Adventurous spirits fly high in our family; we love treasure hunts. An Easter hunt is a must – last year I had to climb on the roof of our house to get my biggest egg. But other holidays are not a complete write-off for organizing a small treasure hunt with a map or hints to make the members of our family run, crawl or climb around the house. In fact, this little family tradition started at the same time our family did – I found my engagement ring at the final stop of such a map.
Last Easter Budster was a casual observer, but this year he enjoyed searching for colourful eggs in the yard. I was looking forward to having similar games in the future when I stumbled upon the idea of a scavenger hunt. The concept was new to me, so I had to find out about how it was done.
A scavenger hunt is a game in which participants are looking for items on their list. In some variations of this game the list consists of defined objects (an oak leaf, a rock, an ant), while in others the participants are looking for characteristics (something red, something delicious, something funny). After the necessary items are found, different course of actions can be required as well: to simply find the items and strike them out off your list, to bring them back, or to photograph them, etc. The search can be as small as to include only one room, or as big as to be held in several cities. I think we will have to wait to perform such a global search, but I decided that nothing prevents us from starting to play in our immediate surroundings.
At seventeen months of age, Budster has just started showing interest in matching objects with their pictures. He would look at the picture of a triggerfish in the book and point excitedly at his figurine. So I needed to keep things simple and familiar.
One morning, I brought a camera and sheet of white paper on our morning walk. While Budster was playing in a sand box, I ran around the garden, photographing rocks and flowers. Touching – grabbing, actually! – is still a very important way for my son to explore the world, and I wanted him to be able to collect his finds. That’s why all the animals and insects stayed out of our toddler-friendly hunt. We will get to them in the future.
Later, pondering over my photos, I wondered what would be the best way to present the game. A set of cards on a ring would fit well in a pocket, while printing a sheet of paper would show all the objects at once and look serious and adult-like.
Both of those options seemed nice. However, what Budster really likes is putting things inside small boxes, so I dug out our big basket of craft supplies and found a wooden display memory box there. I cut out pictures and taped them in the cells. We had a box to keep our treasures in, we were heading out out on an adventure.
At first it seemed like it took Budster time to get the meaning of the game, but he was very compliant with looking at blossoms with me and putting a pine cone in a box cell. When we got to the rocks, he felt that each cell should have a rock of its own. When we go for walks, Budster cannot pass any gravel path without collecting a couple of rocks.
The next day I brought the box out again, and this time he recognized it right away. He found a dandelion, a pinecone, a quince blossom and a rock and put them in the right cells.
He still seemed to be having troubles with dry and green leaves: they must blend in the surroundings considerably more than bright flowers, and he does not pay attention to them as much as a month ago. We will keep playing our game, and see what we can find in our yard and around it.
Other than being fun, this game provides plenty of educational benefits. First of all, it encourages children to learn new words in a hands-on way. The game develops logical thinking when toddlers attempt to match pictorial representations with real objects. The sensory experience that comes from handling different objects cannot be underestimated either. Additionally, the search can be arranged to teach different sciences on a primitive level: biology, botany, geology are some that spring to mind right away. Next time, we will be looking for flowers in our yard, and I will see if I can learn a few as well.
For now, you can download our template in a pdf form or make your own. What would you hunt for? If you want to stay updated on other stories from Adventure in a Box, consider subscribing to our Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram pages. Thank you for reading!