The Modern Age Entertainment Dilemma

Most parents have trouble finding fun activities for kids to do when they’re not busy with TV or computers or gaming systems. Our children have become so attached to these devices they don’t know what to do with themselves when they’re not holding one. We don’t want to just sit our kids in front of the TV, but sometimes we have things we need to do as well. And unfortunately, the TV is a babysitter of sorts, even if it’s not a good one.

Such is every parent’s dilemma…how to entertain a child of the modern age. Couple that with increasing diagnoses of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), and some parents find themselves spending most of their “free time” entertaining their children. I am one of those parents.

Rainy Day, Go Away

My daughter is adorable at age 5 (sorry, it’s 5 and a half, according to her), but if she can’t goScavenger Hunt ListCredit: TerraTrade Studios outside to play every day, she gets very fidgety. I was a park naturalist for years, and most of the time when I encountered kids like my daughter, I never knew what went on behind the scenes (at home, etc.) because they were always so engaged in the programs I presented, the trails we hiked, or the tours we took. Why? Because nature and outdoor play are perfect “babysitters” as well. So, at our house when a rainy Saturday rolls around and the park is out of the question, we have to come up with other ways to entertain my squirmy daughter.

I’m not sure where I heard this idea initially, but it has morphed into something entirely unique at this point. One afternoon, I handed my daughter a piece of paper with a list of 10 items.

I told her to grab her “camera” (it’s an old iPhone), find the objects on the list, and photographScavenger Hunt DragonCredit: TerraTrade Studios them. She loved it! Unfortunately, it only took her about 20 minutes…sigh.

Now what to do? Knowing how much my daughter loves art class, I came up with a different approach. I gave her a new list of items and told her to take a notebook and pencil with her on her hunt. I then instructed her to draw each item she found and return her artwork to me. I admit, I also bribed her with a “treasure” once she finished the hunt, but it was worth it.

Scavenger Hunt Owl BookCredit: TerraTrade StudiosAn hour later, not only had I managed to get some housework done, but she was very excited to show me all her drawings. We gently taped them to the “art wall” in the living room for the entire family to enjoy.

More Fun with Scavenger Hunts

But the fun doesn’t end there! Scavenger hunt idea #3: modeling clay! We haven’t tried this one yet (I’m saving it for a rainy Saturday or Sunday), but I’ll update this article when we do, so check back in a couple weeks for the results. My idea is to give her a new list of simple items, a few bags of air dry clay, some simple clay tools (nothing sharp or pointy), and an old cookie sheet to use as a portable work surface. Her goal will be to model each item, and if she’s really into the project, I’ll have her paint them when she’s done.

Given my love of polymer clay and her constant curiosity when I’m working, it’s my hope that she really enjoys this hunt! Stay tuned…

Update as Promised

Success! My daughter loved the clay scavenger hunt. We used polymer clay rather than air dry clay, as I've recently discovered my favorite manufacturer has created a softer clay. I wanted to see how well it was received by a child...would it be less painful on the hands during the conditioning process? Not only did she enjoy the hunt itself, but the clay modeling continued after she was finished. She sat happily at her little table and created a miniature table with 3 chairs, 2 snakes (who sat in the chairs, of course), a bird bath (with a tiny little bird), and balls for the snakes to enjoy. I was amazed at how much fun she had over the next few nights.

After a recent long car ride to see the grandparents, I designed an additional scavenger hunt that I thought you might find interesting as well. Grab 2 or 3 of your child's favorite coloring books and skim through them before you pack up the car. Jot down several items pictured in the books and give the list to your child once you are underway. Ask him/her to look for the items on the list and color them as he/she finds each one. Simple, but effective. Every time my daughter found an object, she would shout, "Ha! Found it, Mommy!" She enjoyed showing me each item (in the rear view mirror) after she had colored it.

I hope you find these scavenger hunt ideas useful and entertaining for you and your family. I've always loved scavenger hunts, and now I'm happy to pass them on to my children and watch as they enjoy finding all those hidden objects as well. I am a tremendous fan of any activity that brings my family together, such as travel, gardening, visits to a local park, or trips to the zoo. So get out there and experience all the excitement and wonder of discovery with your children! It will enrich your life and theirs. Enjoy!