Winter Treasure Hunts

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It can be tough to motivate kids to get outside on cold days (and let’s be honest, to motivate ourselves as grown-ups, too). But even the simplest suggestion of a treasure hunt can serve as enticement! To wit, Veronika and I did two quick hunts today, the first for nature treasures and the second for toys.

For the first, I simply set her the task of finding various nature items around the yard, ones I knew she could spot easily. Her first task was to spot the bright pop of red berries.

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Next up was to find a prickly pine cone! Add anything to the list that your child can find easily in winter. If your kids are older, you can make a scavenger hunt sheet or index cards with images of each item to find.

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For the second “hunt”, I hid a few of her favorite toys (like little bunny figures) around the yard, then told her that the bunnies might be hiding. Could she find them? She was so surprised and delighted when she spotted them!

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We weren’t outside for long, but these two little hunts helped us get a bit of fresh air!

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Rainbow Toy Scavenger Hunt

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Here’s a great color lesson for toddlers that’s interactive and hands-on!

To start, I drew a rainbow with markers on the biggest piece of paper available, in this case an old paper grocery bag that I opened up to lie flat. Ideally I would have made the rainbow even bigger on poster board or butcher paper, but the grocery bag worked in a pinch. This was a fun chance for a little art side-by-side, since Veronika wanted to color, too.

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Once the rainbow was complete, it was time to make it 3-D! I curated this activity slightly for Veronika since she’s so young, gathering a variety of toys in easy-to-spot solid colors, and placing them in piles near the rainbow. These included blocks, toy cars, dominoes, plastics fruits and veggies, and bean bags.

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Now I asked Veronika to help me fill in the rainbow! She quite quickly grasped the idea, reaching to put items on the line of the same color. Our bumpy rainbow quickly took shape.

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Even better, the completed rainbow is likely to invite your child to play solo for some time after, since all those toys are now right at hand!

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Older toddlers and preschoolers can make this more of a true hunt, and trot all about the house looking for one color at a time before lining up the items they’ve found on the rainbow lines. But even this sit-down “hunt” was great for my two year old!

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2 Ingredient Homemade Snowballs

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There’s no need to wait for the next snowfall before your kids have a good old-fashioned snowball fight. Make your own snowballs at home with just two ingredients in this hands-on activity!

To make the snowballs, you’ll simply need 1 (16-ounce) box cornstarch and 1 (7-ounce) can shaving cream. Combine these two ingredients in a craft bin and stir.

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I wish I had photos from the exuberant mixing session that followed. This is messy toddler play at its best, and Veronika was up to her elbows (literally!) in the mixture. Unfortunately, I was up to my elbows in it, too, so couldn’t grab my camera in the moment.

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Once the mixture comes together, it is shockingly not messy at all, but rather squeezes together into perfect “snowballs”. We headed outside with our ammo!

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Older kids will no doubt want to have a real battle. In that case, you’ll probably want to make a double batch, and then each team can make a fort and pelt away. The snowballs are so soft that there’s no need to worry about anyone getting hurt.

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For toddlers, the delight is more sensory. Veronika loved the way she could hold one of the soft snowballs carefully in two hands. But the second she tossed it to the ground, it splattered into crumbles.

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She loved doing this off our patio, or even sending snowballs down her plastic slide.

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Once everything was in crumbs, she kept playing for a long time. She enjoyed picking up the leftover bits of the mixture and then sprinkling it down to make it “snow” all over the yard.

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Although I wouldn’t recommend regularly sprinkling a shaving cream mixture on your grass, it doesn’t hurt once during the winter season!

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