This giant search-and-find learning game is super low prep, and can be used to teach kids just about anything: letters, numbers, sight words, and more! I know the last learning activity I shared was a scavenger hunt, but I can’t be stopped! My boys just love to hunt for things. Technically, we named this one a word “search”, but let’s be honest…it’s pretty much a scavenger hunt. But it was also TOO FUN not to share.
It all started with an idea I found on Instagram last week by Days with Grey. Her activity invited kids to find their name among a sea of names written on a giant sheet of butcher paper. I immediately thought it would be a great activity for my four-year-old, and it was a great success!
But then I got to thinking…you could do SO much more with this basic concept. So, I got busy experimenting. My preschooler just starting to learn sight words, so I decided to adapt the game to help him practice some of the first words from Fry’s 100 list.
I decided to focus on just six words for this activity. You could do as many as you want, but since he’s just starting to dip his toes in the world of reading, I wanted to keep the scope small and achievable for him.I was blown away by the results of this activity.
Number 1: This is my child who usually balks at the structured activities I try to plan. But he LOVED this one and did the whole thing in one sitting!
Number 2: I realized how many sight words he actually already knows! He successfully read 5 of the six words I had chosen on his own without help from me. I guess preschool is doing him some good! (It also reminded me why I believe it’s important to do activities like this…it gives me a chance to gauge my child’s academic skills and understanding).
Super-sized search-and-find learning game
What we’re learning
- word identification
- sight words
- fine motor skills (proper pen grip)
- large piece of paper/poster board
- word list/strips/flashcards
- Print & cut out desired number of sight word flashcards (I used these free ones that I had on hand from another learning activity)
- Write the chosen words on a large piece of butcher paper or poster board in random order (I wrote each word 6 times).
- Tape the large paper to a table, wall, or floor.
How to play
- Tell your child that you have created a super-sized search-and-find game.
- Hand them the stack of flash cards and explain that their job is to flip over a card and then hunt down and circle that word on the giant paper as many times as it appears (“Find all of the “You’s”).
- Bonus: You can practice counting skills
- Once they have found the first word, flip over the next card and continue play until all the words have been found. Note: It can be helpful to switch your marker color for each word to help your child differentiate visually between words (I tried to do this, but my son insisted on using blue from the second word on…pick your battles, people).
Don’t worry if the paper looks like this at the end…Sometimes, you’ve got to let them have a little freedom and control in the activity. My little guy wanted to turn it into a map and draw lines from word to word…pretty clever really!
What I love most about this activity is just how versatile it is. You can use it for ALL sorts of learning objectives and ages. Here are a few ideas:
- Names – Write your child’s name 8-10 times randomly on the large piece of paper. Fill in the remaining white space on the page by writing lots of other names (I found it was fun for my son when I wrote other names he was familiar with from family and friends). Have your child “hunt” for his or her own name and circle it as many times as it appears.
- Alphabet – Have your child hunt for upper and/or lower case letters. Use these free printable flashcards to get you started.
- Math facts– write a bunch of math facts and have your child circle all the ones whose sum is “7” (or whatever number). Extend this by assigning each sum number a different color (circle “5” sum equations with green, circle “6” equations with red, etc.)
- Spelling words – same as the sight word activity described above, but use your elementary school student’s spelling list. They’ll be much more willing to study for the test if it’s a fun game!
- Vocabulary words – same as the sight word activity described above, but use your child’s vocabulary list. You could even give them the definition on a card (have THEM create the cards for themselves!) and have them find the word that matches the definition.
Can you think of any other ways you could use this search-and-find learning game with your kids?