One thing parents have learned during there pandemic – it’s easy for screen time to get out of control and once it is, it’s a battle to rein it in. We asked for suggestions of things that have worked to lure kids outside and one parents offered up over and over again was a good ol’ scavenger hunt. Want to give it a try? Here’s how to get started.
Make A List
Step one is to create a list of items for kids to find around the neighborhood, in the house or in the backyard. Googling a phrase such as, “neighborhood scavenger hunt,” will bring up lots of pre-made lists for all ages that you can play around with a bit if needed. Some, for small children who can’t yet read, include pictures (a bird, a stoplight, bugs, a bicycle). Ones for older kids get a little more detailed (a red door, an American flag, a green car). Of course you can make your own list or you can have the kids get involved from the beginning and create the list themselves. Below are examples from a list a few kids made for themselves, by themselves. This one is great because it they chose to include exercise.
- A Statue
- A Wind Chime
- Make Up A :30 song
- An Address With Two 9’s
- Do 15 pushups in a row (If not possible 50 jumping jacks)
- A Bike
- A Small Dog
- A Red Piece Of Furniture
Keep A Record Of What You Find
Step two is having the kids head out while keeping track of what they find. One way is to simply arm them with a pen and have them check off items as they go. Another fun way is to let them document their hunt with a camera. This can be accomplished with an i-phone, i-pad or a Polaroid camera. As far as cameras go, one popular choice is the Fujifilm Istamax Mini ($60-$70) which is easy to use, tough to break and provides instant satisfaction with its small polaroid pics. The only downside is the film, which kids tend to go through at record speeds. A large pack including 60 pics will run you about $35.00 target.
Another is myFirst Camera Insta 2 which prints on paper so the photos are instant and you don’t stress when your kids “waste” shots. At $99 it costs a bit more than the other but it comes with 3 rolls of paper, each capable of printing up to 80 sheets. Kids can add a custom frame, print pics on sticker paper (also included) and even take videos. The downside is that the pics are black and white, but kids we spoke with didn’t seem to mind.
If your kids have a step counter and enjoy tracking their progress, have them bring it along as well. It is fun to see how many steps they get while exploring and also encourages them to try and beat their record on the next hunt.
For many, the scavenger hunt ends there. Kids can work alone or together and simply enjoy the process. For those who need an extra push, kids told us that adding in an incentive never hurts. ie: Find all of your items or spend this amount of time searching and you earn a small prize. That could be anything from a little extra I-pad time to a special dessert. Parents can also hide a prize with the last item on the list. For example, maybe the last item is a toaster and next to your toaster is a piece of candy to signal the end of the game.
Once children engage, chances are they won’t be counting down the minutes… they’ll be having so much fun they’ll forget all about everything else and just get lost in play.
Elise began her career as a Writer/Anchor/Reporter at CNN headquarters in Atlanta, GA. She also served as Supervising Producer at E! Networks and most recently, has been busy freelance producing and writing for numerous magazines and blogs.