The Gerber Life Parenting Blog

Encourage Reading with a “Words” Scavenger Hunt

March 4, 2015

Scavenger HuntWhen a child first learns to read, it’s helpful to give him or her plenty of opportunities to practice with you, such as by sounding out the words on the back of a cereal box, reading road signs or voicing recipe instructions while making dinner or baking a cake.

To help make reading fun for your child, a good idea is to create games that help bolster the reading skills you’re trying to reinforce. One great game is the scavenger hunt because it can strengthen reading, problem solving, creativity and imagination, among other qualities.

Here’s how to plan a play-at-home scavenger hunt for kids that’s entertaining while requiring your child to flex his or her reading muscles:

Create a theme for the scavenger hunt.

  • Select an indoor or outdoor area of your home for a scavenger hunt.
  • Give the hunt a theme, such as a kitchen-inspired, toy-inspired, or nature-inspired.
  • Match the instructions for the hunt to the theme. For example, for an orange-inspired hunt, focus on color instead of the location.
  • Concentrate on a particular kind of thing to search for, such as something that’s light or heavy, soft or hard, orange or purple.

Use age-appropriate words.

Carefully select the words you’ll use for the scavenger hunt instructions. For example, will “Find a red kitchen utensil” be age-appropriate? Think about vocabulary and concepts that will challenge your child and make the game fun, not frustrating.

Consider writing in rhymes or riddles.

Many scavenger hunts increase in difficulty and excitement as they progress. If you want to make your scavenger hunt a bit of a brain teaser, write the clues as riddles or in rhyme or poetic meter, so that your child can practice reading and problem-solving. If possible, create a connection between each item that needs to be found, in order to help your child build upon each search for solving the next clue. You also may wish to include a time limit for finding each item, with prizes awarded to whichever child solves the most clues.

Reward with treats and surprises.

Think of a fun conclusion for your hunt, such as having the final clue lead to a picnic lunch, or to a stack of new books that your child has won. Perhaps the answer to your final clue could be an activity you’ve planned for the afternoon, such as an outing to the library or zoo, or a friend’s house for a play date. You don’t need to have an elaborate “reward.”

Ready to get started? Download our instructions for planning a scavenger hunt for kids and then let the game begin!

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