Fun Egg Hunt for Little Readers

Little girl opening plastic Easter egg
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What can parents do to foster and encourage early reading ability? Try this reading alternative to the traditional Easter Egg hunt. Instead of hiding eggs for children to find in the morning, hide plastic eggs, each of which contains a written clue from the Easter Bunny on where to find the next egg. The last hiding place should contain a simple gift. If you don't want to buy a separate gift, the final clue can lead to where the Easter Bunny has hidden the Easter basket!

It's perfect for verbally gifted kids. There's also a version for kids who love math.

Don't believe in Easter? No problem, this activity can be used on any gift-giving holiday. All you need are empty containers for the clues.

Step 1: Decide How Many Eggs Your Child Should Have to Find

Younger children will probably be happy with fewer clues to work out than older children, but the number you choose really depends on your child. Too many clues can make the game tedious, but too few won't be challenging enough.

Step 2: Gather Supplies

Count out the number of eggs you will need. Remember that you'll have one less egg than you have clues because the last clue leads not to an egg, but to a surprise. If you've prepared the clues ahead of time, collect them. If not, get the paper on which you will write the clues as well as a full sheet of paper to help you keep track of where you have hidden the clues and which clue leads to which egg.

Step 3: Determine Where to Hide the Eggs

The plastic eggs should not be hidden where a child could easily spot them without the clues, behind a photo on a table or on the floor behind a table leg, for example. Instead, think of places like inside the refrigerator or in the dishwasher. The hiding places can be anywhere in the house, not just in the living room or family room, where the Easter Bunny is most likely to visit.

Older children will enjoy branching out, but younger children might do better with the clues confined to smaller areas.

Step 4: Prepare a Chart to Keep Track of the Clues, the Eggs, and the Hiding Places

Draw a table on a sheet of paper with three columns and as many rows as you have clues. In the first column, write down the row number, starting with number one. The second column is for the clue to be placed in the first egg. Leave it blank for now. In the third column, write the hiding place the clue leads to. It is where the second egg will be placed. Continue filling out the chart so you can easily see where each clue leads and you'll know where to place each egg. Egg number one contains the clue that leads to egg number 2, and so on.

Step 5: Write Out the Clues

Write the clues in the chart. That will help you keep track of them and not get mixed up before you place them in the eggs. If you're poetic, you can write them in rhyme. Otherwise, give clues that will make your child think. For example, if you hide an egg in the refrigerator, you can say something like "Look in a place where food is kept cold." That hint would work for a younger child, but might be too easy for an older child.

For early readers, much of the fun is in the reading, so the clues can be pretty easy. The egg in the refrigerator has a clue leading to the next egg and so on.

Step 6: Number the Eggs

Writing the numbers on the eggs can make hiding the eggs in the right order much easier. The numbers can be very small since only you need to see them. The numbers will correspond to the numbers on your chart.

Step 7: Put the Clues in the Eggs

Following your chart, write down the clues on the slips of paper. Fold the papers and insert one clue in each egg. Make sure that you put the right clue in the right egg! Clue number one goes in egg number one and so on.

Step 8: Hide the Eggs

Again following the chart, place the eggs in the proper hiding places. The first egg will be out in the open since it contains the first hint. You can put it in the Easter basket if you leave it out for your child to see on Easter morning. Or you can just leave it where the Easter basket should be. It just needs to be where it can be seen easily. Remember that egg number one is not the egg the child finds first, but the one that contains the first clue. Egg number two is placed where that first clue leads.

Step 9: Hide the Surprise

The last hint leads to the surprise. A book is a good choice, but it can be anything you think your child would like. If your child likes puzzles, it can be a new puzzle. If your child likes movies, it can be a DVD. It doesn't have to be an expensive surprise; it can even be the Easter basket itself, so you aren't spending any more money that you would have spent anyway.

Tips:

  1. Number the plastic eggs so you don't get them mixed up. One egg out of order and the hunt won't work!
  2. The egg hunt can be prepared ahead of time so that all you need to do on Easter Eve is hide the eggs. Determining where to hide the eggs and creating the clues ahead of time gives you more time to think of good hiding places and great clues!
  3. Make the clues challenging enough to be interesting, but not so hard that your child will become frustrated.
  4. Use paper from a 3 1/2 X 3 1/2 inch note tablet for writing the clues. That will eliminate the need for cutting paper into pieces that will fit into the eggs and will also keep you from writing clues that are too lengthy. Small children need larger print and less complex clues. Older children can read smaller print and can figure out more complex clues. Both will fit nicely on that size paper.
  5. If you are creating this hunt for something other than Easter, like a birthday, you can use envelopes instead of plastic eggs to hold the clues. The final clue leads to the big birthday present! If you give more than one present, you can lead your child to them one at a time, saving the biggest for last.

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