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Unique Classroom Ideas: Candy Cane Hunt

I am always trying to think outside of the box for my classes.  I am determined not to give my students a chance to get bored.  And for the most part it has been a successful endeavor.  And that is the reason for this post featuring a Candy Cane Hunt.

So what makes having a candy cane hunt a great unique classroom idea?  Any activities that you can do with your class that immediately allows them to change gears from the work they were doing.  But they need to be things that make their eyes light up!  And the time spent in these activities will be gained back many times over by refreshing your students souls!

Oh, and can I add that your soul will be refreshed as well by change in routine?

Choosing a Unique Classroom Activity

By the time kids get to middle school, they are kinda tired of charades, hangman, and all the other classroom standbys that they have been doing for so long.  So we teachers need to come up with some “knock it out of the ballpark” great ideas that will make their eyes light up instead of roll.

So what is my unique classroom idea for this week? It is a Candy Cane Hunt!

Christmas is right around the corner, and I can almost guarantee your classroom is feeling it.  Everybody is on edge and restless at this time of year.  Christmas and Christmas vacation is imminent.  And focusing on the task at hand can be very difficult.

So doing a fun activity like this can actually help your students to see that you are on their side!  You get their restlessness and lack of desire to be plugging away at their lessons.  So a quick distraction that lets them know you understand is a perfect idea!

The Surprise Element

If you spontaneously announce to the class in the middle of an especially difficult concept to put away what they are doing and line up at the door, they will first look at you like they are crazy.  Respond with a smile and that look of mischief/temporary insanity that teachers can be so good at.

They will return that with a smile and be ready for whatever you have up your sleeve.

Of course, you knew all along that you were going to do this.  But they don’t need to know that right now!

The Logistics of Your Candy Cane Hunt

1.  Getting Your Candy Canes

Okay, so the first thing we need to think about is procuring your candy canes.  I got a collection of every different size from the boxes of mini candy canes to the standard size, then one-foot tall ones and finally 3 2-foot tall ones.

2.  Pick Your Location

The next thing you need to do is choose a place to hold your candy cane hunt.  I chose one of our local parks because I love how the pavilions look just like gingerbread houses.  It made the perfect seasonal backdrop for our special activity.

If your candy cane hunt is a more spontaneous event, then you won’t be able to transport the students over to a park, but there are some great options at your school campus.  You can do it outside, whether on the playground, or in a nearby woodsy area.  You can also do it in a gymnasium or cafeteria, especially if those areas have a stage or extra features that you can find more hiding spots.

3.  Prep the Space

If you know that nobody else will be using the space in your time frame, then you can hide the candy canes ahead of time and then just get to it when the class gets there.

Another way around the prep part would be to have a teachers’ assistant or parent do it for you while you are with your class.  That will allow you to get things hidden just before you start.  It is by far the best option.  But if you don’t have an assistant, getting a parent to help will generally not be very spontaneous.

One more option would be while the kids are at PE, lunch, or another class that you are not teaching, you can set it up.  The students will never see a time that you were gone.

When you hide your candy canes, make sure you have every level of skill in hiding spots covered.  Think high and low, obvious and barely there.  I would make sure that all of them can be seen at least a little bit.  That will ensure that there won’t be any stragglers left behind to be discovered randomly three months later.

candy cane hunt

4.  The Hunt

Now is the time for the kids to try to find what you have hidden.

You and your assistant (if you have one) will have fun watching the kids as they hunt for those candy canes. Be prepared to help out the kids that aren’t so adept at finding things.  They will be grateful that you cared enough to make their experience fun too!

5.  Rewards

The reward is already built in because they will get to eat the candy cane(s) they found.  You will probably want to make sure there weren’t a huge surplus of candy canes to be found.  That way your kids won’t be eating 5 of them instead of one or two mini ones and a larger one.  The parents will thank you!

If you would like to supplement the reward, you can always give out some Christmas themed pencils or bookmarks.

Alternative Game Idea

One of my students’ favorite things to play has always been Sardines.  When we were doing Narnia, it was Lamp Post Sardines.  For Pilgrim’s Progress it was Burden Sardines.  The list goes on, but you get the idea.

So how does this relate?  You can use your large non-candy candy canes to play Sardines.

For those that are not familiar with what I am talking about, it is basically hide and seek with a theme.  One child hides with the candy cane in a spot that is out of sight but big enough for when people find them and can hide with them.  Then as people find the candy cane and person they will squeeze into that spot, hence the name Sardines.  This continues until the last student finds the hiding space and all of the others.

You will want a teachers’ assistant or parent to be with the initial student that leaves so that nobody is left unattended or lost.

The biggest problem I had with this game is that the kids want to keep playing and everybody wants a turn being the initial hiding person.  My best solution was to play it frequently enough that by the end of the year everyone had had at least one turn.  And promising the kids they would get a turn eventually does help to get everybody back to their academics.

candy cane hunt


Oh, and a final hint for you:  this trick works for your bored kids at home too!  And of course it works for homeschools too.  Just tell them to get their shoes on and get in the car.  Then head to the nearest park, playground, or other area that you know of that this could work in!  You would just need to either have slipped out for a bit to set them up, or you could have an older kid play on the playground while you are behind the scenes hiding them.

For more great ways to keep your students from getting and being bored, check out my article here.

Also, Canva has an amazing article with 19 ideas to promote more creativity in your classroom.  You can access that article by clicking here.

This Post Has 41 Comments

  1. Amber Myers

    How fun! I can see kids loving this idea. My kids are bummed that they are older and they don’t get to play these fun games anymore in school. Usually a Christmas movie is shown and that’s about it.

    1. Marie

      That is kinda sad. Too bad they can’t do older kid activities.

    1. Marie

      Great idea, Tara!

  2. Nyxinked

    What a wonderful idea! The kids would love this.

  3. Cristina Pop

    Now this looks like so much fun! I would definitely love to participate in something like this, and see the kids excitement!

  4. Adaleta Avdić

    This is such a fun idea! I so need to keep this in mind for the future.

  5. Myrah Duque

    So much fun! I am sure my nephews would love this idea. My daughter is 22 but thinks she is still in her younger years, and still takes part of these.

    1. Marie

      I’m glad your daughter still has fun with these things!

  6. Lily

    Now that sounds fun! I would love to visit a candy cane hut with kids!

  7. This is such a great idea! And a unique one as I’ve never heard of anything like it. I bet it’s fun.

  8. Agnes Dela Cruz

    Ideas like this is much appreciated! Definitely a fun event to go to.

  9. World in Eyes

    Oh wow these ideas sounds so damn interesting and amazing on though..glad you shared such useful idea of activity with us..great work though…

  10. Leah

    Oh I can totally see the kids having such a fun time doing this! Scavenger hunts would be a great way to break up the monotony. I love the idea of doing this around the holidays as well since kids (and teachers) become so antsy for the break that it’s hard to focus. Also, I’ve never heard of the game “Sardines” before but sounds like a great adaptation as well!

  11. Colleen

    This is such a great way to keep things fresh and fun! You have to do that with the kids, or they’ll just lose all interest.

  12. Claudia

    You are a genius! Things like this are how you keep kids engaged. Anything we can do to keep our kids excited about learning is great.

  13. Surekha

    A game with a built-in reward like this is genius! I know I can’t say no to candy canes.

  14. ashley t

    such a cute idea that sounds like fun. it will definitely keep kids engaged.

  15. Kevin Brotac

    What a great idea. My kids are not back to school yet, but we can try this at home. I bet they will enjoy doing this hunt. It is great to have some different activities to enjoy some time playing outside

  16. Heather

    This is such a cute idea! My kids would love to do something like this.

  17. Matt Taylor

    Such a fun idea for the classroom! The surprise factor is huge, especially since they weren’t expecting it, and then all of a sudden they get to go some place cool and hunt for candy canes! Perfect for the holidays too, it could be geared around a certain holiday.

  18. This sounds like such an incredible activity to get kids active and moving during the day. Definitely could incorporate it into a maths lesson or social skills lesson pending the age group of the classroom as well!

  19. Mayuri

    This looks like a great activity for kids especially because of its surprise element. I’ll try to do it with my daughter too…

  20. Lucy Clarke

    This is such an awesome idea! Would be great as a fun activity at home too.

  21. Joanna

    This is such a great idea for a class in nature. Books are another great idea as rewards, for whoever gathered the most candy canes.

  22. Emily Fata

    I love this idea for the classroom! It makes the season so much more fun for the children and thus, their learning experience all the better.

  23. Kuntala Bhattacharya

    This looks to be fun. Oh I wish I can go back to my childhood days. Very nice one, thanks for sharing such beautiful and cute posts,

  24. ivanamearns

    This idea is simply brilliant! Which kid would not like a candy-cane hut? How original and unique.

  25. Lyosha

    it sounds so awesome! If anybody ever made it for me I would have remembered about it forever and treasure it for sure

  26. katrina Kroeplin

    my kids would def love doing this idea. it’s not your normal activity and that’s what makes it so much fun.

  27. The Joyous Living

    i used to love the element of surprise in my classes. students would be on their best behavior hoping that there’d be a surprise for the day.

  28. Emman Damian

    I think Candy Cane Hunt will be good for Halloween or Christmas season. It’s a good activity and ice breaker. Fun times!

  29. This candy cane hunt activity can be truly an educational and social experience. What a cool educator you are!

  30. Nkem

    This sounds really fun! I wish I had the chance to engage in this as a student.

  31. Jasmine Martin

    This is such an awesome activity. It sounds like it’d be a lot of fun for students to participate in. I mean who doesn’t like candy canes? They are the best!

  32. Fabulous Perks

    My son was bummed when we broke it down that we were going to start homeschool. This post gave me so really good tips and ideas to implement.

  33. Lily

    A real unique class room experience. This would make learning fun.

  34. Nilakshi Pathak

    It is surely a fun and adventurous game for the kids. Now they can learn with fun.

  35. Marjie Mare

    This is an awesome idea that I am going to do with my younger daughter and niece. Thanks for sharing.

  36. Wow! Candy cane hunt idea sounds so fun 😍 I am sure, kids will love this activity ❤️

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