Apps, Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, Education, Games, K-12, Motivation, Parenting, QR Codes, Student Products, Teaching Tools, Websites

Don’t Leave it to the Goonies


I have been devoting this week to ways to engage young minds over the summer.  Here is the breakdown so far: Camp Wonderopolis, Maker Camp, Making Movies.  Last summer, I also did a series of posts on avoiding the “summer slide”, and you can access all of those links, including a ton of suggestions for using the ubiquitous pool noodle, here.

I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite movies of all time is The Goonies.  I think it appeals to the inner child in all of us – the quest for adventure and the ability to figure out the answers to diabolical clues.  Of course, we don’t want to expose our children to the danger faced by the movie characters.  But we can still give them a taste of the fun – and even join in on it, too.  Here are some various levels of “hunts” that might get the entire family involved:

Make Your Own

  • Klikaklu – You can use this iOS app to create scavenger hunts that are triggered by images you choose.
  • QR Codes – You can use this easy QR Treasure Hunt Generator  to develop a fun mission for any child with access to a mobile device that has a QR code scanning app.
  • GeoSettr – You can create a fun geography challenge using this web-based site that utilizes Google Street View and GeoGssr.

Provided For You

  • Geocaching – If you have not tried this free adventure that is fun for the whole family, I highly encourage you to give it a try.  It will get you outside, and you will often learn more about the area that you are in than you ever realized you didn’t know!  For a great introduction to this sport, I recommend: “How to Have a Family Treasure Hunt: Geocaching with Kids.”
  • Brain Chase – This is not free ($199), but looks quite intriguing.  It’s an innovative concept from some parents based in Austin, Texas, but it is designed to be global.  According to the site, Brain Chase is “a 6-week summer learning challenge disguised as a massive global treasure hunt for 2nd−8th graders. A golden globe has been buried somewhere on earth – and it contains the key to a safe deposit box holding a $10,000 college scholarship fund.”  Because it’s new (and $199), I have no experience with it.  If you participate, I would love to hear your thoughts!

Remember, it doesn’t have to be up to the adults to create the fun.  Older children enjoy creating scavenger hunts just as much as participating in them!  Just make sure you go over internet safety as well as outdoor safety (particularly if you are geocaching – we were attacked by a turkey vulture guarding her eggs one time when we poked around in a hollow tree!) before the exploring commences!


Apps, Education, K-12, Motivation, Parenting, Teaching Tools, Videos


screen shot from Klikaklu app video
screen shot from Klikaklu app video

One of the apps I am itching to try with my students this semester is one that I “field-tested” with my daughter over the break.  It’s called Klikaklu, and it allows you to make scavenger hunts.

Last Christmas, I got this crazy idea to “code” all of the gifts under the tree instead of writing names on the tags.  Christmas morning, my daughter had to scan each code with Aurasma, and it brought up a short video telling her who the gift was for.

I couldn’t really tell how the whole concept went over.  Since it was a lot of work, and she didn’t make a big deal about it, I decided not to go to those lengths this year.

A few days before Christmas: “Mom, are you going to do that cool Aurasma thing with the gifts this year?”

All gifts were already wrapped.  And tagged.


Then I remembered Klikaklu, a scavenger hunt app I had seen mentioned on Twitter, and decided to investigate.  Thank goodness for Twitter.

A few caveats before I go on to explain the app: only people who are 13 and over are supposed to create hunts using the app (but anyone can play the hunts), the app is free – but there are in-app purchases required to get all of the features for creation (in-app purchases are not required to play the full-featured version), as in Aurasma some images don’t work well for triggers, and it’s possible your school firewall may block the app (so, I would definitely test the free app before investing in the in-app purchase).

Klikaklu is similar to Aurasma in that you can use trigger images.  However, the images are not linked to videos.  Each image can have a clue attached it.  Once a player finds an image, and matches it with a device with the app, the clue shows and then you can go on to the next image.

For my daughter’s hunt, I did a simple one using images from around the house.  For each image, I input a clue with a letter.  After seven images and clues, my daughter had to unscramble the letters to find her gift.

Her constant comment as she raced around the house looking for the images (the one from the lid of the washing machine was particularly challenging): “I LOVE this!”  (She is 11, by the way.)

I believe that the free version allows you to create hunts with a maximum of 3 images.  Hunts do not have to be indoors.  You can activate the GPS portion of hunts to make a worldwide scavenger hunt if you like.  (Actually, the GPS portion is already activated by default, but you can turn it off if you are a lazy mom like me creating a close-proximity, indoor hunt the night before Christmas.)

Though I don’t like in-app purchases, I did like this one.  That is because I could purchase and make the hunt on my personal phone, but any iDevice with the free app can still play it.  So, I can create hunts for my students to use on our school iPads without needing to go through the app-buying red tape required for volume purchases.

According to the site, the advantages of upgrading Klikaklu mean that:

  • You will no longer see ads in any hunts you play.
  • Any hunts you create become ad-free for players.
  • You can create scavenger and staggered treasure hunts (great for groups).
  • You can print out posters for events, making it easy for others to play your hunt.

The posters and the staggered hunts are what sold it to me.  The poster has a QR code, so players just need to scan it to start a hunt.  Staggered hunts means that I won’t have an entire class of kids all looking for the same image at once.

The site has a great FAQ section if you need help.  Here is a link to a video that explains the app perfectly.  By the way, Klikaklu is an iPhone app (though it also works on iPads), so be sure you have that selected if you are searching for it in the App Store.

You might to make a hunt for a Brain Break, or to review for a test, or just to scatter your students for 10 minutes while you catch your breath;) Whatever the reason, you should take a look at Klikaklu.

At the very least, you now know a great way to draw out the suspense on Christmas morning.