It’s not Easter yet, but driving home today I saw a sign and yellow “stay away” tape in front of the neighborhood basketball courts.
Not sure what came over me when I saw it, but I let out an audible chortle, or laugh, as I looked beyond the sign. There were plastic eggs in the grass, across the basketball court, and hanging from leafless and needle-less bushes.
I actually stopped to take photos at 2:20 p.m., 10 minutes before start, since the evidence of the egg hunt would no doubt quickly be lost.
What happened to the “hunt” in Easter Egg Hunt? This was no hunt. This was a plastic egg grab and go!
As I think about this, the laughter subsides to a secret sadness for what could be a great opportunity for team building, suspense, and performance. Oh, yes, and a meaningful memory.
When I was young my Mom truly made us “hunt” down the Easter egg baskets. Perhaps it was her way of keeping eight kids busy for a while, but it truly was a fun event. I think we actually looked forward to the hunt more than the Easter egg baskets at the end!
Easter Egg Hunt Methodology
Let’s break down what my Mom did to figure out why most of my brothers and sisters still talk about it!
Don’t hold it on Easter
First of all, we always had the Easter Egg Hunt on the Saturday before Easter Sunday. Why? The Easter holiday isn’t centered around a bunny. It holds deep religious meaning. In the learning profession we know how important it is to not confuse the learner with different icons or anchor ideas. Holding our Easter Egg Hunt on Saturdays clearly separated these two icons (and events) in our young minds – bunnies and egg hunts on Saturday, religious observance of Easter on Sunday.
Make them hunt!
There were no freebies at our house. No obvious plastic eggs dangling from barren trees. No plastic eggs sitting in the middle of the driveway. No marshmallow bunnies sticking out of the grass.
No, we actually had to hunt for the prize – the grand stash of Easter baskets filled with candy and trinkets!
As children, we wouldn’t have had it any other way. It was a game and there was a great prize. Note: There were never any tears with this approach. Everyone knew there was a basket for them at the end vs. the run and grab events where the slowest come back with nothing.
Create a roadmap for the hunt
Hunting for the Easter baskets wasn’t a free for all run around the house and lawn. It consisted of a series of clues that eventually lead us to the prize.
My mother (and perhaps my father) would create these clues, until some of us got older and wanted to be involved in the planning process.
Each clue would contain a little poem or rhyme which forced us to think about where the next clue would be hidden. Each clue was hidden in a plastic egg.
Once we found a clue we’d read it over and over and talk (yell?) amongst ourselves to figure out the hidden message. Then we’d run! Run like crazy to see if we could be the first to find the next clue!
Divide into teams
Ok, we had eight kids in our family. This was easy – divide into two teams of four. Both teams had their own set of clues that lead to their own Easter baskets. So, we were racing to find our own baskets, but also racing to find them faster than the other team.
This was great fun! The younger children were paired with the older children so the older children could help them through the game.
We always thought we would find the others stash before our own, but it never happened. My mom was strategic like that!
Only have one or two children? Pair up with the neighbors or other friends to create teams.
Make it easy and…hard
When you’ve got that many children involved, there is bound to be discrepancies in abilities. It has to be easy enough for some of the younger kids to guess one of the clues and hard enough to keep the older children (mentors) engaged in the game. De-motivating any of the participants isn’t part of the plan.
Our hunt included the easy and hard clues. If it was an easy clue, the older kids caught on and allowed the younger children to figure it out. If it was a hard clue, the older kids would discuss and then lead the rest of the group to the next clue – often carrying one of the younger ones to get there quicker!
It wasn’t just the clues that made it easy and hard. Some of the clues were hidden in various parts of the house, some in the yard, others in the car, or even on a willing neighbors property!
Tevya, from Fiddler on the Roof, might not have been and Easter egg hunt fan, but he did love traditions!
The Easter Egg Hunt was a tradition. Each year the stories and excitement were shared with those that hadn’t participated in the prior year. The strategies evolved for those that were serious about upping their game. The excitement of becoming one of the “clue creators” changed players roles, but allowed them to still be involved in some way. It made it “safe” for a teenager to stay involved in the hunt and actually be cool.
Put the hunt back into the event
It’s time to put the hunt back into the Easter Egg Hunt, the classroom, the online learning, and the on the job training. With all of the focus on getting the verbiage in the objectives right, we sometimes just put all the info out there a bit too perfectly. Like the eggs out on the basketball court, we spout it all out and make it easy to grab, consume and leave. Nothing lost, nothing gained?
What if we switched it up just a bit each time – create clues that lead to other clues, encourage teamwork and mentoring, make it easy and make it hard, and include interested learners in the planning process.