Thursday, April 14, 2011

Slightly off Topic: DC Scavenger Hunt for Kids

Spring break is next week for area schools and it seems like the hot trip to take this vacation is to Washington, DC. We love to take road trips with our kids (ages 9, 7, 5) and made the trip down last summer. Because I am a geek at heart, I gleefully poured through the travel guides (borrowed from the Albany Public Library) and made a scavenger hunt for our trip. I'm not sure if the kids or I loved the hunt more, but it made the trip a blast. Museums that would have been ho hum for their ages were exciting because you never knew where we would find the next clue.

If you are going to try a whole trip scavenger hunt, I'd suggest:
1. Keep a travel journal and make the scavenger hunt part of it. We used a small notebook as our DC travel journal, ideally just choose something small and easy to carry around. We usually put fun things like states we've been through or license plates we've seen in there. We also jot down what we've done each day, usually we have each child contribute writing or drawing or gathering items to tape in. These journals of our trips are by far our best souvenirs.
2. Make sure there is a prize at the end. We told our kids if they finished the scavenger hunt, they would each get $15 to pick out a souvenir, roughly $1 a clue to share. Those ridiculous things they choose are still treasured items because they worked so hard for them. As a parent, it also makes it easier to swallow spending $15 on a stuffed bear in a leather flight jacket with goggles.

3. Let them get creative. When I made the list, I had something in mind for each clue. The majority of the clues they found didn't match my vision and made it really exciting for everyone. Plus, there were a few items that were not as prevalent as I expected, for example I thought DC would be teeming with famous people and with documents signed by the founding fathers, but you don't actually see those everywhere. Wooden teeth also proved deceptive.
4. Adapt clues for your ages of children. If you have younger children, add some basic items like colors and shapes or even animals. If you have older children, make some of the clues a bit more challenging (and up the prize).
5. As with anything with kids, if it's not working, toss it! I can't tell you the number of times as a parent I've tried the same thing over and over because it worked so well for other parents. Sadly, there is no magic activity to create an amazing vacation. Spark loves ideas and if you have a different thing you do with your kids on vacation to make it fun, share it in the comment section!
Have a great Spring Break Albany families!
Ginnie's Scavenger Hunt for Washington, DC:
I put a few of our answers in (parenthesis) under the clues just for fun, but don't let that influence your choices!
1. Find a building that has its picture on money.
(Lincoln Memorial)
2. A traffic circle.
3. A document signed by a founding father.
4. A plane that flew "Wright".
(Wright brother's plane)
5. A blooming tree that George chopped down.
(cherry trees- capital)
6. An animal where it shouldn't be.
7. A dome
(Museum of Natural History)
8. A statue of a person (who?)
(George Washington, in front of the Society of the Cincinati).
9. An abstract Statue
10. An unusual plant.
11. Something you've never seen in Albany.
(cupcake store)
12. Taste something you've never tried.
(soft shell crab)
13. A living famous person.
14. A famous piece of art.
15. A famous place
(smithsonian castle)
16. An embassy
17. A horse that runs all day and goes nowhere.
18. A famous house.
19. The name of someone famous born in DC.
20. A spirit that flew over the ocean.
(Spirit of St. Louis)
21. Something pre-historic.
22. Fins something of New York in DC.
(Chuck Schumer's desk- highly recommend visiting your representative's offices!)
23. A gem that is the biggest in the world.
(Hope Diamond)
24. The flag that inspired a song.
25. The original sparkle shoe.
(Ruby Slippers)
26. A famous kitchen.
27. An azure butterfly.
28. An underground train.
(Senate train to the Capitol)
29. Name of the architect of Capitol Hill.
30. A statue of a person that isn't a person, but an idea.
31. Tallest masonry structure in the world.
32. A memorial building inspired by a memorial in Rome.
33. A famous invention (original).
(first windsurfer)
34. A famous person born in NY.
35. A giant pool you see things in but don't swim in.
36. Something inspiring.
37. A famous poem.
(Francis Scott Key's The Star Spangled Banner)
38. A mythical creature.
39. A street performer.
(this was tough, there aren't many in DC, but we did finally see one at a metro stop)
40.Something that has been in outer space.
41. Wooden teeth.
(Teeth on a totem pole at the Native American museum)
42. An insect you've never seen before.
43. A famous library.
44. The site of a historic event.
45. Something that reminds you of the Big Egg (or something that reminds you of home, my children just happen to be obsessed with the Egg).
46. Something you did for the first time.
47. Your favorites: thing to see, to do, to try!

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