How to Rock a Real-Life Scavenger Hunt (Even in Distance Learning!)

Today in my distance learning Google Meet, I did a thing. It was the most fun thing I have ever done in distance learning and I’m so excited to tell you all about it: I had a real sight word scavenger hunt in my neighborhood! It was so engaging for my little learners!

This little idea all came from a brainstorming session. I wanted to get my kinders excited about sight words so they’d have more buy-in to learn them. Of course I could add more digital activities, but we all know that the littlest learners are not impressed by clicking buttons all the time. So this idea was born: I would create a real, live scavenger hunt and take my kiddos along with me!

The Scavenger Hunt is Born!

As soon as this idea popped into my brain, I knew I had to make it happen. I started by checking with my admin; was I even allowed to take my Google Meet outside? After getting her enthusiastic support, I began creating my sight word adventure!

I wanted to put sight words all over my neighborhood and have my kiddos record them as we found them. But there were some hitches. I live in an urban gated community, and we all have “those neighbors” that can’t help but complain about something. So with this in mind, I took to social media to get neighbors’ support.

I logged in to the Nextdoor app, and posted a message to my fellow neighbors. I asked them to let me post an 8.5 by 11 sheet of paper with a sight word on their garage door (or a tree, or something!) outside their home. After posting to explain my idea, I waited for responses.

I’m so happy to say that my neighborhood supports teachers! I got many responses with sweet messages and encouragement, allowing me to post a sight word on their garage. My distance learning scavenger hunt was going to work!

Preparing a Real-Life Scavenger Hunt

Early in the morning before my school day began, I walked around my neighborhood with painter’s tape and 8.5 by 11 sheets of brightly-colored cardstock with sight words written in bold black marker. I went to each house that had given me permission and posted a sight word on their garage door like this:

distance learning scavenger hunt for sight words

When I had a few extra sight words left over, I posted some along the route I would walk with my Google Meet friends. I wanted to make sure that I kept up the engagement and didn’t have the words too far apart.

Easy enough, right?! The prep and setup was ridiculously simple and less time consuming than a lot of lessons I’ve done. I went home and impatiently waited to start my morning Google Meet. It was going to be so exciting!

Kindergarteners Go on the Hunt

Finally, it was time to log in for our morning meeting. I used my cell phone, since I’d be out of WiFi range of my house. I logged in to Google Meet and made them all guess where I was. They thought it was so cool that I was outside!

Then I set the scene for them: Zoey (my toddler) and I were taking our morning walk around the neighborhood, but we noticed something very strange. I turned my camera and showed them my garage door. What was that on my garage? It was our newest sight word, of course! I told them to grab their whiteboards and write it down.

But then I told them it was very strange, because there were sight words all over my neighborhood! It was also a very windy day, so we have to go get them before they blow away!

I flipped my camera and held it out in front of me, panning around the neighborhood as I walked. Each time they spotted a sight word, they yelled “There’s one more!” and we would stop to write it down, and I would collect it. (Easy way to clean up as we go!) We adventured through the community, collecting about 10 sight words along the way.

The Teacher Learns the Lessons

This experience has given me a mood boost in regards to distance learning (let’s face it, we all get down about it from time to time). Seeing how excited they were with this simple activity reminded me that I need to take a step back and breathe. There’s a lot of pressure on teachers right now to show growth, and there are many outspoken folks who say kids aren’t learning in distance education. It’s tough!

In this moment, though, it was all about them. The spark I saw in their eyes when we were doing something so engaging made my teacher heart so happy. My takeaway from seeing this was that the only opinions that truly matter are those of my little learners. They’re learning. And they’re loving it.

I’ve also made engagement a bigger priority, and this post lists even more engagement strategies that I’m putting into action! When my kiddos are engaged, they’re learning. Even if we are distance learning, I can create the engagement, and they’ll soak it up. It’s what kids do.

So with these ideas in mind, go forth and make fun for your kiddos! Have that adventure, be silly, engage them. They are what matters, not the adults and the politics. We can make them excited to log in every day, and that means everything.

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