Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Scavenger Hunts for Emerging Readers

No matter how excited children are when they begin learning to read, there inevitably comes a time when they will hit a wall of frustration. Learning to read is hard work. Small children are not used to the discipline involved with leaning, and they will often pull back a little as the going gets harder.

That doesn't mean the learning needs to stop. We've had great success jump starting our reluctant readers with scavenger hunts. There are a few good resources for parents who do not want to work out there own games, but the frugal and resourceful homeschool parent, can certainly handle this one on their own.

I like to set things off with a "ransom" note. I will sneak into the child's room early in the morning and kidnap a favorite toy, leaving behind a short note in its place. For a beginning reader, the note needs to be very simple. Here is a sample of how we like to begin.
  • No bear? Look up. The next note is on the wall above the bed.
  • Look under the bed. The next not is under the bed.
  • Look at the eggs. The bear is in the refrigerator sitting next to the eggs.

I repeat a word like "look", over and over throughout the hunt. The next day when the bear is gone I will change the repeated word. Sentences start out very simple, and are often accompanied by a sketched picture to help clarify more difficult words. It can be a good idea to check out a list like Dolch sight words when choosing words for the hunt.

After a few days of bear stealing, I will change to a treasure hunt, with a treat at the end. As we move forward with the game, the sentences become longer and more complicated, and the clues increase in number, but still repeat key sight words. Usually a week or two of scavenger hunts will reignite an interest in learning to read.

It's great to be a homeschooler

1 comment:

Butterfly said...

This is a good one! I'll use it soon.

For my son's 5th birthday we made cards with clues telling him where to look for his hidden presents. These were a combination of maps and words so it would be at his reading level. My daughter liked it so much we did the same for her yen days later, for her 4th birthday.