Those long, beautiful summer days are coming to an end, and like every mom out there, you’re dreading two things. The first is helping your child transition from lazy summer schedules to regimented school days, and the second can be described in three words: school supply shopping.

Sure, maybe there are some moms out there who count down the days until school supply shopping with anticipation. But for most of us, especially if we’ll be shopping along with our kids, shopping for school supplies is about as exciting as attempting to toilet train twins and housebreak a dog at the same time.

Not fun.

But why can’t it be? A school supply scavenger hunt is the perfect way to not only cross all the items off your supply list, but also to help your child transition from summertime into the new school year. Two for the price of one, practically. Sort of.

Don’t believe us? Here’s how you can turn a dreaded chore into a fun back-to-school activity.

School Supply Scavenger Hunt - (cool) progeny

school supplies scavenger hunt

Illustrated Lists. If your child is a preschooler or slightly older, just compile a list of images that matches the school supplies she needs. There are actually plenty of illustrated school supply lists online, but you can also create your own picture lists using clip art or your own artistic talent. Challenge her to see if she can find every single item on her list without help (but give her some hints, tactfully, if she needs them).

School Supply Scavenger Hunt - (cool) progeny

School Supply Scavenger Hunt - (cool) progeny

Word List Competition. Once your child can read, you can use an actual list of supplies for your scavenger hunt. You can have siblings compete against each other or invite a friend on the hunt to create some competition. Alternatively, give your child a time limit to beat; if he succeeds, you can buy him one extra inexpensive school supply of his choice.

Price Comparison. Want to teach your kids some budgeting skills? Challenge them to make the smartest choices in buying their school supplies. The catch? They get to keep the difference between the more expensive choice and the cheaper one – assuming they opt for the cheaper one. Would they rather buy the cool folders that cost twice the price, or would they rather keep the money that they’ll save? A great way to teach kids about money and priorities.

Rhyming Clues. Got it, you don’t think your child would be motivated enough by a simple word list. Instead, channel your own inner poet and create some rhyming clues for your child to follow. Here’s some inspiration to get you started:

“Class projects are lots of fun, it’s true. So you’ll need to stick things together with ____.” (glue)

“You’ll need to keep your papers in this, Supply Finder. Make sure to get a 2-inch wide, three-ringed ______.” (binder)

“Your teacher will have plenty of toys for you to play on, But you’ll want to color pictures with an pack of 8 _____.” (crayons)

Guess the Aisle. Another great life skill for kids to learn is how to navigate a store. Stand at the front of the store and challenge your child to decide which aisle each item on your list should be in, based on the store’s aisle signs. Then shop each aisle and keep track of how many she got right.

School Supply Scavenger Hunt - (cool) progeny

No matter which version you choose, make sure to keep things fun and stress-free. This will probably be your child’s first connection to the new school year, so creating fun memories can go a long way towards giving your child a positive attitude towards learning. Or maybe it will give you a positive attitude towards school supply shopping.

Okay, maybe not.


Photographs by Laura Black