Monday, March 26, 2012

How to Plan an Easter Egg Hunt Without a Brawl

Family East Egg Hunt © Katrena
Ah...Spring is in the air and the Easter season is fast approaching. Many churches, schools, community recreation programs, gyms, and others may be offering egg hunts.

I remember Easter egg hunts well when I was a kid. We lived very near the elementary school, and the whole school class would come over toting milk jug Easter baskets filled with green plastic grass. Everyone would have a blast hunting eggs in our yard. Mom loves to tell the story of the little boy who said he was done hunting eggs long before the others. Upon further probing, he said "I can't eat any more!" That was before plastic eggs became the norm for hunts!

Tips for a Fun Egg Hunt © Katrena
A mom of three children, I've been to my share of hunts. I've seen a lot of pushing, shoving, hair-pulling, ear-biting, foot-stomping, nose-tweaking, name-calling, and worse at hunts....and that's not even mentioning the behavior of the kids. Sometimes my kids have emerged from an egg hunt looking like they participated in a heated hockey game with about four and a half plastic eggs, a chipped tooth, and holes in both knees of their pants. Well, perhaps I am exaggerating just a bit, but some hunts have been anything but enjoyable.

Egg hunts can be as simple as hiding several plastic eggs in the living room or as extravagant as dropping 1,000 eggs from a helicopter or hiding glow-in-the-dark eggs in a swimming pool after dark. Any egg hunt can be fun and entertaining, but they can also be disastrous and even dangerous.

How to Plan an Easter Egg Hunt © Katrena
Before the Hunt

It helps to have plenty of eggs for the anticipated crowd as well as supplies for any related programs such as crafts, refreshments, educational program, story time, photo opportunities, etc. If separating the hunting areas by age, mark boundaries and hide the eggs according to developmental levels.

Decide whether or not you wish to hide surprises in the eggs...one of my favorites when I was a kid was the local American Legion hunt where each egg had a quarter inside. A preschool teacher wrote each child's name on two eggs and they had an extra small hunt in which they could only pick up the eggs with their names – that was a great, unique way to encourage newly developed reading skills. Some churches may place various symbols inside plastic eggs to help kids to learn about Jesus' death and resurrection.

Be careful if placing edible treats in the Easter eggs – many children have food allergies or sensitivities and some foods may be a choking hazard for the youngest kids. It can be a real drag for the kids to have lots of treats that they cannot eat, and it can be a disaster to have to rush a child to the emergency department that is experiencing a severe allergic reaction to a particular treat. An alternative might be to place notes, verses, or stickers inside the eggs.

Have extra bags or baskets available for any children who arrive without one. Ensure that restrooms are adequately stocked and in good working order and that plenty of trash receptacles and bags are available. Inspect all areas to ensure they are clean and free of any hazards.

If advertising the hunt, ensure that all information is correct and complete. Is the hunt accessible for children with special needs or handicaps? If so, that is good information to place in an advertisement.

How to Enjoy an Easter Egg Hunt Without the Drama © Katrena
During the Hunt

Many problems with egg hunts occur when everyone simply lines up and the race begins as soon as the person in charge says "Go!" That style basically calls for survival of the fittest, fastest, and often the rudest. Decide what type of rules you plan to have for the hunt and ensure that everyone is aware of the expectations before beginning, being careful not to turn the directions into something of a dissertation that completely sucks all the excitement out of the moment.

Separating hunting areas for different age groups will at least give the youngest kids a better chance to at least find some eggs without being trampled. Younger children who are timid may be more comfortable if a caregiver can walk with them. Children who tend to be aggressive may be a bit more subdued if accompanied by a helpful adult. If allowing adults to accompany the children, it may be helpful to remind them to let the kids discover the hiding places before starting.

Sometimes Easter egg hunts seem to be over in about five minutes. There are many ways to make the hunt a bit more challenging and to extend the fun of the hunt. You might combine a hunt with school-related skills in which the kids have to answer questions in order to earn a certain number or color of eggs. Adding a scavenger hunt component can challenge kids to use problem-solving skills.

Have a back-up plan. If the hunt was intended to be outdoors, is there a way to move the hunt indoors? Our local library does a great job with an indoor Easter egg hunt in the library. If more children appear than expected, consider limiting the number of eggs that each child can pick up so that everyone has a chance to find some.

Egg Hunt That is Fun for Everyone © Katrena
After the Hunt

When I do a simple hunt at the house, I try to count all the eggs before hiding them to ensure that we haven't left any behind when we gather them at the end. If not, I usually find one when I mow or do a major cleaning project in the house. For larger hunts, it is helpful to recruit volunteers to assist with clean up at the end.

Afterwards, it can be helpful to step back and evaluate what went well and what might be improved for next year. Some ideas may work better than others depending on the ages and size of the group, but with careful planning hopefully everyone will go home with great memories of the Easter egg hunt.

You may also wish to check out my easier Easter Scavenger Hunt With Rhyming Clues to my more challenging Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt that will challenge some of the older kids while providing an opportunity to learn more about the biblical account of Easter. Find more of my articles, including printables and scavenger hunt clues, at the Wildflower Bouquets site map.

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