A to Z Scavenge

The Pocket Scavenger Inspires Creativity … and a Contest

Books Events Geek Culture Hacking the Holidays
Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts are a great way to encourage kids to be aware of their surroundings.

On a wonderful evening in the park, my kids and their friends embarked on a challenge. Breaking into teams of two, they raced around slides and over streams searching for objects starting with each letter of the alphabet. Once found, each team snapped a digital picture of the representative object and then hunted for the next letter. After all 26 were accounted for, we compared our collections and determined who won the race.

All of this activity came about after paging through Keri Smith’s latest journal offering, The Pocket Scavenger. You and your kids can have a chance to win a copy of Smith’s book, plus a matching smartphone app, by conducting a scavenger hunt of your own (see below).

Smith is the creator of Wreck This Journal, much-loved additions to each of our kids’ bookshelves (even in their warped and soiled state). The author grants an irreverent license to physically interact with her book in ways traditional journals would not. Other offerings by Smith—such as Finish This Book and This Is Not a Book—are equally effective at empowering kids’ creativity.

The same is true of The Pocket Scavenger. Each page prompts a scavenger hunt to find a different item from a list of 72 things. The owner of the journal is encouraged to capture not only the object but the story about where and how it was found. This geeky journal goes further, though, by challenging the reader to use the item as creative material in some random way, such as adding polka dots or inspiring a soundtrack. Smith pushes kids (and adults) to break convention by seeing the world as inspiration, rather than simply “things.”

A companion to the book is a $5 smartphone app available for iPhone and Android. The digital version takes advantage of the things computers do well to lower barriers to action and amplify the social aspects of the activity.

Prompted to hunt for a random item, you can capture time and location automatically when recording the details of the find. The suggested alteration is also random, although you are able to browse through prompts to find one that fits the scavenge. A digital photo can be added, and the record of the hunt can then be shared with others on Twitter and Facebook. The location information for the scavenges can be used to discover other activity going on around you.

Filling all of those pages takes longer than an afternoon in the park. Smith does include some one-off themed challenges (such as an alphabet scavenge) that are great for groups with some time constraints. Our own A-to-Z scavenger hunt drew from some things Smith suggests, but our rules were altered to fit the interests of those involved.

A to Z Scavenge
Keri Smith’s The Pocket Scavenger inspired a family alphabet hunt.

Geek Dad Scavenge Challenge

On your next long walk through a nearby park this week, find eleven items (all good geeks go to eleven) and use those materials to construct an ideal “Geek Dad.” You can use glue, duct tape or other means of affixing these parts to each other, but all eleven pieces must be visible in the final creation. In keeping with the spirit of the book, encourage your kids to write down their story of how they came to each find, or create a backstory for the object itself.

After you finish, tweet a picture of your Geek Dad creation using the hashtag #GeekScavenge by July 5 for a chance to win a copy of The Pocket Scavenger book and app. You can also upload your picture to Facebook or Flickr using the same #GeekScavenge tag.

A winner will be selected by the publishers on July 6 from any tagged entries and announced through @wreckthistwit.

Geek Dad Scavenger Hunt
Challenge: Find eleven items, and use those materials to construct a “Geek Dad.”
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