Orienteering in the Backyard – How To

So, summer’s here. Time to put the kids through their paces… or is it the other way around?

Wake up! It’s 6:30 already! Where’s the scavenger hunt you promised?

– Emelie, 7

Orienteering, or scavenger hunts, is a great way to entertain kids, and teach them about spacial skills at the same time. Knowing how to read a map, and relate maps to the real world is a skill they’ll use their entire lives, even though they’ll have a GPS or phone telling them where to go. After all, there plenty of examples where people follow their GPS and drive into a lake

I got out of bed, and constructed a simple ‘hunt’ for the kids. Simple way to get them outside while we prep breakfast, finish waking up, and drink some coffee.

I used a few tools in my arsenal. Orienteering uses pretty highly detailed maps, but our backyard adventure tapped into Google Maps for the satellite image, and then I used Skitch to overlay the controls. Controls are where the clues are… in this case, I used some Red Tags (easy to spot) and noted the letter for the clue on each card.

Today’s code word was IRONMAN, and each control held a letter. I plan on re-using the control cards for many more rounds, and added the date for the letter as well. Tomorrow’s clues are already made (by just adding the next set of letters on each card once I picked them back up), and all I have to do is place the controls, make a quick map, and the kids are off again.

Making the map using Skitch is super simple. Start with a screen grab, then use the cool overlay symbols in Skitch (I used the Heart) for control locations, then export and print.

Ok, that’s enough to get you started. Off you go! Psst…. don’t tell, but the next clue is my cousin… BLACKWIDOW

There’s more…

Emelie demonstrates how to rotate the map as she turns: