Guest writer Jenny Herman joins us today with a wonderful way to make language arts fun for any age child with a library scavenger hunt.
I love finding ways to make learning fun and practical. One thing I like to incorporate into my homeschool is scavenger hunts. Last year, I came up with the idea of a library scavenger hunt.
What better way to teach reading, writing, and research skills than by taking your kids to the library. The great thing about a library scavenger hunt is you can adapt it for any age and level of skill. Littles can hunt for letters, and high schoolers can hunt down obscure information. After an introduction, set your homeschool student loose and let hands-on, real-life learning begin!
- Be sure your child has whatever skills are needed to complete the scavenger hunt you create. You don’t want to lose a love for the library because your child wasn’t equipped!
- Decide what kind of hunt you want your child to do. Will they hunt for certain kinds of words or sentences in picture books? Will they look up books on a variety of topics? Will they hunt by authors? Will they use encyclopedias? Will they combine skills? Will you hide instructions in different places throughout the library to be followed one after the other, or will you give them one sheet with all their questions? You get the idea.
- Consider how much time each question will take to complete. If you don’t, you may end up with a blobbish child falling all over the library table. One time I created a scavenger hunt using a variety of skills and what I thought was “only eight questions”. What I didn’t think through, was that if each question took fifteen minutes the entire hunt would take two hours. And guess what? It took longer because my boys shut down in frustration. Learn from my mistake!
- Create your questions. (See samples below.)
- Take your child to the library and let him loose. Of course, let him know what kind of behavior you expect and any instructions he needs.
Now that you’ve got the basic gist down, you can create all kinds of library scavenger hunts for a variety of ages and purposes. I’ll share some examples with you.
Hunt for adjectives, verbs, etc.
Look for a variety of sentence types, whether by end punctuation or sentence structure.
Look for a funny sentence, a sad sentence, a silly sentence, etc.
Search for certain kinds of imagery.
Choose an author and see what kinds of books he’s written.
Hunt down illustrations in a certain style—black and white, pop-up, sketch, etc.
Look up definitions, find historical information, and locate a book on a certain topic.
Use a variety of materials to answer questions such as dictionaries, atlases, encyclopedias, magazines, newspapers, etc.
Here are some actual questions I’ve used:
- Find a kid magazine you’d like to read. Read one article. Tell me something you learned.
- Find an animal book to check out.
- Look at the Dewey Decimal System chart in the library (the book number chart). Find out where math books are, then choose one to check out.
- Find a biography of Abraham Lincoln. Tell me two things about him.
- Find the encyclopedias. Find the one that includes chocolate and tell me two things about it.
- Find an atlas. Tell me the capital of Paraguay.
- Find a dictionary. Write down the definition of exuberant.
- Find a history or science book you’d like to check out.
Those questions were from the scavenger hunt I didn’t plan well. Notice many of those questions require multiple steps and skills. Take that into account as you build and plan time for your activity. It’s better to have a shorter hunt with lots of fun and eagerness than one that drags on and ends in tears. Trust me, I know.
Now, that you’ve got your brain percolating on this idea, what kind of library scavenger hunt will you consider creating? I’d love to hear! Leave a comment below.
Jenny Herman writes from a real-life perspective so others can peek inside life with special needs. She shares what works for her in an effort to help others with homeschooling and high-functioning autism. Jenny’s motto is “Just keep swimming.”