It should come to no one’s surprise that students like activities. I’m an adult, and I like activities! In fact, I outlined how you could turn any worksheet into an activity here. My particular favorite is the scavenger hunt. Let’s dive into why it is a favorite for both my students and me.

# ACTIVITIES FOR ENGAGEMENT:

# THE SCAVENGER HUNT

## How It Works

Scavenger hunts work like this. You have anywhere from 10 to 20 stations posted around the room. We will define a station as one piece of paper with one problem on it. Each station has a problem on the bottom half and a solution from another station on the top half.

Students go to one station, solve the problem, and use the answer they just found to determine which station go to next. If they do not see their answer on the top of another station, then they will need to rework the problem. A student is finished when they get back to the station where they originally started, thus completing the loop.

## Why Students Like It

Students enjoy this activity because it gets them out of their seats and moving around. S**tudents are more engaged in their work, they get to discuss problems with different students than the ones they usually sit by, and it allows them to work at their own speed.**

## Why Teachers Like It

Besides the reasons listed above, teachers like it because it allows students to self-check. Students don’t need to ask if they are correct or not because they can figure this out on their own.

This is also an opportunity to pull a small group which you can do two ways. **You can actually pull 3-5 students and sit them down for a small group lesson or you can travel with a group of students and use your scavenger hunt as the small group lesson.**

Lastly, there is very little preparation time that is required to create a scavenger hunt. You just need a set of problems copied on different sheets on paper. The answer can be written on the next station in the stack of paper and then you just have to randomly mix them up when hanging them around your room.

## Differentiate with Scavenger Hunts

If you have the time to go above and beyond, then use this activity as an opportunity to differentiate. You could have two different scavenger hunts going at the same time. **You print them on different colored paper and assign students (based on their last set of data) to which scavenger hunt they are completing.** Example: The pink stations are for those who scored below an 80% on the last quiz, and the yellow stations are for those who scored higher than an 80%. (This will also slow down some of your early finishers.)

## Helpful Hints

- Require students to work a problem again before they can ask for help from you.
- Give time reminders. Be more specific than, “There are 20 minutes left.” Say, “You should have X amount of problems completed by now.”
- Have a plan for students who are struggling to stay on task or who get too loud. I print out another copy of the problems that can be completed seated.
- For larger classes, consider using the hallway or the library so that groups are not too close to each other.

Remember that after you give clear directions, you should model how it should work before students get started. For good measure, have a student repeat the directions back to the entire class. Have you tried scavenger hunts in your classroom before?

Ann Leach says

Do you put the Alphabet on each station? Have your students discovered they can go in abc order and find the answers? Or do they start at any station and work their way through?

Tyne Brack says

The alphabet just helps identify which problem they are solving on paper. The answers will not be the next letter in the alphabet. For example, students can be at station B and the answer to station B is located at station G. I hope that helps! And yes, they can start at any station. When they finish, they will be at the station they started at.

Shelby says

I never thought about the differentiation with different colors of paper such a simple but brilliant idea. Taking that a step further, I always have a few early finishers who are good to work with small groups and I could just post open ended questions that involve more work and your not exactly led to the next answer, just saying no more than 2 people at a whatever colored card.

My issue that I have ran into that is sort of hard to deal with is that students will often wait and see a close answer choose that and move on and get down to the last few and THEN they come to me that they think they messed up and it takes awhile to figure out where they messed up. This is so frustrating and no matter how many times we do these it ALWAYS happens. I’ve been trying to think of a way around this. I was thinking about having the students number their order in how they work the problems in their work space and maybe I could have a key handy and do a quick scan from there. It often ties me up with one when there are 5 others that need quick help. Not that this one doesn’t deserve my attention but in all honesty it is generally that kid who is 3 to 4 grade levels below and they need tons of individual help in most things we do. Being in 8th grade I try hard not to discourage or embarrass them and I am thankful when they will ask for help. I like for them to sometimes do what the others are doing an not draw a lot of attention to them. Sometimes I have students who can help but not always. I wind up looking for any success they may have and praise that and give some sort of participation grade.

I would appreciate any advice if anyone has also encountered this.

Rebecca says

I love using scavenger hunts in my classroom. My students love them as well. I often use them to differentiate. Those that feel they know the topic well do the scavenger hunt on their own. Those that feel they’re still learning can do it with a partner–but both still have to show all of their own work on their papers.