Friday, February 8, 2013

a Valentine's Day orienteering game

Valentine's Day is my favourite time to plant little surprises of the paper or chocolate variety for people who make my life better.  This year I might even stretch that to handknit gifts (though not quite so far as to hand knit hockey socks for Pete, in spite of his needing a new pair rather badly - that's what sport stores are for.)

So, even though I really want to show you the latest super-stripey socks, I'm going to tell you instead about the sneaky idea I'm springing on some people who don't read Hugs.  I am pretty sure you'll have time to pull a version together yourself, if you want to try it out on the people you love.

The Valentine's Day Orienteering Game

This idea sprang from treasure hunts, which I love putting together and then watching unfold.  In the past I've tucked little hearts around with letters on them: find them all, then build the mystery word or phrase.  Sometimes I hide chocolates, like it's an Easter egg hunt.  Sometimes I plot out a series of clues that lead, around the house or wherever, to another clue and eventually to a present.

The orienteering game is a combination of all three.

Step One: decide on a phrase and make your letters

What word or phrase you use reflects how much time and effort you can put into the game.  A simple word is best for young players, but you can go crazy with something much longer for grownups, or for groups.  I am leaning toward 'Elephant Shoes'.  Pet names or full-sentence compliments are good too.

For this example, we'll be using 'Love', so you'd cut out four hearts from whatever coloured paper you like, and label them L, O, V, and E.  You can use Scrabble letters if you have them...

... or hand print them.

Step Two: decide where to hide the hearts

Where you put the hearts can vary depending on who will be playing the game.  You can keep it easy and stick the letter on the spine of a book on an eye-level shelf...

... or complicate it a bit and put it into a sugar bowl in the china cabinet.

You can alliterate and put each heart on a Thing whose name starts with the same letter.

(okay, I just really couldn't wait to show you a bit of my new socks.  they are so pretty!)

You can take the game outside, too.

Step Three: make your clues

Since they'll be building a word or phrase, you want to tell your players how many hearts they have to find, but orienteering clues will give them some direction (literally).

You can present your players with a compass and give them accurate coordinates for finding their letters, or you can keep it simple - in the case of the sugar tongs, perhaps "North, Vertical, One Lump Or Two?"

Either way, presenting each player with a booklet that lists those clues or coordinates, with a space to write the letter they found when they got there, is essential - because unlike in a treasure hunt, they are going to be leaving those letters in place.  You can of course make a really pretty, polished label for your booklet, but handwritten works too if your players aren't picky about uneven lettering, h'mmmm.

Game Variation, Multiple Players

Want to encourage teamwork?  Have your players look for just one word.

What to encourage independence?  Don't tell them you're doing it, but assign each player a unique word... with overlapping letters.  Ha.

Game Wrap-up

When the players get their secret word or phrase out of the jumble of letters they found, they get their present.

Done!  And you become The Best Valentine Ever.  Go you!

Seriously - go, have a great weekend.  And I'll see you Monday (if you can stand a lot of stripey sock glamour shots, heh.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Mary,

do you know this website?

It's a British book author who wrote a book that came out in 2007. I just started reading it and I think it's a terrific resource!