Thursday, March 27, 2014

Signs of Springs | Pirate Scavenger Hunt

Of all the things we give ourselves mother guilt over, one of mine is feeling like I don't encourage, participate, or create enough opportunities for pretend play with Charlie.  I spent so much time with Andrew, when he was Charlie's age, dreaming up imaginary places, adventures and stories.  I'm not sure what happened when number 2 came along, but I often feel a bit tapped out in this department.  I think a lot of mothers can relate too, it takes time and energy to participate in imaginative play with our children and those are two things we all tend to run low on, especially when we have multiple children to take care of.  Also, Charlie is just as happy blowing bubbles or playing hide and seek as he is dressing up and having a more elaborate game, so I tend to keep our playtime together pretty simple.  But every once in a while,  I get the spark to add a little extra fun to our time together.  So, with the arrival of spring, pirates on the brain (Disney is releasing The Pirate Fairy on Blu-ray and Digital HD April 1), and a free Sunday afternoon, my wheels started spinning...

(left) C's attempt at a pirate face, Argh!!

We invited a couple friends to come over for an afternoon of high adventure.  We corralled some pirate gear and our imaginations and hoped the weather would cooperate.  Some nice, 60 degree (maybe 70 if we were really lucky), sunny weather was what I ordered, but instead it was in the 40s and little (er,  a lot) chillier than we had planned.  Still didn't impact our fun though.

 Before Charlie's friends arrived, the two of us put together a list of items that we might see outside now that it is spring.  I found images and made it into a "spring treasure map" (i.e.. scavenger hunt).  The boys dressed up as pirates and we pretended we had just landed on an island where we had to spot the signs of spring found on our treasure maps.

 I burned the edges of the maps to make them look old.  Even though Charlie saw me do this, he asked at one point if the maps were really old treasure maps.  I said of course.  And he went running to tell his friends.  I love that innocence.

^^C's pirate face is hysterical. So scary. Haha.^^
Andrew even joined us, asking the younger boys to call him Captain Andrew.  They each had a marker tucked in their pirate sashes and they would mark off the items as they found or heard them.  I know I'm not the first to do this sort of nature scavenger hunt, but I started to question why I had waited till now to try one with my kids.  It worked so well and the boys were so into it.

^^ can you spot the woodpecker?^^
^^we never did find a ladybug, guess it was too chilly!^^
We spotted two woodpeckers knocking away at trees.  The boys squealed at the sight of each flower, and became completely still and quiet to hear the birds singing.  They studied the types of birds, commenting on how many robins they saw.  They chased squirrels and inspected branches for buds and signs of new growth.  It was really a lot of fun for everyone.  It was an engaging way to get little boys to stop and appreciate the sights and sounds around them; the way our surroundings change with the arrival of a new season.

^^we spied three nests on our walk^^

We celebrated finding (almost) all of their items with cupcakes back at our house. (Gold chocolate coins would have been a good idea too.)  Like a boy-ish tea party. :)    I purchased the cupcakes and added pirate toppers that I've had in the cupboard for years.

It was nice not to have to save themed costumes or cupcakes for a birthday party.  It almost made it feel more special because it was for no other reason than to celebrate the arrival of spring with a couple friends.  You can bet that I'll be creating new scavenger hunts for future seasonal nature hikes.  Not every time, just when we all feel the itch to make the everyday just a little less typical.

Here is a link to a printable version of the map we made if you would like to use it with your own kiddos.


  1. Tessa,
    You always look so cute. You just need to start leaving all your sources for your clothing as a matter of course. We will always ask! :) Details on the sweater, please?

    1. Thanks, Vicki! Sweater is Crew Cuts from the fall. I normally don't try to squeeze into children's clothing but this one was too cute not to try. I bet it will be available at the Factory Store in the fall.

  2. I love that the first picture in each of the last two posts features you with your arm around your boys. You are the BEST mama! And the cutest one too! xoxo

    PS - Not really LLH Designs these days, but haven't figured out how to comment as Bravehearted Beauty yet! ;)