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This is a great activity for those rainy days when everyone has a surfeit of excess unexpended energy. The idea is to leave a series of connected clues from one place to another, but inside the house whilst the weather makes ‘outdoors’ impracticable.
1. First, select your child’s favourite, or second favourite toy and hide it. The second favourite is ideal for the child that has strong objections to their first favourite being held captive. The idea is to ensure motivation but not mental torture and angst from kidnapping. The advantage of using a toy that they already prefer rather than something new, is that quite often the ‘new’ is not attractive nor motivating, or if it is initially attractive and motivating whilst it is unknown, once it is found, it will be a big disappointment and not match their expectations resulting in stressful meltdowns. This is a game that we want to be successful for everyone. If their first experience is fun then we are more likely to be able to repeat it.
2. Take a different coloured sheet of paper for each participating child.
3. Walk from room to room with a clip board and pencil.
4. Identify items that each particular child is likely to latch onto, for instance our six foot wooden toy trunk is more or less invisible to the boys but the jagged two in crack in the wall, just above the baseboard in the corner of the room behind the sofa, is of infinite interest.
6. Determine your start point, preferably somewhere open and central.
7. Ensure that all children go to their first personal clue in opposite directions to avoid trampling.
8. The first clue must be obvious to ensure that inertia is overcome and that they will start to move in the general direction of the first clue.
9. Write the clue or draw an icon, tear off the strip of paper and tape it to the floor at the start point.
10. Although my children love numbers, for this particular game I don’t number the clues. This way they are unaware of the fact that one child has 40 clues, another has 15 and the last has only six, to take account of their differing skills and abilities.
Pitfalls to avoid
11. Accidentally coming across the wrong clue out of sequence.
12. Using ‘blind spot’ words. E.g. although my children know the names for different rooms in theory, they’re not a high priority and are there are difficult to recall on spec. Far better to use an icon to indicate the correct room, such as a toilet for the bathroom or a table for the dining room or a couch for the sitting room.
13. Whatever number of clues you determine is appropriate for your children, for their first attempt, halve that number, to give them a better chance of success.