I’m always looking for new ways to engage with my kids in activities that not only are fun but also educational. As a mom I have learned that those little ears are hearing much more than I think and their little minds are learning even when I don’t think I am getting through. When my oldest daughter was a baby I would sit in the rocking chair every day and we would talk about our eyes, ears, fingers and toes. We would talk about our names, how old she was, colors, letters, etc. She would repeat them back to me and play along so well. I was so excited about everything she was learning.
Then came my son. He would not sit still in the rocking chair long enough for me to even go over facial features let alone anything else. I was certain that he would start preschool knowing absolutely nothing. We worked for months and I eventually gave up. I started a “school time” with my daughter and he would sit beside us but never participate. He did not seem interested at all.
Then one day before he was even 2 years old, we were playing with puzzles. I noticed he started putting together the alphabet puzzle. I inched closer to him and started asking his help. “Do you know what letter this is?” “Where does this go?” To my surprise, he knew every letter, the sound it made and could put it in the correct place. Ahhh!!! He was listening! He was learning just not in the format that I found appropriate.
Now my youngest daughter is on the scene and she is even more so this way. She is all about play. If learning is set in a “school” environment then I can forget it. But if we are playing, I can sneak in the educational components. She plays along learning the things I find important for her to know. Everyone is happy.
I am going to share with you today one of the ways I incorporate learning, play and exercise into one fun activity. I call it the ABC Scavenger Hunt. The original “game” takes some time but I use variations to fit my schedule at the time. I’ll discuss a few of those at the end. I start out by singing the ABC’s and going over the sound each letter makes.
The premise of this game is to find things outside that begin with each letter of the alphabet. Instead of giving them a specific list of things to find I like for them to create their own list. It stretches the imagination and gives my older kids the chance to think through the spelling of words to determine what letter the object begins with. I’m going to give you some examples but I would encourage you to start without suggestions to see what your kids can find on their own.
If I know we can’t find something outside that begins with a specific letter, for example the letter X, then I will place an alphabet card outside or a toy that begins with X. I’ll tell them ahead of time so they know something is hidden in the yard for that specific letter. I also let them use people as well. They like to take a picture of themselves when they reach the letter their name starts with.
One fun idea is to give them each a disposable camera to take a picture of their object. That adds a little more excitement for them. They can bring the item to you, take you to see the item or write it down if they are old enough. The exercise portion of this activity is the walking/running they will do trying to find the objects as fast as they can. Everything turns into a race in this family.
So here are some of our examples:
A- Acorn, Ant
B- Bug, Bird, Butterfly
C- Cat, Cloud, Caterpillar
D- Dog, Door, Dirt
E- Evergreen tree, Earthworm
F- Frog, Fish, Flower, Fence
G- Grass, Girl
H- House, Hose
I- Ice, Ivy
J- Jacket, Jet
K- Kids, Kite
L- Leaf, Light post, Lawn Mower
M- Mud, Maple Tree,
N- Nest, Nut
O- Oak Tree
P- Play set, People
Q- Quarter (If they find it they get to keep it)
R- Roof, Road, Rope
S- Sun, Slide, Swing
T- Tree, Truck
V- Violet, (Time for an alphabet card)
W- Water, Weed, Wasp
X- Alphabet Card or Toy
Y- Yard, Yellow Jacket
Z- Zipper, Zebra toy
Each time they find an object, we talk about the letter it begins with and the sound it makes. Now that my oldest is 7 we will start spelling it as well. Obviously, they will need your help so this is very much an interactive activity.
If we don’t have a lot of time we play this game without using every letter of the alphabet. We play this on long car trips using letters we see on signs or license plates. Name things at the park or zoo. You can also print off your own scavenger hunt listing a particular object you want them to find. This seems to make it go a little faster as well. You can also play this inside but it is much more fun and challenging outdoors.
So next time you are the store pick up a few disposable cameras and you’ll be ready for your own ABC scavenger hunt. Do you have your own variation of this game? If so, please share!