egg hunt

This Easter will be devoid of public egg hunts, but parents still can give their little ones a bit of a search for eggs and goodies.

Staging a hunt in the back yard can be a little dicey this time of year, since Mother Nature is still handing us some chilly temperatures. Keeping the search indoors is a little easier, but can be a little lackluster.

Years ago, when our son was small, going to the local egg hunt was fun but come Easter morning, we wanted to give him something special - a basket of goodies tailored to him. And rather than just handing it to him, we wanted to, well, make him work for it a little.

Back then, he was a big fan of the Redwall books by Brian Jacques. (I believe he still is, as am I.)

For those unfamiliar with the series, it involves good, kind woodland creatures who face forces of evil in the form of nasty, disreputable animals. Think mice, moles, hares, squirrels and the like facing off against ferrets, wolverines, rats and other despicable creatures.

Each book (which can be read in any order) involves a few of the good guys being sent off on a quest of some sort and others having to decipher word puzzles or riddles leading to an answer that helps solve a problem or tells where the quest will lead.

We incorporated the quest part into our egg hunts.

To replicate such a hunt, a parent (or grandparent, older sibling, etc.) has to be a bit organized with the egg-hiding part. It also helps to be able to write corny rhymes and slightly baffling clues. At least one child involved also should be old enough to read or at least be good at reasoning out clues.

For starters, assemble a bunch of plastic eggs and whatever goodies you’re going to place inside them.

Chocolate candies, bubble gum, candy-covered Easter eggs, jelly beans, small candy bars, little boxes of raisins or plastic-wrapped cookies all work well. If you’re worried about the kids overloading on sweets, hair ties, small toys, erasers or other egg-sized items are appreciated, too.

Next, write out clues on small strips of paper. Decide where you will hide each egg and write a clue for one egg on a slip of paper that will go in the previous egg. The idea is to take the child on a quest through the house, with the final clue leading to the hidden basket or a special toy or other treat.

(Dyed hard-boiled eggs would work, but the clues would have to be taped on or attached with a rubber band.)

The first egg, containing the first clue, goes in a very obvious place, out in the open, where the child is sure to find it.

Let’s say the second egg will be hidden under the recliner in the living room. On the paper that goes in egg No. 1, you might write, “The second will be hiding under the place where Dad falls asleep after dinner.”

When the child locates the egg under the chair, that egg will contain the clue to the third egg’s location. Say egg No. 3 is hidden in the (cold) oven. The clue might read “I start out and also van. I’m in the middle of bed and always end a yawn.”

From that, the child might ponder a bit and then conclude that O starts out and V is the start of van. E is the middle letter in bed and N comes at the end of yawn. Thus, OVEN.

The clues and eggs can go on for as many rhymes as you can think up. The more clues and eggs, the longer the quest - and the more fun.

Clues can be made harder for older children.

If there are multiple youngsters, you could have them work together. Just provide enough small goodies in each egg for each child to have one. Or you could put a clue but no goodies in each egg, all leading to the final basket. Or you might do a set of clues for each kid, with a different colored egg assigned to each child.

No matter what, each child should find a special treat of his or her own at the end of the hunt.

We’ve been known to hide eggs in the oven, under the piano, in the bathtub, inside kitchen cabinets, in the toaster oven, under the sink, behind the TV and in the freezer.

The hunts were always a hit, and they continued well into his teenage years. (Older kids appreciate finding candy in their eggs, but coins or dollar bills also are popular.)

We know the hunts left an impression - our son’s now a teacher and every year (except, sadly, this year) he sends at least one of his classes on a similar hunt with clues only in the eggs and a bag of goodies, to be divided, as the final prize.

Have a happy, quest-ful Easter!

Dee Camp is a reporter for The Chronicle. Email her at dcamp@omakchronicle.com.

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