When I was little one of my most fun baby sitters would play a game with us called “Hide the paperclip.” I can’t say that I remember a ton of the other things that we did, but I have always remembered playing hide the paperclip… I can even vividly remember finding that little paperclip on the top of the chair rail in our kitchen! Playing hide the paper clip was so fun for me, and when I was developing these activities I thought using the concept of hiding an object would be a great problem solving activity.
The most important part of making this fun is hiding the star in an appropriate location for your child. If it’s too hard they will lose interest and not give it a second thought. It also may take you demonstrating to them what you want them to do, because keep in mind hide and seek is a new concept to them.
When I do this activity I start super easy. I have my kids cover their eyes and put it somewhere that they find it right away. This way they get that excited “I did it!” feeling, and want to try again. Then, I make it a tiny bit harder each time. For a young child, it might be as simple as barely hiding the star under a nearby toy, or under the edge of the blanket with part of it sticking out. As kids get older, you might set it on a table next to the sofa, or on the toy shelf. Make sure you are really encouraging as they look for the star, and excited when they find it. This will help them stay engaged in the activity, but once they catch on they will want to keep going. My kids didn’t want to stop!
Let’s talk about what things are going on here:
This activity is all about problem solving. The star is missing where could it be? How many times in the day do we do this without even realizing it. Somewhere along the way, we developed the ability to find something by considering all the places the missing object might be and sticking with it even though it gets a little frustrating. In a simpler sense this is what your child is doing. Where among all of the things in my house could this star be hiding? Then, just like us they gradually test their ideas by looking in certain places that it could be hidden. They will certainly fail at times when they check a spot and it’s not there, but with our encouragement and simple hints, they will learn skills to stick with a difficult task and accomplish what they are trying to do.
My son took some turns hiding the star too, and he kept wanting to put the star back where I had originally hidden it. It’s ok if your child wants to hide the object right back where you had it, because it is a new concept to them. Over time, with repetition of this activity, they will start to understand why it needs to be hidden somewhere else. Big sister had fun playing along with us too! She’s trying to convince him to find a new hiding spot.