Day 3 of the Outdoors Family Challenge in my house almost ended as soon as it started. When I came in the door, Sprout was playing with his Duplos. I asked him, “Do you want to go outside?” To which he promptly answered, “No.” Fortunately, I wasn’t deterred and he wasn’t being terribly stubborn, so we headed outside five minutes later. The scavenger hunt (PDF) didn’t exactly go as planned, but plans never quite do with three-year-olds.
Once we got outside, the next task was explaining the idea of a scavenger hunt. Sprout’s used to me asking him a million questions, but not the idea of finding an object based on a clue. While a lot of his answers were totally valid, they weren’t things that were actually available at the moment. For example, his response to the prompt “Find something that moves quickly” was “A deer.” Totally valid answer, but not for a scavenger hunt!
I ended up guiding him through the prompts with a lot of help. Scavenger hunts just aren’t as fun if you aren’t looking for things.
Despite my assistance, there were definitely times he came up with original answers all on his own. When I wrote the item “Find something that uses energy from the sun,” I originally intended for kids to find a plant. To my surprise, Sprout responded to that question by saying, “The solar panels on our roof!” A totally valid answer that didn’t even cross my mind. Plus, it was nice to see he was paying attention during the recent solar installation.
Besides the scavenger hunt items, we made a few discoveries that we never would have if we had been inside. A spotted orb weaver sat in her web on the side of the house, in addition to the one that lives outside our kitchen window. “This one is already in the middle of his web,” Sprout noted. Our friends from down the street said hello as they walked to the park. (We’d normally join them, but it was almost time for dinner.) And we took in another multi-hued sunset, painting the sky with pink, purple, blue and yellow.
Sometimes what you find has nothing to do with what you’re looking for.