How to create a family adventure

Find buried treasure, search for fairies or create your own science lab. Have an adventure in your own backyard while educating and intriguing your children. Summer is coming. Will you spend it watching TV or journaling your latest adventure?

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  • "Grandma, Grandma! It’s a treasure map!" Those are the words my grandson shouted as he ran to find me. Little did he know he was on a planned adventure.

  • Adventure exists in many of our children's stories. Christmas is fun, leprechauns leave us gold on St. Patrick's Day and magic is created when a tooth is placed under a pillow. However, magic is not reserved for holidays and lost teeth. Magic is all around us allowing us to bring our families closer together and help establish memories that will last a lifetime.

  • As a family, we believe in fun. We love reading to each other, sharing a good story around a bonfire and creating magical memories. A while back when Pirate movies were popular, they just happened to be on my grandson's mind when he discovered his map. Here is how we created an adventure to be enjoyed by my grandson and everyone who joined him on his journey.

  • Set up a treasure hunt

  • Create a treasure

  • Load an old jewelry box with broken bits of jewelry and a collection of coins (thrift stores are great for this). It doesn't have to be expensive, just fun. If you don't have a convincing treasure chest, try painting an old jewelry box gold.

  • Bury your treasure

  • Bury your box some place safe and off the beaten path within walking distance of your home or location.

  • Create an adventure

  • As you retrace your steps home, look for landmarks and count your steps. Use this information to create a treasure map.

  • Make a map

  • Use a dry brown marker on the inside of a brown paper bag. Tear the edges. Crumple the paper over and over again, until it is soft like leather. Soak old twine in vanilla or dark tea and let it dry to give it an antiquated look. Then roll your map up and tie it with the twine.

  • Hide your map

  • We placed our map in an old roll top desk that was in the room my grandson was staying in. When he asked about it we said, "It just appeared." He immediately concluded that it belonged to pirates, you may need to lead your child’s imagination with a good story. I had an old spy glass and some nautical decorations that I left on the roll top desk for effect. He was poking around in it when he pulled down the roll top and the map conveniently fell out.

  • Find your treasure

  • Be prepared to follow your child. When your child finds the map, have a shovel, flashlight and camera ready. We laid two sticks in an "x" on top of the treasures location. He exclaimed, "X marks the spot!" before he started to dig. He still talks about it several years later.

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  • Fairy Magic

  • Set the stage

  • . The following year, before the family visited, Grandpa installed Fairy Doors. He put one in the garden at the base of a tree, with a small bridge spanning a part of our backyard fountain. Then he put a second door under a desk in the room where the grandkids sleep.

  • Inform parents

  • Erin told her daughter, Haley that when she was little they found fairies at Grandma's. You knew the fairy had been there when you found strawberry tops. Fairies love to eat chocolate chips and strawberry tops.

  • Catch the children's interest

  • Leave a strawberry top and chocolate chip trail. Let the children find the fairy doors by themselves. Our children spend hours setting traps and hunting fairies. Grandpa is constantly eating chocolate chips and strawberries when no one is looking. This is one way of letting the children believe that fairies have come to dine.

  • How to create your own adventure

  • Watch for your children's interests. Find a story, movie or sport that is meaningful to them and use the elements of the story to create an adventure. If your child is fascinated with bugs, learn about them and then create your own science lab complete with an ant farm. Get involved in their interests, even if they are imaginary.

  • Play is a fantastic way to connect with your child. Through play you can learn what excites or worries them and what favorite stories they enjoy. Use what you learn to create your own backyard adventure.

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Shannon and Erin are a mother and daughter with lots of children and Utah and Oregon roots.

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