I am a genius.

The Kid’s spending the afternoon with some of her favourite people while I rest and recouperate from a minor cold. But after a short nap, I was filled with energy and had a brilliant idea for a game to play with her when she gets home: A Treasure Hunt!

Yesterday was Good Friday, and after the church service some friends came back to our place for a bring-and-share lunch and one of my famous Easter egg hunts. It was the perfect day to run around the garden finding semi-melted chocolate. Today, however, is absolutely miserable weather-wise, and the Hubband is working, and I woke up with a cold. This means only one thing: foist the Kid off on some friends so I can nap. But what to do when they bring her back? Ah yes, Indoor Activities. Preferably: Indoor Activities During Which I Can Sit on The Couch.

Hence: my ad hoc Toddler Treasure Hunt.

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Here’s what you need:
Your kid’s toys;
Paper;
Camera/camera-phone;
Printer;
Scissors.
Note: if you have kids who can read, you can just write the name of their toy on pieces of paper instead of taking photos and printing them.

And here’s what I did:
First I gathered up twelve of her toys – half of them are favourites, the other half are ones she hasn’t played with in ages.
Then I took photos of each of them, and printed them on the back of used paper – no point making this too fancy, she’s only a year and a half, she doesn’t mind.
I cut out each of the photos and put them in a pile on the table next to all the toys.
I put the first photo aside and picked up the toy that was in that photo (a wooden caterpillar), then I hid that with the next photo (of her hippo book) in a place that would be visible to the kid – I didn’t want to make it so hard that she would lose interest, but you can tailor it to the ability of your child.

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Notice how I cleverly disguised the caterpillar toy to blend into the photo-frame?

I made sure I remembered what toy was in the photo I hid (the hippo book) and hid that one next along with the next photo.

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The hippo book is Hippos Go Berserk by Sandra Boynton; I recommend it.

I hid each toy somewhere she could see from the place the previous toy was hidden.
The second-to-last was a group of what we call aliens (they’re actually fancy eraser-sharpener things). I hid these inside a zip-up bag which I placed in her toy basket. You may think that’s a bit mean, so I feel I should explain that the zip-up bag is actually referred to as her “alien bag.” I know she’ll have no real difficulty in finding them. But I also cleverly hid the last photo, folded up, inside one of her ‘aliens’ which gives her a nice little challenge.*

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I folded quite a few of the photo clues in different ways, to help her practice her fine motor skills.

*She found it first time…so much for that “challenge.”

The last toy was the lid of one of her ‘aliens’ which I filled with raisins and hid in the bathroom. That may seem weird to you, but it’s where she left it last night before bath-time, so I’m hoping to see whether she’ll remember that or not…

Here are all the photo clues:

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Notice the one lidless ‘alien’?
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I hid the bouncy ball inside the jar just to make it more visually interesting and give her a surprise. The weird pink thing is the ‘alien’ lid.

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So how did it go? Brilliantly.

It kept the Kid and the Husband entertained for 15 minutes, and then she played with all the toys for a further 15. And these weren’t new toys, they were just the same old toys that somehow gained an air of newness merely from being in unexpected places.

Things that went well:
1) Folding the photos in different ways slowed the game down a little and gave a bit of a challenge to her fine motor skills.
2) We encouraged her to look around her, rather than just assume the toy was in its usual place, which was good for her observation.
3) When faced with the photo of her pink ‘alien’ lid, she thought for a moment, looked around, and then walked to the bathroom. She obviously remembered where she had left it, but was beginning to suspect that her toys can move around independently…
4) Although the photos were quickly printed on cheap paper, we can reuse them a few times (probably every week) – that’s why I only hid toys that she owned, rather than library books we’d have to return etc. If you’re one of those enthusiastic laminators, you could laminate your photos. If you really wanted to.

Things that didn’t go well:
1) Nothing!

Do comment and let me know if you try this out at home. I’d love to know how it goes and if your kids enjoy it.

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3 thoughts on “Treasure Hunt for Toddlers

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