Sunday, March 25, 2012

When literacy and play meet

We've recently created a new playground game that combines education, literacy, memory building, and most of all - fun!  I took our ABC bathtub letters to the playground with us and an alphabet scavenger hunt was born.  I scattered the alphabet letters all over the playground and my son had to hunt around the playground to find them in order.  It tested his knowledge of his ABCs as he had to remember which letter came next, as well as challenged his memory when he had to remember where he saw the letter G for example.  We were at a big playground that had four structures with slides and I scattered those letters everywhere!  It took a good hour to find them all and it even tested my memory.  I was running all over the place trying to help my son find the next letter.

It was the perfect activity for a cold Spring day because typically my three year old would have wandered around for ten minutes and then been done.  He would have complained about snow on his mittens (it had just snowed overnight) and wouldn't have been eager to slide down the snow covered slides.  When you are on a mission however to find the next letter of the alphabet, you have to go down that slide, cross the slippery bridge, and climb up a ladder for the twentieth time, in order to continue the quest. In the hour we were outside playing, my son never once complained that he was cold and never lost focus on the game for even a minute.

My son is in love with his ABCs and plays with alphabet puzzles all day long.  This was the perfect game for him.  I can see this game growing in our family.  We will play it in the backyard and we will play it when we go for walks.  With a group of people, it would be easy to have one person running slightly ahead to hide letters that the kids would have to find.  It would motivate them to keep walking (always a challenge with toddlers who tire and start whining after ten minutes).  We have a nice walking loop around our house so I can even see our family having an ABC walk after dinner if one of us ran out and hid the letters before we went out as a family.

The next version of this game I want to try is with counting.  We have foam letters for bath play as well and a 123 scavenger hunt would be equally fun.  The game could be played with shapes or colours as well; find the circle, or find something yellow.

The scavenger hunt would be a lot of fun with a group of children because there would be competition to see who could find a circle first, the letter A first, or find something yellow...
I imagine it would also be easier for younger children if they had older kids playing with them and helping them out.

The photos were all taken today during our second ABC scavenger hunt.   Honestly, it was just too cold the first time to be taking photos.  We also played our game at a smaller park and it was MUCH easier.  I'd suggest starting small with one play structure for starters.  Four was a little crazy.  The backyard would be even easier. 

1 comment:

  1. Good game Tanya, I've done a similar scavenger hunt at our little playground with a couple of toys, but I want to try the numbers one next!