At 4 am it came to me that for our next play date at the playground we should do a number hunt. I would take number magnets and hide them around the playground (which is all made out of metal) and the kids would have to find them in the order the numbers go.
This was last minute, so I didn’t really have time to look in many stores for the magnet numbers (I am sure we have some somewhere, too), so I got little foam tiles with numbers that pop out on them and hot glued some round magnets I had in the back of it. I put them on a small cookie sheet and we brought that to the playground on our play date. Nico (4 years old, almost 5) wanted to do a “practice hunt” before his friend (same age as Nico) got there, so Alex hid the numbers and Nico got searching. The rule was simple: Find the numbers in the order you count them in, for example if you find the 6 but you are technically only at number 3, you leave it there until you are at that number, so you can come back and get it. At one point he couldn’t find a number, so Alex gave him a hint, which helped, but for another number the hint didn’t, so we played “hot cold” until he found it. He did pretty good at the test run and could not wait for his friend to come, so they could do it together.
His friend arrived and right away Nico explained the rules and they got searching. It took his friend a little to get the hang of it (Nico knew what the numbers looked like, so it was easier for him to spot them), but in the two hours we were there, they played the game at least 10 times! Even his friend’s 3-year-old sister joined in and was part of the most hilarious part of the day, when the boys searched for a number and she just tagged along and at one point took the number off a post and just said “Hey guys…” holding it up for them to see. The great thing about this game is that it is really easy and cheap to make, teaches numbers, sequences, observation and if you play with more kids, even team work. You can also shake things up and have them search descending instead or go up by twos or you call out a composed number (like 31) and the kids have to find both numbers and bring them over. Oh, and it is lots of fun, too, because once they know how it works, they can set it up themselves and keep themselves occupied.
If you do this, we’d LOVE to see a photo of it. Email it to us or post it on our Facebook page. Don’t forget to also follow us on Pinterest and our “Around the World in 12 Dishes” series also has its own Pinterest boards for each country. We’d love to do a Facebook album, a Pinterest board and a page of your creations