Once the weather gets warm, your children will be begging to go outside. Turn their play time into learning time with this Backyard Treasure Hunt.
Instead of just sending your child outside to play, use your imagination and make his playtime more exciting. Plan ahead before you start, and hide a box full of treasures for him to hunt for while he is outside. Also, draw a map of your yard using lines and arrows pointing to certain gardens, play equipment, picnic tables, grills, bushes, trees and other landmarks in your yard. Be sure the map is simple enough for your child to understand what the drawings mean.
Once you are ready, sit down with him, and tell a story about the people who used to live in your house before you moved in. If you live in a brand new home, go way back and make up a story about natives who inhabited the land before it was used for modern housing. Describe the former occupants and tell your child that you know they hid a treasure somewhere around your house. Make up a tale of where they got their treasure, why they had to hide it and how they expected to remember where it was. Tell him you found a map that shows where the treasure is hidden. Show him the map and go through it using both words and pictures (help him think through which parts of the yard to search) and then let him go on his own (with you watching, of course).
Be available to help him puzzle through the next place to look if he comes to ask for help. This activity will help him use his imagination while he is exercising his body and he will be very excited when he finally finds the Backyard Treasure. Thinking before acting and following the pictorial directions on the map are good readiness skills young children need to practice before they go to Kindergarten. This activity provides your child with a fun and rewarding way to do this.
- A small box that can easily be hidden
- Play money
- Small pieces of cheap kid’s jewelry
- String or tape
- Fill the box with the treasure.
- Tape or tie it shut so the treasure won’t spill out.
- Draw a map of your yard with trees, gardens, bushes, play equipment, etc.
- With lines and arrows draw directions that will lead to the treasure.
- Put an X on the spot where the treasure is hidden.
- While your child is busy doing something else hide the treasure in your yard.
- Tell your preschooler the story of the people who used to live in your house. If he wants to add some made up things about them, encourage him to do so.
- Show him the map and discuss ways he might be able to find the treasure if he follows the lines and arrows.
- Let him go look as long as he wants to. Help him if he needs you to.
- When he has successfully found the treasure help him open it and examine the contents. Tell him the treasure is now his, as the folks who hid it can no longer be found.