It’s almost Easter! I remember Easter being one of my favorite holidays as a kid. I would wake up to an overflowing basket of candy next to my bed, decorated with ribbons and smelling like chocolate. Immediately following, I would get straight to the hunt. Eggs had been hidden all around the house and outside in the front and backyard and my challenge was to find them ALL. After this, I would indulge in a scrumptious breakfast of eggs, bacon, orange juice, and cinnamon rolls. This tradition lasted until I was about 9 at which time I still appreciated an Easter Basket, but wasn’t excited to do the egg hunt.
In our Otter Clan Homeschool class this past Tuesday, we recreated the idea of an egg hunt but added a couple challenging components that made it a blast for the kids ages 8 – 11. The first was using essential oils and the second was using maps. Below I have outlined the activity in a few easy steps and have included a couple variations. It’s also great to adapt this activity for birthday parties any time of year.
In this activity, two teams are given a set of one to five eggs (eggs can also be replaced with round stones if you don’t have eggs or are doing it at another time of year) and a boundary in which to hide them. A different essential oil is drizzled on each egg. After each team hides their eggs, they draw maps (using the four cardinal directions as a guide) and they label where the eggs are hidden on the map. Each team then trades their maps and searches for the eggs. Alternately, you can be the only hider and draw the map for your child. Once they find them they must place the eggs in front of the matching essential oil.
Setting the stage
Get the kids excited about the idea of creating a treasure map and searching for treasure. Ask them if they are ready to put their skills to the test and see if they can successfully hide their treasure, draw their map, and find the other team’s treasure.
Prepare the eggs by applying one or two drops of essential oil onto them. Handle the essential oils yourself so that the children do not apply them directly to their skin. Advise kids not to touch the surface where the essential oils were applied or wrap them in a cloth so the children do not get the oils directly on their skin. You can also dilute the oils using a non-scented oil such as sunflower or safflower. If using stones and hiding them outside, be sure to wrap a piece of string or yarn around them to make it clear they are treasures.
Orient the kids to the four directions. Depending on their level of experience, you may offer them compasses to help them navigate and create their maps. Help them draw a basic map of their surroundings before you set them loose to hide their eggs and label them on the map. Hide a treasure with the entire group and show them where you would label it on the map to give them an idea of how to think in terms of two dimensional navigation.
During the Activity
Make sure the boundaries of the two teams do not overlap and provide sufficient privacy from the opposing team. The eggs should be in plain view of someone walking by the area, so make sure teams do not hide eggs completely. Keep an eye on both teams during the activity to make sure they are labeling accurately on their maps.
At the end of the activity, teams trade maps and search for the treasure. Once they find each egg they must bring it to where the essential oils are lined up. They then place the egg in front of the essential oil they believe is a match. Once all the eggs are found and placed in front of the oils, each team checks to see if the other team got the eggs in the right order. It is not a game to determine which team gets more right or wrong; the goal of the activity is to engage the sense of smell as a direct route to important information.
This well-rounded game combines the excitement for Easter, the thrill of a treasure hunt, teamwork, and the therapeutic properties of essential oils into one fluid process. Hiding and seeking is a natural urge in children; it’s an evolutionary throwback to our ancestral need for hunting and gathering as a means of survival. Adding the component of the map takes it a step further and challenges them to develop their spatial awareness and map drawing skills. It also attunes them to the four directions which is an essential component of navigation.
This game encourages cooperation and working as a team. Kids get excited to revel in the knowledge of their secret treasure locations. Bonding occurs naturally.
Using essential oils is one of my favorite things to do in outdoor activities. Each scent has a different effect on the mind and mood of people, particularly children. Always check with parents to see if kids have allergies to particular oils. For instance, despite it’s amazing health benefits, tee tree oil is known to cause allergic reactions in a high percentage of the population. In this activity, kids are not supposed to apply essential oils directly onto their skin, but rather smell them on the egg. The aromas not only have a therapeutic effect on the participants, they also challenge the kids to exercise a sense that otherwise does not get much conscious attention. Exercising the senses in this way gets kids playfully engaged with the surrounding world and can bring them into a heightened state of presence.
We hope you enjoy this activity and please tell us how it goes!
Hope to connect soon,