What? When? Where? How? Hunt!

Go on a scavenger hunt to inspire children’s thinking about ideas like big versus small. Ask: Where is it? What does it look like? How long does it take? How many are there? How does it feel? The answers to these questions are known as “basic concepts.” Asking questions about basic concepts helps children learn new words, follow instructions, do math, and communicate with others.

Click here to save this activity with instructions, additional pages, and a create-your-own-hunt page to your phone or computer.

Prep It

Nothing is required for this activity, but we’ve created a handy guide you can print or save to your phone to help lead the game!

Play It

Go on a scavenger hunt for words that a describe what, when, where, and how – ideas called “basic concepts.” Anywhere you go- home, outside, on a bus ride, the store- search for these ideas, or “concepts.”

Look for things that are:

  • Big, small
  • Open, closed
  • Noisy, quiet
  • Empty, full
  • Heavy, light
  • Hot, cold
  • Behind something, in front of something
  • Above something, under something
  • Hard, soft
  • Asleep, awake
  • Curvy, straight
  • Near, far away
  • Happy, Sad
  • Front, Back
  • Above, Below
It is very important to start with just one concept at a time!

Use everyday objects (like a child’s favorite toy)

Try playing “I-Spy” with one or two concepts before going on a scavenger hunt for them. (“I spy something… big!”)

Make sure the objects are very different (small versus big could be shown using a marble and a beach ball)

Search for concepts in a variety of places throughout the day

Search for concepts while children create (“That tower must be heavy!”)
Sometimes hunt for concepts out of order, without their pairs

Hunt for one or two concepts at a time in as many places as possible

Look for concepts in images in books and media

Look for the written word in titles, signs, billboards, song lyrics, and in stories

Compare objects of the same concept (heavy, heavier, heaviest)
Look for where concepts are in written text, especially when they’re not explicitly stated (skyscrapers are big; smart cars are small)

Have children create their own scavenger hunt lists of other concepts they experience every day