In advance of your event, purchase a padlet.com account (choice of 30-day or 12-month plan.)
Once you become familiar with the padlet technology, you have four primary tasks to complete:
– Choose a selection of puzzles & challenges to populate your event (refer Resources tab;);
– Select your preferred challenge format, ie time-limited or linear;
– Create a unique padlet (page) for each challenge; and
– Create your Welcome slides to prepare your group to know how to play.
Choose your preferred video-conferencing platform to gather your group for the event, eg Zoom.
On the day, start your video conference meeting and share your Welcome slides.
When ready and all questions have been answered, share the starting URL with your group to (a) invite team members to become acquainted with one another and/or (b) commence their first challenge.
Allocate your group to small breakout rooms of 3 to 5 people.
Once started, monitor the Help padlet to offer assistance, if and when required.
If desired, pop in and out of the various breakout rooms to check on the progress of individual teams.
Broadcast a message to all breakout rooms 10 minutes prior to the nominated finish time that the scavenger hunt is about to end.
Upon the conclusion of the event, greet all participants as they return to the primary meeting room.
Process the experience as required or desired.
Step 1: Select & Create Challenges (Padlets)
Don’t forget, you can download 60+ templates from the Resources tab, many of which are ready to be copy & pasted directly into your padlets.
Step 2: How to Create Multiple Padlets (& Save Lots of Time)
Many padlets which are integrated into online scavenger hunts have a similar format. This video will show you how to save a lot of duplication and time.
Step 3: How to Embed a Password
If you choose to adopt a linear format for your online scavenger hunt, this video will show you how easy it is to secure a padlet with a password (which is typically an answer to unlock the next challenge.)
Step 4: Preparing your Welcome Slides
One of your final steps is to create a set of slides to help your group prepare for your online event.
How To Play Narrative
In our efforts to adapt the ever-popular Scavenger Hunt group activity to the virtual world, playmeo had two primary objectives – it had to be simple and inexpensive to set-up and, importantly, easy for teams of participants to use on the day of the event.
In our search for the best platform, we settled on padlet.com. Like all software solutions, there is a learning curve, but it’s relatively short and we’ve created a ton of useful tutorials and resources to help you succeed. We’ve also made it super-easy for you to create your own sequence of challenges by supplying everything you need to populate them.
Plus, as a playmeo member, you get unlimited tech support to help you bring your event online. Just ask for help at any time.
Specifically, this is what we have in store for you:
54+ challenge & puzzle templates (see Resources tab)
6 complete sets of secret code templates (see Resources tab)
Video tutorials that will guide you every step of the way (see Video Tutorial tab.)
Feel free to skip ahead and watch the video tutorials or continue with the steps below to learn more.
Your First Step
…is to register for a monthly or annual (Individual Pro) padlet account. If you intend on conducting regular online scavenger hunt events, sign-up for an annual plan for $96, or if you’re planning a one-off event, register for a monthly plan for only $12 and cancel in 30 days.
Once you become familiar with the padlet technology (don’t worry, it’s pretty easy,) you have five primary tasks to complete:
Create a selection of puzzles and/or challenges to populate your scavenger hunt;
Select your preferred challenge format;
Create a unique padlet (page) for each challenge;
Create your Welcome slides to prepare your group to know how to play; and
Facilitate the event & offer help when necessary.
The following sections will guide you step by step through each of these tasks.
By the way, if at some point you realise that you do not want to bother with this effort, you can always engage playmeo to design & deliver an online scavenger hunt for you. It’s super cost-effective and guaranteed to work (or you don’t pay.)
This is the fun part, creating and/or selecting the puzzles or challenges you want your group to engage with.
To get started, take a look at the 60+ templates of fun challenges and puzzles we have built for you in the Resources tab, all of them ready for you to download and integrate into your event. They include collections of:
Brain Teasers (11)
Secret Codes (6)
Map & Geography Puzzles (10)
Picture & Word Puzzles (33)
Miscellaneous Challenges (6)
No doubt, many of these pre-prepared challenges will inspire you to think of new ideas, which is what we hope you do.
To keep people engaged, be sure to integrate a wide variety of challenges rather than use one or two types, ie do not present a series of secret code puzzles only.
Most groups, when working in small teams, have been engaged effectively for 40 to 60 minutes which strikes a good balance between motivation and depth. In this time, they successfully completed between 7 and 12 puzzles and challenges.
Naturally, timing will always vary according to the type and difficulty of the challenges you choose and the abilities of your group.
Note, you will need to create one unique padlet (or page) for every challenge you choose to present (this is super-easy, look in the Video Tutorial tab for the Creating Padlets video to show you how.)
To illustrate how padlets work, two ready-to-view online examples will be presented in a later section.
Step 2. Choose Your Preferred Challenge Format
Once you have chosen your series of challenges, you need to decide the most suitable format in which to present them. Broadly speaking, you have two choices:
Time-Limited – solve a series of challenges in any order within a defined timeframe; or
Linear – solve a series of challenges in a particular sequence, meaning every team will progress through the challenges in the exact same order, ie they can not tackle any challenge until they have solved the previous challenge.
In case you’re wondering, one format is not necessarily better than the other, it really depends on your purpose and the type of program you are running.
The primary difference between each format is the sequence in which you present your challenges/padlets:
Time-Limited – you will create one central padlet from which every team starts, providing direct links to each of the various challenges you have created. This means each team will choose which challenges to engage with and in what order;
Linear – every team starts with the same opening challenge and can only progress to the next challenge when they have solved the first. To this end, it will be necessary to embed password-protected security for each challenge. This is very easy to do – refer to the Video Tutorial tab for the Securing Padlets video tutorial to learn how.
Step 3. Create Series of Padlets
Your next task is to create a unique padlet (or page) for each of your chosen puzzles or challenges, plus one or two others to support the start and closing elements of your event.
In practical terms, this means you will embed the content and data of your chosen set of puzzles and challenges (you will find several collections of them in the Resources tab) into a series of padlets which you will create. In almost all cases, your content will comprise text and images and, on occasions, audio & video files.
To make this task super-easy, I have produced three video tutorials that are worth watching right now (see Video Tutorial tab.) Then, I present two practical examples you can explore online (see section below.)
Select & Create Challenges (Creating Padlets)
How to Create Multiple Padlets (Remaking Padlets)
How To Embed a Password (Securing Padlets)
To guide your efforts, I have created the structure of two ready-to-view online scavenger hunts, one for each format:
(a) Time-Limited Scavenger Hunt
Here’s a simple online scavenger hunt structure with three challenges to give you a glimpse of what padlets look like and how they function (click the links to explore:)
Start Here (this padlet features links to ALL of the following challenges)
For time-limited scavenger hunts, you could choose to add the instructions for all of the challenges within one padlet. This approach may be simpler, but certainly not as interesting – you choose.
Note, each padlet is identified with a unique URL (or web page.)
(b) Linear Scavenger Hunt
Here’s a simple online scavenger hunt structure with three linear challenges to give you a glimpse of how you progress from one challenge to the next (you will need to start from the Start Here padlet.)
All teams will be directed to this padlet (page) at the very start and will see one link only to the first challenge. You may also invite your teams to engage in one or more get-to-know-you activities before they open their first challenge.
When each challenge is solved, a team must enter their answer (which represents a password) into a pop-up box to unlock the next challenge. This means, that you will embed the URL of the next padlet (challenge) as part of this link, which in the case of the above challenges read as “Click HERE to enter your answer.”
Only if the answer entered is correct will they progress to the next challenge. As guided in this sample padlet, click the link to the first challenge above to test this in real-time.
You can learn how to change the privacy and password settings of a padlet in the Securing Padlets video tutorial.
One benefit of the padlet technology is that it allows all teams to progress through the challenges at their own pace without interference from others. And with password-protect security, it is not possible for any challenge to be viewed unless and until the correct password (answer) is entered solving the challenge before it.
Step 4. Prepare Welcome Slides
You’re now ready to create a set of slides that will help prepare your group for what they need to know and how to navigate their way through the hunt.
If not viewed already, take a look at the Preparing your Welcome Slides video (see Video Tutorial tab) to become acquainted with a generic set of Welcome slides. Feel free to adopt the structure of these generic slides for your own purposes.
Generally speaking, you want to present the following information (at a minimum:)
Set-Up – explain that this is an online, team-based event with a series of challenges where technology is not only permitted, it is expected to be used;
How It Works – describe the formation of teams, how they can collaborate effectively and move between the various challenges;
Logistics – explain what devices will play nicely with the technology and how help can be accessed at any time; and
Getting Ready – describe the steps to allocating teams, the starting URL, what to do when they arrive in their breakout rooms and any necessary timeframes.
Once your slides are prepared, you share them via your video conferencing platform, eg Zoom, to prepare your group.
Step 5. Facilitate Your Event
Honestly, the above four steps are the most time-consuming (but totally satisfying.)
And happily, once you put the effort in, you can replay your scavenger hunt over and over again with very little extra effort.
With all of the necessary collateral prepared, the remaining steps are pretty easy.
playmeo has only ever used Zoom as its preferred video conferencing/meeting platform, but you can use most other popular video meeting software applications (such as Webex, MS Teams, GoToMeeting and Bluejeans) to host your online scavenger hunt. That said, we always recommend Zoom to our members and clients because it’s widely-known and features the most user-friendly bells & whistles.
Naturally, one of your next steps is to look after the set-up of the video conference meeting (to host the scavenger hunt) and registrations.
Once the day/night arrives, you will welcome your group to the event and share your screen to present your Welcome slides. This should take no more than 10 minutes.
Look after any questions, synchronise your watches, and you’re ready to share the starting URL (your first padlet) with your group.
Be sure to share the starting URL BEFORE you move into breakout rooms, lest it becomes difficult to communicate this vital data afterwards (yep, this advice comes directly from first-hand experience.) To make it super-easy for your group, enter the starting URL into your chat room (it will likely appear as a clickable link.)
In regards to team size, I strongly recommend teams of no less than 3 and no more than 5 people. Every group is different, of course, but groups of two are not fun enough and six or more become a bit unwieldy.
A Strong Recommendation…
If your groups are a mix of strangers, it’s a really good idea to allow 5 to 10 minutes before the hunt officially starts for the members of each small team to get to know one another. There are ample fun ways to make this happen, just select the Virtual Filter tab when you search our growing library of (virtual) icebreakers.
If this interests you, take a look at this padlet as just one example of what is possible. In this case, I invited each small team to share some interesting information about themselves and upload a screenshot of their collective Zoom video thumbnails to share with others (and to verify that they were ready to start.)
Your event has now started, your teams are busy acquainting themselves and/or starting to tackle their first challenge, and… you haven’t got much else to do. If you’ve prepared well, this is exactly what should be happening.
However, as we all live in the real world, you can expect some teams or individuals to need help. This is where the Help padlet comes in.
My strongest recommendation is to embed a simple link to your Help padlet on every one of your challenge padlets/pages, eg look for the red Help link at the bottom of the sample padlets referenced above.
When someone clicks on the Help link, a new browser window will open to reveal a unique Help chatroom padlet where they will be invited to ask their question or seek help.
The Help padlet is really the only screen you must monitor during the event so you can respond in a timely manner as soon as someone has a question or needs help. This help function is a simple and user-friendly option for those who need assistance.
Depending on your circumstances, you may also be able to offer the following help options:
Telephone support, where time zones make this suitable;
Text message or social media app support such as WhatsApp or Facebook groups; or
Video conference support, whereby one team member leaves their breakout room to speak with you (ie your Zoom meeting is still active) after which you will need to manually return this person to their team’s breakout room.
Finally, and depending on the features of your video conferencing platform, you may also be able to pop in and out of the various breakout rooms to check on the progress of your teams.
It’s good practice to broadcast a whole-of-group message to all breakout rooms about 10 minutes prior to the finishing time. In my experience, this is always greeted with shrieks of “What? Only 10 minutes left…!”
Then, once the nominated time has elapsed or everyone has returned to the primary meeting room (because they have completed all of the challenges,) you will greet all participants as they return from their various breakout rooms.
If team development was your goal, or even if it wasn’t, it’s always a good idea to invite your group to reflect on what just happened. There will be many stories to tell, especially as almost all of the action was in small teams out of sight of the whole group.
If you need help, just reach out. Having run many padlet-fuelled online scavenger hunts now, there are very few problems I can’t fix or don’t have a solution for.
And if you’ve got this far and now realise you don’t want to go to all of this effort, you can always engage me to design & deliver your online scavenger hunt for you. It’s super cost-effective and guaranteed to work (or you don’t pay.)
Don’t forget, if you need help – any help – to design and create your very own online scavenger hunt, let me know. As a playmeo member, my time is yours.
Yes, it is entirely possible to use other software to conduct an online scavenger hunt, some of which is free, eg Google Docs, Jamboard and Google Slides. In our experience, however, these options are more complicated than they need to be and fraught with technology issues. Of course, like all software solutions, padlet has its limitations, too. But, compared to the alternatives and based on the results of many real trials, padlet is far and away the best platform to deliver n online scavenger hunt. I hope you agree. And if you don’t, please reach out to playmeo for help, we’d be happy to problem-solve with you.
Beware those in your group who may struggle with technology. It is fair to say not everyone will be as tech-savvy as you, so what may be obvious to you may be downright hidden to others. When in doubt, provide a direction and if possible, add a video, ie most people know how to click the video play button.
If you adopt a Time-Limited format, it is common to see some teams divide the total number of tasks and assign certain members to them, eg different people will solve different challenges at the same time. On one hand, there is nothing inherently wrong with this efficient approach, but if your intention is to invite lots of sharing and interaction as a small team, then this may not be the most useful format. You could require small teams to ‘stay together’ but this is hard to monitor, not to mention police.
Note, every padlet challenge is hosted on its own unique URL. This means that it is highly likely that your teams will have opened 10 or more new browser windows before your event is complete. There is nothing wrong with this occurring, but some participants report getting lost when they move around some of their browser windows.
To repeat. if you’d rather engage a professional to design and conduct an online scavenger hunt for your group, reach out to playmeo for a quote which includes personalised design and delivery using the awesome padlet platform. It’s really affordable, so enquire today.
Pick & Choose: Set-up many more challenges than any one team could be expected to complete in a nominated period. Stop the hunt after, say, 45 or 60 minutes, and acknowledge the team that completes the most number of challenges as the winner.
More or Less: Adding to above, assign different point values to each challenge according to their relative difficulty. This means a team may elect to complete lots of easier challenges or only a handful of the harder challenges for the same number of points. The team that earns the most number of points at the end (regardless of the number of challenges they complete) wins.
List & Grab: Prepare a list of common and unusual objects and challenge each individual (participating in your online event) to locate and show (to the camera) as many of these items as possible. Award one or more points per item found and the person who claims the most points wins.
Classic small group initiative with thrilling climax.
Raucous medley of spontaneous small group activity fun.
One of the most contagiously fun dice games, ever.
Useful Framing Ideas
As you know, our group is spread all over the world, so coming together is difficult to make happen right now. Yet, this will not prevent you from working together in small teams to solve a series of fun challenges…
Many of you will have enjoyed a “scavenger hunt” when you were in school or perhaps a youth group or camp program. Admittedly, while few of us are located in the same place right now, it is possible to bring the joy of a scavenger hunt to you…
Reflection Tips & Strategies
Coupled with one or more reflection strategies, here are some sample questions you could use to process your group’s experience after playing this wonderful virtual exercise:
Which puzzles or challenges did your team enjoy the most? Why?
Which puzzles or challenges did your team struggle with? Why?
What elements of teamwork were the most useful in this activity?
What were your most significant memories of your experience?
What did you learn about others (or yourself) during this exercise?
While the inspiration for the puzzles and challenges themselves are sourced from many people and places, the design of the actual Online Scavenger Hunt templates (not to mention the integration with the padlet technology) is all playmeo.