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How to Plan a Library Scavenger Hunt


A great activity for your homeschool group or co-op is a library scavenger hunt. Working with your librarian, plan a gathering for homeschoolers that includes sending the kids throughout the library to find resources, so they’ll get to know the library better. If the scavenger hunt is promoted by the library, you might even find some more homeschooling friends in your community if they show up at the scavenger hunt.Plan a Library Scavenger Hunt

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You can organize the kids into pairs or teams (and have the youngest kids hunt with an adult), and send them out with a list of things for each child to find or do in the library.

Your Library Scavenger Hunt List

A sample library scavenger hunt list might suggest:

  1. Find one fiction book from the Children’s Section of the library
  2. Find one picture book from the Children’s Section of the library
  3. Find one biography
  4. Find a non-fiction book about science
  5. Find one children’s audio book
  6. Pick up a flyer on how to borrow electronic books from your library
  7. Look up one book on the library’s computer catalog. Write down the title, author, and call number — then go find the book.
  8. Apply for a library card
  9. Check out a book
  10. Write down the time and day of the week of story time or book club for your age group.
  11. Find the periodical section of the library and one magazine that is available for checkout
  12. Find the paperback swap area
  13. Introduce yourself to a librarian and ask for a book recommendation
  14. Find where you can sign up for the summer reading program
  15. Find the sign-up or directions for using a library computer
  16. Find the teen section of the library
  17. Pick up a flyer on your library’s annual book sale or other fund raiser
  18. Find out what resources the library has (some have 3D printers!) and when they can be used
  19. For older students, find out what databases the library has access to and if they are available remotely

Plan Your Library Scavenger Hunt With Your Librarian

Incorporate your librarian in your planning, including picking a date and time that works well for the library and refining your list of items to be hunted. A librarian may have ideas for additional items that should be “scavenged” based on their services or what they have observed about which resources are most helpful to homeschoolers or under-used by the public.

For small groups, some librarians may think it’s great for the kids to select the physical books and other materials and bring them as “evidence” of what they have scavenged in the library scavenger hunt. Larger groups in busier libraries may be asked to write down the names of books in the hunt — unless they are really going to check out the books.

Use the library scavenger hunt as an opportunity to practice library manners. The hunt may be fun and exciting, especially if you introduce a competitive aspect (see how many you can find in 30 minutes or get points for each item found), but it’s a great time to explain to the kids about respectful library etiquette. Just because you’re on a “mission” in the library doesn’t mean you can run or be disruptive.

And, I’ll be frank, if you have a relationship with a librarian who has actually let you know that there are a few homeschooling families who don’t know library etiquette or whose children need to be supervised a bit more closely, just before the scavenger hunt is a great chance for the librarian a few minutes to provide a warm welcome and go over basic library rules and why they matter. Addressing the whole group can give a librarian a friendly way to help families who need to know more about respectful library use, without singling anyone out.

If your library has a community room, the families in your group can gather afterward to share their finds on the library scavenger hunt or to see who “won,” if you set up a competition. Or, you may follow the library scavenger hunt with a story telling session or other activity the librarian might recommend. Once checked-out library materials are safely tucked in tote bags, you might share snacks or lunch.

Before your library scavenger hunt

  • Meet with your librarian for planning
    • Setting time and date
    • Availability of librarians to assist children or speak to the group
    • Suggestions about items to be scavenged and “rules” for the scavenger hunt
    • Reservation for the community room if you will need it
    • Coordination of any additional program like a story telling session
    • Publicity for the event in a library flyer, bulletin board, or online newsletter or social media
  • Publicize the scavenger hunt on homeschool email lists, Facebook, local blogs, and in your local newspaper
  • Create and copy the scavenger hunt list
  • If you can, have another homeschool parent on standby to serve as last-minute host if you or your kids happen to be sick on scavenger hunt day

Benefits of a Homeschool Library Scavenger Hunt

Your library scavenger hunt for homeschoolers will be a great way to get families together and provide an orientation to your library. Additionally, you will build a positive relationship with your librarian for all the homeschoolers in your community. And, if you live in an area that is frequently too hot or too cold for comfortable get-togethers during some months, a library scavenger hunt is an interesting alternative to a typical field trip — that can’t get rained out. Finally, being familiar with your library saves money on homeschooling — there are so many resources there you can use for free if you know about them, so the scavenger hunt will probably bring you a few ideas to help you homeschool on a budget.

For other ideas, search the internet for library scavenger hunts.

Jeanne Faulconer

A popular speaker at homeschooling conferences, business groups, and parents’ groups, Jeanne Potts Faulconer homeschooled her three sons in North Carolina, Mississippi, and Virginia for twenty years. Jeanne is director of Brave Writer's Homeschool Alliance, which provides homeschool coaching, community, and "grad school for homeschool" for parents. She is the contributing editor for TheHomeSchoolMom newsletter and writes the popular Ask Jeanne column, addressing homeschool parents' questions here at TheHomeSchoolMom. She is a former college faculty member, former editor and book reviewer for Home Education Magazine, a long-time editor for VaHomeschoolers Voice, and a news correspondent for WCVE, an NPR-member station. Holding her Master of Arts degree in Communication, Jeanne has conducted portfolio evaluations for Virginia homeschoolers for evidence of progress for many years.

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