A pictorial scavenger hunt for happier walks

Guest post by Molly Westerman
Photo by Molly. Download the full size image here!

I present: evidence that I truly cannot draw! Also that I have no shame: My partner joked that I should offer a reward to anyone who can correctly identify all the items on this list. I told him to draw his own, then, which more or less shut him up.

My four-year-old Noah, a more forgiving art critic, loved taking this scavenger hunt (folded in half “for privacy”) and an IKEA pencil on walks around our neighborhood. His sense of purpose and pleasure are the point of this exercise, after all. You see, Noah had been getting fussy sometimes during our family walks, especially if he wasn’t walking our dog. It took a while, but finally it occurred to me that he’s sometimes excluded from our conversations.

The adults are just so just much taller than him: it’s hard to hear each other if it’s noisy outside. And during busy periods, we tend to start planning out the week or taking care of other deeply boring grown-up business on long walks, since we sometimes have very little other talking time together. He was therefore, quite reasonably, getting bored and probably a little lonely.

The scavenger hunt is something he can carry and do. (The amusingly bad drawings are because he couldn’t read yet when I made it up, as well as because no one in our house can draw for shit.) It’s also something we all do together, watching out for the stuff on the list and very seriously determining whether various sightings “count.” I scanned it because he was worried about it getting rained on or otherwise messed up, and then I figured, hey, why not post it online so everyone can enjoy this excellent idea?

How do you make family outings and walks even more fun for your young children?

Comments on A pictorial scavenger hunt for happier walks

  1. This is awesome! Great for pre-readers and those with communication disorders. And I saw pshaw to the idea that you can’t draw. I was able to figure out the different things you were referencing, and I think your style is quirky cool.

  2. Downloadable/ printable version of your drawing? (Flickr?) Your list would work perfectly in my neighborhood, I wouldn’t change a thing.

  3. I did a very similar thing for the girl I nanny, back in the fall. She’s an emerging reader, so my scavenger hunt included words with the pictures in the hopes she’d sound them out (she didn’t). Here it is.

    My scavenger hunt was all nature/fall themed, and all of the small items she insisted on collecting and bringing home, then immediately wanted to draw a scavenger hunt for ME to fill out. Considering I usually have to practically force her into getting off the couch, this was a very successful outdoor activity!

  4. My 2.5 year old daughter is getting tired of sitting in the stroller on dog walks. So, I gave her a water gun the other day and it kept her very entertained the whole time! Thankfully, the dog doesn’t mind a squirt now and then.
    I love this idea for when she is a little older!

  5. OK, we did a variation of this the other day, and it was awesome! It made our walk so much fun! And I am so glad I found your blog too!

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