Learning objectives: fine motor skills, observation skills, vocabulary, word identification, appreciation for God's creation
Prep time: 5 min. (if using downloaded list)
Activity time: 30 min.+
Supplies needed: gift bag, ribbon or string, crayon or marker, computer paper, tape
I must start out by saying that I as much as I would love to, I cannot claim creative credit for this activity. I actually saw these on Pinterest a few weeks ago. That being said, I did design these (format, choose the clip art, etc.) all on my own!
Both of my kids have been dealing with the Hand, Foot & Mouth Virus for almost a week now. They really don't FEEL bad, but they are contagious nonetheless. We have stayed home a lot this week...A LOT. It was gorgeous outside the other day and I really wanted to give the kids something fun to do, so this scavenger hunt activity came to mind. (I figured it was unlikely we would "infect" anyone walking around our block in the wagon!) As I was creating the document to go on the bags, my toddler was sitting on my lap. Charlotte was very excited about the "bird" clip art. So excited, in fact, that every time I have the laptop on now she comes over, looks at the screen and says, "Where bird go?" Trust me, it's adorable! I am continuously amazed at a young child's ability to remember things that seem so "forgettable" to a grown-up.
Making these scavenger hunt bags is fairly easy. Essentially, you glue or tape a pictorial list of items to the outside of a gift bag and tie on something to write with--pen, pencil, marker or crayon. I taped our lists to the outside, so that I could remove them and reuse the bags for other scavenger hunts. I also tied washable markers to our bags (my kids LOVE markers!) and secured them with scotch tape. You could make the photo list/chart yourself in a word processing document or I can e-mail you mine. If you choose to make your own and customize the graphics for your neighborhood, etc. I would recommend inserting a 3 x 4 table and using that to hold your images and labels. Think of a variety of objects to include: things that make noise (a barking dog), things that are small (an insect), things that move (a squirrel or bird), numbers (think license plates or house numbers), things with letters on them (STOP sign)....you get the idea.
When I said we were going on a scavenger hunt, my preschooler was VERY excited. He had lots of questions (always!) about what we were doing with the lists and what the bag was for. I explained that he would use the attached marker to cross off the items that he finds while we are walking and the bag would be to hold any "treasures" that he finds on the way. Jackson carefully looked over the listed items and read them aloud, "Bicycle....fire hydrant....bird....dog..." and then he said, "Mommy, there is just one thing I have to know. How are we gonna fit a dog inside this bag?" Bahahahahaha!! I love my 5 year old--he says the most hysterical things!
Every neighborhood is different and has unique items to search for. I know we have some strawberries painted onto sidewalks on our block (our town has a yearly strawberry festival) and we also have some pine trees with pine cones nearby. I made a unique scavenger hunt list for my area, but also made a more universal one that I can e-mail to you for your neighborhood. I have decided that we can reuse the same list and simply walk a different direction, or drive to another neighborhood and do our "scavenging" there. :)
Jackson insisted that he do our scavenger hunt in his Mario costume and hat. Whatever...probably good to put on an extra layer to prevent the spread of disease! Haha! Charlotte had uncapped her marker and scribbled all over the bag before we even started our walk--which drove her "follow-the-rules" big brother crazy. As we were walking, we never actually saw a dog but heard one behind a fence. Jackson wanted to know if that counted and I agreed that it should. The kids were able to add a pine cone and a pink flower (from our own yard) to their bags. Jackson also found a baseball left behind at a city-owned gazebo a couple blocks from our house, that I let him keep. The highlight of the scavenger hunt, for me, was the bird's nest and blue robin egg we saw on a low branch of an evergreen tree. While my kiddos were busy observing the world around them...I was busy observing (and photographing) them. Their excitement, their smiles and giggles, their childlike curiosity. We never did find a squirrel to finish off our list, but I suppose there's always next time!