If your child loves Lewis Carroll's classic children's book "Alice in Wonderland" or the Disney movie version, consider organizing a Wonderland-themed scavenger hunt for her and her friends. This could be part of a birthday or holiday celebration if you like, or it could be a more elaborate group play date or general party. It also pairs up well with a tea party event, Mad Hatter style.
You can let every child search solo, but it also might be fun to organize participants into two teams. Give the teams whimsical names such as "Alice in Wonderland" versus "Through the Looking Glass" or "Tweedledum" versus "Tweedledee." Smaller children or non-competitive types might prefer to try the scavenger hunt all as a single group, with everyone helping and no "opponent," only a shared goal. If you organize into teams, be sure to balance the age and experience levels on each team so that no team has an advantage over the other in solving the scavenger hunt riddles.
What to Look For
Tiny items invoke Alice's size-changing adventures, so consider using small keys, a doll's tea set, a tiny pocket watch and other miniature objects for the scavenger hunt. Items intended for doll houses or play kitchens are perfect. Other items of use in an Alice in Wonderland treasure hunt include mushrooms, cookies and small bottles labeled "eat me" and "drink me," a fan and gloves, croquet balls and playing cards from the heart suit. Don't forget the lawn flamingos. Figurines of major characters such as the Dodo, the Cheshire Cat and the Mad Hatter can also be used, as can note cards or prints of artwork from the books.
Where to Look
You can start your scavenger hunt either indoors or outdoors, depending on the weather, available space and similar considerations. If you do it in a public place such as a park, however, you run the risk of non-participants discovering your hidden treasures first. Be sure to vary the difficulty of the hiding places so that younger and older children have an equal chance of success in the treasure hunt. Hide items high, low, and everywhere in between, and don't forget to hide a few treasures in plain sight for the younger kids.
Give young children a list of Alice in Wonderland treasures to look for -- no need to get complicated. Older children, however, may enjoy getting their clues in the form of riddles, since riddles are central to the "Alice in Wonderland" experience. Some of the riddles can be as nonsensical as Alice's "how is a raven like a writing desk?" but the rest should aim for whimsical but solvable. Don't forget about the Mad Hatter's riddles as you work to incorporate fun clues into the treasure hunt. Whether you use riddles or a list of items, remember to keep your own list of where items are hidden so that you can provide additional clues if your group runs into trouble with the scavenger hunt.
If you want to give a prize at the end of the scavenger hunt, consider something in the shape of the white rabbit, after which poor Alice spent most of the book chasing. Another possibility is a heart-shaped tart in honor of the Queen of Hearts and her court that you will share among all the participants, of course. A goody bag might include decks of cards, cat ears, cookies or small balls. Whatever the prize, make sure there is enough for everyone so that all of your treasure hunters end the party with happy memories.
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- The Annotated Alice: Lewis Carroll, Martin Gardner et. al.
Lori A. Selke has been a professional writer and editor for more than 15 years, touching on topics ranging from LGBT issues to sexuality and sexual health, parenting, alternative health, travel, and food and cooking. Her work has appeared in Curve Magazine, Girlfriends, Libido, The Children's Advocate, Decider.com, The SF Weekly, EthicalFoods.com and GoMag.com.