This is a guest post by Beth Moody, from A Warm Hearth. We are not related, but isn’t that cool that we have the same last name?
I grew up in a different time. Summer mornings began with Mom sweeping us outside to play all day. Play we did, sometimes together, sometimes by our lonesome. We wandered through the woods, down the hill through the field that turned into a swamp, then we followed the stream (ok, we didn’t follow it, we waded in it). Gosh, I saw the most amazing things. All kinds of birds, I watched the muskrats build their winter home, I made friends with a young deer, a crawdad bit my toe, and, and, and every day was an adventure. Times are different now; most places Moms can’t open their doors and say go play and don’t come back ‘til dinner. I think that kids have lost the spirit of exploration and adventure outside of an x-box. So, a couple of years ago I began to do scavenger hunts. A scavenger hunt can be just the ticket to get the kids out side, away from whatever game is on whatever screen, and finding the adventure in the garden.
A scavenger hunt can be designed to be elaborate or simple. It can be designed to teach or play. For example, if you want to teach the kids what the each plant looks like before it bears fruit, your scavenger hunt can be the find the plant that matches the leaves in a young shoot. For a toddler you can use it to find colors. Make a page of six squares and color a circle in the corner and wander through the garden looking for anything that matches the color. It can be constructed to find bugs. Find a lady bug, find an aphid, find an ant, and find a wolf spider. Ok, my grands have a grandmother who likes bugs and snakes. My grandsons like those hunts.
They might be very elaborate. One year, just before a much anticipated pirate movie came out, I organized a Treasure Hunt. Grandpa and I went to our local park armed with chocolate coins, plastic bones, and assorted paraphernalia and then buried them. The scavenger list was on tea stained paper that we had burned the edges of… so it had that old look about it. The directions told the kids to look for certain landmarks and that there would be treasure buried there: the big oak tree by a fire pit, the right front leg of a bench that looked over the river, the fireplace inside a lean-to. Arrggh, me maties, we findin a lot of bounty that day! It ended with a trip to dairy queen with our eye-patches and bandannas.
While trying to teach my granddaughter wild flowers, I gave her a bracelet of masking tape, sticky side out. Every time she found one on the list (this time the list was made up of pictures) she’s stick it on her bracelet. In the end, dead flowers encircled her wrist but one would have thought it was made of diamonds.
Outside scavenger hunts can take a bit of pre-planning but it’s worth every moment, and they are free!