Starting when Mushroom and BalletBoy were about three, we started doing treasure hunts around the house for fun. I began with simple pictures – a box, a rug, a toy, etc. Sometimes I would get creative and draw a picture of something complicated, like the Tibetan mandala on the living room wall. Each clue leads to another clue until you get to the prize. By the time they were four, I would occasionally add in a word, like “TV” or “pot.” By the time they were five, BalletBoy could read all the words with ease and was ready for simple sentences like, “Look under the sofa.” I had to split up the treasure hunting at that point and make two sets of clues according to reading ability.
The prize at the end of the hunt is usually pretty small – a couple chocolate chips or maybe some cookies they would have gotten for dessert anyway. However, this has been one of our most enduring games over the years. I used to use cut up scraps of paper, but I recently started using tiny sticky notes. BalletBoy begs for a hunt nearly every day and suggests elaborate, usually time consuming ways to improve them. In order to keep his clues challenging, I’ve begun writing couplets: “Look in the place that keeps things cold. Food won’t spoil or get old.” Okay, really lame couplets. Maybe I need to reread A Suitable Boy and fall in love with rhyming couplets again so I can improve the quality of my couplet writing.
This simple game’s a painless way
To practice reading every day
No, that was still lame. I’ll stick to blogging and fiction and avoid the poetry.