Online ESL Teaching Activity: Scavenger Hunt

Fun ESL Teaching Activity Scavenger Hunt

Duration: 15-20 Minutes

Type: Individuals/Small Groups

What you will need:

  • Zoom App or Google Hangouts
  • List of Items to Scavenge for (Images to represent vocabulary words, or an image to represent a paragraph, sentences that include particular vocabulary words, etc)
  • Fun Reward for the Winning Team


Students work individually or in small groups to look for items on the Internet that you have assigned. There should be a time limit and students need to be back in the main meeting with a list of words, sentences, images, videos or websites that they have found. You can give points to teams for the quality of what they find and a reward to the winning team.

How to Organize:

  1. Students can scavenge individually, but group scavenging provides opportunities to use communication skills.
  2. Give students a Scavenger Hunt challenge. See the list of ideas below.
  3. Give students a time that they need to be back in the group meeting. If they are late, they get docked points.
  4. Students break off into their teams (or individually) and find as many items as they can that fit the criteria. You can have them search for any or all of the following: words, sentences, images, videos, websites, products, etc. They can paste those items (or links to them) into a Google doc. 
  5. Students submit their completed file and meet back up in the group meeting in order to share what they found.
  6. You can reward the team with the best finds by giving them a free homework pass or by requiring all of the other teams to do 20 jumping jacks or by having everyone clap and cheer for them.
  7. Optional Variation: Students come up with their own lists of items to find in a scavenger hunt. Groups then trade lists and try to find the items from the other teams' lists.

Challenge Ideas: 

  1. Vocabulary: Students search for sentences that include the words from a list of vocabulary words they are learning. 
  2. Vocabulary: Students search for images that best fit vocabulary words that they are learning. For more abstract vocabulary words, they can find videos or definitions.
  3. Concepts: Students find websites and/or videos that best explain a concept they are trying to learn.
  4. Parts of Speech: Students can find and take pictures of items in their house and label them with adjectives, nouns or verbs.
  5. Speaking/Writing: Students find pictures of things related to a particular topic or concept. They can then record audio over the picture (using Seesaw or Flipgrid) or writing a sentence about the picture (using almost any tool, but Google docs would work well).
  6. Listening: You can do this with places: After listening to you describe a place, students race to try to find that place in Google Maps based only on the description. You can also do this with objects: After listening to you describe an object, students race to try to find an image of that object based on the description.
  7. What challenge ideas do you have? Leave a note in the comments.


  • This activity is much more student-directed. They need to discuss with other members in their groups in order to pass challenges giving them valuable communication and problem-solving practice.
  • Students can use their native language in their small groups if they speak the same language and then pass their challenges in English.
  • You can also read a description of this activity from the University of Illinois here.

Used this activity before or have a variation? Share about it in the comments below!

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