I have hundreds of brilliant ideas collected on my pinterest boards of creative things to make and do with my kids to help them learn. Every once in a while, I have a Pinterest Supermom kind of day and we do one of these activities. Those days are some of my favorites as a mom: where I work hard to get the materials and prepare for my kids to have a fun and messy learning experience and we play and laugh, making great memories.
But the reality is, most of these brilliant activities are just not going to happen in my home. I’m surrounded by a never-ending mountain of dirty dishes and laundry. By children who need me to feed them about every half hour. And the chances of me finding the time to actually make that backyard alphabet obstacle course using only pool noodles and duct tape? Pretty unlikely.
I need quick learning activities with my kids that require little to no prep, use materials I already have in my home, and that won’t leave me with rice all over my living room and food coloring smeared on my couch.
Enter this idea for Picture Scavenger Hunts. It hits all of my criteria for the perfect kids activity
One of the most important things we can teach our budding readers is that language is everywhere: words, letters, things to read, surround us. One of the most important things we can teach our budding mathematicians is that math is everywhere: numbers, measurements, decimals, real-life word problems. Children learn best when they have a purpose and context for their learning. This number and letter scavenger hunt shows them that they are surrounded by numbers or letters, giving them a purpose for learning more about these things, and a context through which to understand them.
This activity can happen virtually anywhere. Even in the middle of the woods if you choose to do a science scavenger hunt!
Today Ash and I had to run out for a quick errand to the store. On the way out the door, I handed him my phone (I’ve noticed this is the easiest camera for him to use right now) and told him we were going on a scavenger hunt. I told him it was his job to find as many numbers as he could and take pictures of them! I chased him as he ran out the door and we spent the next half hour hunting down numbers. He even made up his own song entitled "Number Scavenger Hunt" that he sang throughout the car ride and aisles of Rite Aid. I think it's safe to say the activity was a huge success.
I chose to go on a Number Scavenger Hunt with Ash because he's been super interested in numbers lately. You should choose a topic that matches your child's interest or something they are talking about in school. The topics that you could choose are endless, but here are some ideas of scavenger hunt topics you may choose depending on your child's age.
Preschool and Early Elementary:
- Numbers (You can look for numbers in general, like I did above, or you can have a "number of the day" - asking your child to spot as many number 7's, for example, as they can.)
- Letters (Again, you can have a general letter search or a "letter of the day"
- Sight Words - taking pictures of words they can read (stop, store names, etc.)
- Examples of geometry (rays, segments, acute angles, obtuse angles, quadrilaterals, etc.)
- Numbers less than one
- Words with 2 syllables (or any number you choose)
- Parts of speech (You could do a verb hunt, adjective hunt, proper noun hunt, etc.)
For all of the grades, you could have hunts related to areas of study in their classroom or your child's areas of interest. For example:
- Weather (appropriate for all grades, although the observations they make and pictures they take will become more sophisticated with age)
- Living Things
- Examples of ways we use water (perfect to also discuss the drought happening in much of the country and ways your child can help)
If you're having a Pinterest Supermom kind of day, you may even print out these pictures and make a book with your child of what was found on your hunt. You could challenge your child to find every letter of the alphabet and eventually have an ABC book filled with pictures your child has taken of all of the letters of the alphabet. You may make a weather book and fill it with pictures of weather and vocabulary words that match your pictures. You may encourage your older child to use the computer to make a collage of her pictures, or maybe even a digital book.
I'm not having a Pinterest Supermom kind of day so we won't be making a number book with our pictures. But today we had a lot of fun during what would typically have been a pretty boring drugstore run. We talked about the difference between letters and numbers and Ash became a little bit better at photography. I don't have a big crafty mess to clean up. Success all around I would say.