It always helps to have something fun planned. Anyone who lives or works with kids can attest to this, for sure. I love devising a plan with my kids and then talking about it as we get closer to the event or activity. Since the weather is warming up, take advantage of the opportunity to be outside- before it heats up TOO much! This week, we’ll explore how to plan and execute a scavenger hunt with your family. Hey, just in time for National Scavenger Hunt Day! Yup, that’s a thing. Let’s dive in.
Is it summer yet?
Unfortunately, not quite yet. Boo. I know. My school system has 3 weeks remaining. THREE. WEEKS. It is soon, but it also feels like an eternity away. All of us are feeling the burn, teachers for sure, but also parents, caretakers, everyone! For those of us who are parents and teachers, thinking about the summer isn’t always the break we need it to be. I know I was feeling stressed thinking about what to do with all the unstructured time I’ll have along with the kids and the new puppy (read up on last week’s blog for puppy cuteness). In the coming weeks, we will be fleshing out some summer activities for your families, but first, let’s go on a scavenger hunt!
National Scavenger Hunt Day
I know we’re a little past the official date, as National Scavenger Hunt Day is observed on May 24 here in the US. That being said, having a festive hunt planned for the long holiday weekend is something on my list! I don’t know about you, but trying to go on a scavenger hunt on a Tuesday after school sounds like pure madness. MADNESS! So the weekend it is.
I can’t remember the first time I did a scavenger hunt, but I recall being pretty young and thinking it was super cool. Though there is some debate surrounding the origin of scavenger hunts, it gained popularity during the early 1930s, when hostess with the mostest, Elsa Maxwell popularized the game during some of her lavish parties. Residing in NYC, Maxwell was well positioned with the theater and society crowds. Her parties had her guests roaming around the city collecting pieces to the puzzles! I can imagine NYC partiers in the 1930s wandering around the city on a scavenger hunt with riddles to solve and clues to collect.
I have always been really fascinated about the brain. I get migraines and the research on migraines and migraine treatment is really complex. Certain things are triggers for me, but not for others. Some treatments and medications are effective, while others are not. Environment plays a huge role in migraine appearance as well. Apparently, if I moved from Maryland to somewhere hot and dry like Nevada, I might live a migraine- free life due to the consistency of the climate and lack of humidity/ changing barometric pressure. Astounding.
Just how the brain responds, reacts and functions for each individual is pretty amazing to me. We all experience and process things so differently. When we consider the group work involved in solving the riddles and puzzles of a scavenger hunt, the possibilities are limitless! I love thinking about how all the different ways my kids might interpret directions that would lead them to forming different conclusions.
Many of us are familiar with research surrounding the benefits of puzzles for brain development. I like this 2019 article from The Critically Thinking Child which references National Puzzle Day which is celebrated in January! Mostly, it supports the idea that riddles and critical thinking encourage brain development through healthy thinking activities.
How to celebrate National Scavenger Hunt Day
There are lots of ways to have a fun scavenger hunt with your family or students. The cool thing is that you can make your hunt whatever you want it to be! It can be inside, virtual or clomping around in the woods. For example, as a school librarian, I’ve had students visit the library and search for certain books, genres and library items. I also have students work on searching for things digitally using the catalog, databases and other online resources.
Since summer is coming up and everyone wants to be getting outside, we have this summer scavenger hunt for you to print out and take along on your walks or hikes. I love this one because it is simple and almost all the items can be found in your neighborhoods! This one is geared more towards our little guys. There are a few ways your can do it- check off and color the items you find. My son had the idea to do the same hunt at different times in the summer and as an experiment, examine the differences of things we find each time. His hypothesis is that some things might only be visible at certain times of the summer and he wants to scientifically explore this. I thought that was a pretty cool idea on his part.
Make your own hunt
For the older kiddos or the families who want a bit more of a challenge, I challenge YOU to make your own scavenger hunt! Scavenger hunts are basically treasure hunts, which is always exciting. Geocaching has gained popularity in recent years. Admittedly, I don’t have much experience with it so that’s a blog for another day. Here are some tips for getting started and supplies you’ll need for your scavenger hunt.
- Establish a theme. Ex, Nature, around the house, on a car ride, etc.
- Make your plan. Will you be inside or outside? Near or far from home?
- Map it out! Draw a map to guide you. Include colors, directions, landmarks, etc!
- Gather and organize your supplies. Depending on where you’re going, what you’ll need will vary of course. Just be sure to be prepared. (Water, sunscreen, pen/ pencil, compass, etc.)
- Get going! It’s time to explore.
Summer fun for everyone
Some fun ideas for the whole family can be found here in a blog post by MTT’s Tiffany. We have a summer fun calendar that is amazing for your whole family. Check out her post here to see what you can plan out and achieve with your family this summer. While it isn’t quite a scavenger hunt, it is and can be, in a sense!
Tiffany provides directions for how to order a large size print (recommended) of the calendar through Staples website or an option to print it at home.
Whatever you choose to do this weekend and this summer, just make sure to have fun with your fam!
Courtney is an MTT tutor, academic coach, and blog contributor for MTTES. If you check out our FB and Instagram pages, you might see her giving a storytime with her son Jack through the company’s Facebook Live service. Courtney’s love of the English language, learning, and creative writing inspired her to contribute relevant content to teachers, tutors, parents, and homeschoolers seeking support across an array of trending topics. She and her teacher husband have two small children and reside in Baltimore, MD with their dog Lottie May.