
- Clue #3 @ Sneetches, page 37. Takes her to playroom fridge.
- Clue #4 @playroom fridge, takes her to television set.
- Clue #5 @ Television set, go to the gray table. (Add ancient decoder)
- Clue #6: @ Gray table (use black light) word “8” written in invisible ink.
- Clue #7: @”8” sign must use decoder and unscramble letters that send you to COUCH.
- Clue #8: @Couch (must use pencil, highlighter, and collect cipher pipe). Takes her to underwear.
- Clue #9: @Underwear (safe is there, need 4 digit code to unlock safe; inside is the cipher wrap). Cipher wrap should take Kendall to hotdogs in refrigerator for “X” marks the spot paper and her portion of the map.
Make sure you run through your scavenger route in your head a few times because it’s easy to get stuff mixed up. Either way, no matter what happens, your hunters are going to LOVE it.
Time are challenging and uncertain but I know we'll all get through this. I wish you joy, laughter and happiness with your hunt.
Stay healthy, stay safe and take care,