I think it is safe to say that this winter has been brutal no matter where you live in the US (except maybe sunny Florida). Yesterday was a welcome 70 degree spring day and I was determined to get my kids out for some fresh air. We’re on spring break this week which makes it all the more fun! I haven’t taken both kids on an adventure since last fall when BayBay was a “new 1” and The Bear a “new 3.” I admit, I was a bit nervous about being outnumbered. But I was willing to take the risk for some rays of sunshine on our faces.
What better place to take my little wild things than the St. Louis Zoo? It’s one of my favorite places in the entire world. Before heading out, I pulled out our Adventure Kit from the toy closet. What’s an Adventure Kit? I’m glad you asked. 🙂 Last Christmas, the kids’ adventure-loving aunt and uncle gave them an Adventure Kit. The contents included: a kid-friendly digital camera, a first-aid kit, a collapsible water bottle, Fun With Nature: Take Along Guide, Best Easy Day Hikes St. Louis, and several nature scavenger hunts. They explained that we could use the camera to collect photos of the items on the scavenger hunt lists- AWESOME IDEA! I used my home laminator to preserve the lists, but you could use contact paper or a Ziploc bag. At the end of this post I’ll provide links to some resources for free scavenger hunts you can print at home.
(Also, Baybay received a reversible hat UPF 50+ with a Velcro buckle for growing heads. I really love that the size is adjustable and it will keep her little head safe from the sun. It was in her room during naptime when I took the title image. I’d rather take my chances in a lion’s den than risk waking a sleeping toddler!)
I wasn’t brave enough to take on Mother Nature without Daddysaurus, but I thought the urban forest of the Zoo would provide a great opportunity to practice our photo scavenger hunt skills. I knew I’d have my hands full with both kiddos and frequently consulting a list (and not losing it) was not a realistic goal. Instead I thought we could practice some working memory skills. I asked The Bear to pick 3 animals he wanted to photograph. I asked for 3 because children are able to remember the number of items equivalent to their age. People max out around 7 (which, you may know, is why phone numbers are 7 digits long). He selected giraffe, penguin, and alligator. I held up three fingers and pointed at each one as I repeated them back to help him commit them to memory. I asked him to recall them 3-4 times in the car. The longer I waited in between requests, the harder it was for him. I’d hold up the fingers and that helped. Then he said he wanted to take a picture of a fish so I we added that since he was remembering the other 3 consistently. I also encouraged him to repeat them back in order rather than just randomly naming them. I know this sounds pretty simple, but it’s an easy way to strengthen your child’s working memory which is really important in cognitive development. (If you’d like any references, resources, or information please comment below and I can get it for you. I’m trying to write this post during a quick morning nap time so I’m opting not to dig it out!).
The Bear had a great time with his camera! It was hard for him to hold still long enough to get good pictures, but I told him he had to hold the button and count to three which helped. The penguins were redecorating so we didn’t get a photo of a real one and we didn’t find a real fish, but we found a solution to that.
He captured some other fascinating shots (for a 3 year-old): the sky at the top of a waterfall, funky shadows on his corduroys, and my personal favorite, his momma in the Sea Lion Sound.
Scavenger hunt resources (You can also make your own. If you child is a pre-reader, pictures are a great way to go!)
What would you put in your Adventure Kit? Where would you take it?