Reaching into a big bowl to find a “hidden treasure” is ever so tempting for many kids, so why not increase the educational value of this game so that it’s a “sensory smart” treasure hunt! Children at a young age learn more from touch than they do from listening, so any type of hands-on learning activity is especially beneficial for understanding and retaining information.
Children are also exploring new sensory sensations through the various substances in the bowl by registering how objects feel, move, sound, and look like. Plus, kids are getting some great fine motor strengthening and dexterity skill practice in as well.
Add all these benefits together along with the excitement of a “treasure hunt”, and it makes a really FUN and enriching game!
Some type of substance such as dry beans, rice, sand, or water
Letters, numbers, or coins
(Optional) Extra treasure chest “goodies” like toy rings, necklaces, rubber snakes, or small toys
How to Play
There are SO MANY different ways you can play this game to tailor it to your child’s learning needs! Here are just a few suggestions:
- Learning letter or number recognition– Hide plastic letters or numbers in a bowl and have your child pull them out individually. Have your child identify the letter or number, and if incorrect, hide it back in the bowl to find again.
- Coin recognition- Hide various coins (i.e. quarters, dimes, pennies, etc..) in the bowl and ask your child to find them and identify what type of coin it is
- Counting money- Have your child pull all of the coins out of the bowl, then add up how much “treasure” they found
- Learning spelling words- Write out your child’s spelling words on paper and place beside the bowl. Have your child reach into the bowl and pull out the letters until they find the ones needed for a spelling word and place over the written word.
- Learning new sensory experiences- If your child is a little skittish about putting his hand in a bowl full of something, start by giving some deep pressure to your child’s hand through a massage or squeezes. Then begin by using a substance he’s comfortable putting his hand into ( perhaps cotton balls) and slowly work up to new sensory experiences. Try using very motivating objects to hunt for as well!
- Doing fine motor strengthening- If you’d like to increase your child’s fine motor strength or dexterity, try using thicker substances that will provide more resistance (i.e. make it harder) for your child to dig through. Substances like jello, pudding, cooked noodles, or sand are excellent (and FUN) choices!
Hopefully your “sensory smart” treasure hunt leads you to finding laughter, learning, and lots of fun as well!