This past weekend we had our first taste of warm weather after weeks of freezing temperatures and snow. It was glorious! Hello Spring...where have you been all my life? Ironically, Ryan and I were dying to get the kids out of the house and play, while all Mac wanted to do was stay in the basement and play basketball and sticker book. Poor child has been brainwashed by us over the last couple months to want to be inside. But after much coaxing and bribing, I finally convinced Mac that it would be fun to go outside and have a neighborhood scavenger hunt.
Last summer before Mim was born, I made this printable scavenger hunt to help entertain Mac and get him out of the house while the baby and I were stuck inside. I found cute pictures of all kinds of things I knew he could find in our neighborhood (just on our street) and laid them out in an easy to identify format for a toddler. I gave him a bucket (to collect anything he wanted to keep) and a marker to cross off all the things he finds, to give him a sense of accomplishment (because we all love crossing items off our list, right?). He played this a few times with my mom and our nanny over the summer and fall and loved it, but I never had a chance to play with him or take any photos. So while Mim was napping on Saturday, out we went!
The items on our scavenger hunt are all things a toddler or preschooler should be able to find in any suburban midwest neighborhood or park (with a little help from an adult, of course). If you're in a big city, the country, the desert or the beach, these might not all be as easy to find. Although I'm sure you could come up with other items to substitute out and modify this concept for your particular location.
There are 48 items on the list, but Mac's never really had the time (or attention span) to find them all. Sometimes he'll just try to find the things on one page. Sometimes he only finds a few items on each page. Sometimes he gets completely distracted and ends up doing something else entirely. And that's fine too! This is just a starting point to get him outside and exploring.
Obviously, some of the items on our list are harder to find during cold weather than they will be this summer. We didn't find any dandelions or pink flowers. We didn't see any butterflies or grasshoppers. But that really didn't seem to bother Mac at all. It's more about the exploring and the adventure of the hunt that makes it fun. What surprised me most was that some of the items on the scavenger hunt that were easy to find were less fun for him. He had no problem finding rocks or sticks or leaves, so that wasn't as exciting as it was to find something that we had to really look/hunt for. He spent a lot of time digging in the flower bed looking for a roly poly (we never found one). We sat at the end of our street for a good 10 minutes watching cars drive by and waiting for a red truck (we never saw one). This showed incredible patience and determination from him that completely impressed me. Had we done this last summer, I think the results would have been much different (more interested in the instant gratification of finding the easy things), which makes this a great activity for kids of all ages and one that can played for years.
Of course, his attention span is still pretty short so we had to throw in some other fun activities like follow the leader and red light/green light as we played. We also did lots of jumping and chasing and snowball throwing, which makes for a pretty great day in our book. I definitely didn't want this to be all work. But I think he had fun - he asked me that night when we could do it again. Anytime, kiddo!
Have you ever done a Scavenger Hunt with your kids?