Well, this past week was week one of my Adventure a Week Challenge, and I think we are off to a great start!  I made an illustrated free printable, and its available at the end of the post, for anyone else who would like to do this scavenger hunt adventure, so be sure not to miss it:

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When I first mentioned to my four year old daughter that we were going to have an adventure a week, she was thrilled. I told her we might do a nature scavenger hunt, and she said, “Ooooh, how about a pirate nature hunt?” A pirate hunt? I wasn’t sure how we could do that, so I told her that it would probably wouldn’t be about pirates, and that was fine with her.

But the idea of a nature scavenger hunt with a pirate theme stuck with me. So I put my pen to work and illustrated this “treasure map” with various items we could find in the woods that look like (and we could pretend are) pirate gear or pirate treasure.  She was so excited!  The whole time we were getting ready to go, she kept saying “Arrrrrgh!” to everything.

The “pirate gear” items to find are:
– a sword (a stick with a “handle”)
– an eye patch (a round leaf which you attach to ribbon – just make sure its not poison ivy!)
-a pirate’s hook (a curved stick)

And the “pirate treasure” items are:
-jewels (rocks and pebbles)
-gold doubloons (acorn caps)
-pearls (berries – make sure they don’t eat them!)

And then, at the end you keep the pirate gear, but find a good place to “bury” the treasures – in a log, a hollow tree stump, etc. Of course, X marks the spot, so you use two sticks to make an X over the place they are buried.
I’ve attached the printable at the end of the post.  For the adventure, I recommend taking the following items…

– A basket or something to carry the things your kids find on the scavenger hunt
– A camera to catch their expressions when they find their treasures
-The treasure map printed out
-A pen or marker so they can check off the “Aye!” boxes next to each item they find – and I would recommend something to write down funny things the kids say.  I wish I had done this – I ended up scribbling down some precious quotes afterwards on a napkin, but I know there are some that I missed.
-Pieces of ribbons to tie onto the leaf and make an eye patch

One other option in getting ready to go is a costume.  My little one want to be dressed as a pirate to go find her pirate treasures, naturally. :)  Simple pirate costume: adult white button up shirt, a scarf around the waist, and a scarf around the head.  It was a gorgeous day, and there were quite a few people out and about at the state park we went to, and she definitely got lots of smiles as she went traipsing through the forest paths in her pirate get up.

I wasn’t sure how long it would take to find different items – the hook I thought might be one of the hardest items to find, but it was actually what she found first. (She’s being a “scary pirate” there with her hook on the left). The sword was a little harder to find, but not too difficult.  Once she had those, she didn’t want to part with them!

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This is the path we started up. And where she found many of the acorn cap “coins” … later she was describing this path and said “Oh, I found lots of gold moneys here!”

Being outside and roaming around through the woods can give lots of opportunities for learning and teaching.  From just learning how to handle yourself in the woods, to talking about practical things like recognizing poison ivy (and not using it to the eye patch), to more thoughtful remarks about how well God designed the trees, and plenty more.  Kids are sponges, and I love how their eyes widen with amazement when they experience or learn something new.

Finding the eye patch was one of the most difficult things on the list, because since it is February, there aren’t any green leaves left, and most of the leaves and down, crumpled and just not good eye-patch material.  But when she found this leaf she was SO excited to get to wear it! It was a fun little “mini-craft” to make it.  Poke two little holes in the leaf, not too close to the edge of the leaf, and preferably the cut should be parallel to the edge of the leaf, not perpendicular (these two things will help prevent the ribbon just ripping out through the edge of the leaf).  Then simply thread a ribbon through each hole, loop back the doubled ribbon and tie at the back of the head.  Simple, but a pretty effective eye patch!

This was one of my favorite quotes of the day – she really got in the spirit of the hunt, and as she stepped on some gravel she exclaimed, “Oh no! I think I stepped on some jewels!”  Simple things can be so precious in the eyes of a child.

The one thing from the list we couldn’t really find was berries for pearls, because none were growing this time of year.  But she found some of these Sweetgum seed pods, and used those instead.  Here she is holding all her treasures right before “burying” them.

After scouting out some options, she finally found a place she wanted to hide her treasures. It was in a concrete drainage pipe – you can see it a little bit behind her in the photo.  She has her two sticks which she made into an X and placed on top – she loved having this secret hiding place for her treasures with the secret symbol on top.

I had a “bad mama” moment, though.  I was taking some pictures afterwards and accidentally snapped off one of the handle pieces from her sword.  She tried to be tough and keep a stiff upper lip, but I could tell she was broken hearted. (Which goes to show how precious something little like a stick can be!)  So I fixed it up after we got home, with washi tape, and it looked so neat, we ended up decorating the handles of both her sword and hook with washi tape.  This can be an easy way to dress up the finds a little bit after you home, and is a fun and easy craft to do with kids.

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The whole afternoon was a ton of fun, and my little girl had a blast.  She told me she loved the adventure “one hundred”.  As we have some warmer days approaching soon, I thought this might be a fun activity for other families of small kids, so here is the printable to print out and go on a swashbuckling nature adventure of your own.  Just click the image below to open the PDF file, and you can print it from there:

treasure map printable from TheFlourishingAbodePin It

So what do you think of our first week’s adventure? Did anyone else go on an adventure?
Any ideas for what next week’s adventure should be?
Leave you thoughts in the comments below, I really love to hear from you!

(For a list of all the Adventure-a-Week Challenge posts so far, just click here.)