One Awesome Educational Hack for a Fabulous Summer
Easy plan. Children, avert your eyes.
“FREE AT LAST!” … The joyful proclamation as the school year ends. But is that it? No more learning? Time for total educational depravity? What’s the deal? Why is summertime so much more exciting to kids?
The secret: Summertime = Playtime.
Well here’s my little SECRET blog for parents only. Children, go back to your celebrating and put those binoculars away for a minute!
Maria Montessori, the great educational theorist, once noted, “Play is the work of the child.” Unbeknownst to them, children may learn more from playing than they realize. This summer (and maybe all year), can I suggest an easy game type that holds many options for size, subject, location, learning, flexibility, and team building? This type of game is used by pre-school teachers, therapists, youth groups, and businesses. Have you guessed it yet?
Wait, really? Yes.
With GUNS?!?!? Yeah, no.
Did you know that hunting, whether in the form of a list (scavenger hunts, proper) or in the form of a riddle (treasure hunts), are enormously beneficial? I bet you have taken part in one, haven’t you?
Scavenger hunts and treasure hunts provide opportunity to move your body, sharpen your skills, explore, discover, and problem solve. These types of games allow people, both young and old, to experience the dopamine rush of success, and the positive effects of laughter, exercise, and learning. You learn tons without even realizing it!
Where and How
At Museums and Historic Sites: Use scavenger hunts that you create (maybe by color, or the letters of the alphabet) or ones provided by the venue. There are also great options online! These help participants to become more observant, appreciate details, feel purposeful, and have fun. They may become more familiar with a certain artist or topic, or perhaps appreciate things that initially did not catch their eye. Today there are even tours being set up to maximize adult fun by providing scavenger hunts in major museums!
At Sporting Events: Use scavenger hunts to help anyone have fun before a game or during slow times. Even non-sports fans may get in on this action! Go generic, or get them acquainted with team statistics. Introduce them to team bios and help them better understand who they are seeing. Hook into their competitive nature!
Outdoors and While Camping: Acquaint them with a new campsite or environment. Help them to slow down and observe. Use the time to immerse them in all the tactile bounty around them. (Recently I helped an elementary-aged group search for nature items. I was amazed at how many had never even touched a worm!) Children are slowly losing touch with nature. Go outside and play… great ideas abound!
While On Vacation: Take a real break and still educate! Let someone else come up with clues for you! Pokémon Go! may be the most popular recent scavenger hunting sensation, but why not change things up? Before Pokémon Go! we had great worldwide scavenger and treasure hunts like Geocaching (great to learn orienteering and map skills) and Letterboxing (same… only add artistic expression). Still active, both of these notable “hunting” games can introduce you to places only locals know about, including parks, heritage sites, and favorite local hangouts. While visiting Cape Cod one year, my family wound up discovering the incredible and unexpected treasure of the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge, while merely in pursuit of a little hidden plastic box! Warning… these free adventures are so much fun you may get addicted!
In Your Neighborhood: When played with respect for others, these neighborhood hunts can develop community spirit, happiness, and community education. From the simplest list to corporate challenges, this is a very easy way to turn a “regular” day at home into an enthusiastic day in the neighborhood.
Exciting, educational, team-building opportunities are all around you. Today, scavenger hunts and treasure hunts are for everyone. From brain quests to fortune making to corporate team building and cultural training to summer educational opportunities, hunting in its various forms is fun!
A Little Agreement, A Little Reward
So, parents, as we conclude, two things:
First, please keep this secret tool for learning between us. Plato once said, “Do not keep children to their studies by compulsion but by play.” This can be our little secret.
Second, R. W. Emerson has stated, “It is a happy talent to know how to play.” But knowing and doing are different, aren’t they? So parents, either put some of the links in this article into action or go figure out a secret message I hid for you. Find three words at the following locations to reveal it!
Within this blog, the 16th link (be careful!): 16th word of the very last paragraph on the page.
Within this blog, the 12th link (make sure to count correctly!): 2nd paragraph, last sentence, 21st word.
Excelsior Classes link > “What people are saying” > my name > only word in caps!
Julie Rohr is both a homeschooling parent and a professional educator. She has served students of all ages and skill levels in both live and online settings. She has written curriculum and has presented on topics in local, national, and international forums. Julie has taught for the past 22+ years in many areas of art and culture. She knows there is more to enjoy in great art than just “The Last Supper.” Ms. Rohr has personally developed a series of Art History courses that delights and engages students. Her drawing classes have seen participants grow in leaps and bounds! She is excited to offer a new course in general art for high school students that will ensure they have a solid foundation in a broad range of visual art topics. Additionally, Ms. Rohr serves as a student and parent-oriented community builder, offering social events and clubs for Excelsior students and families. The results of her time in class and clubs are confident, thoughtful, informed students who are ready to contribute to the culture around them with a biblical view of art and creative skills.