How to keep your kids entertained for hours for just a dollar each

My lovely wife is out doing last minute Christmas shopping and I’m home with the kids. While it would certainly be easy to just let them play video games all day, I like to challenge them to look beyond their surroundings and think. To do that, requires a fun puzzle, and I’ve been doing this one for a couple of years and they love it. In fact they love it so much that they requested I do it again this morning.

I’ve dubbed it “Moneyhunt”, which is a variation on a treasure hunt, and it is simple and easy for me, but for them, not so much… and that’s the attraction that gets them off the computer games and using skills of observation. I thought it worth sharing, so here’s how I do it.

What I do is take a selection of loose change, typically $1 exactly for each child, and hide it around the house in places that they’d never think to look. I also make good use of camouflage as shown in the picture below:

moneyhunt

The trick is to place coins in places that aren’t on regular household surfaces, and to put shiny coins of like diameter on shiny objects that hide them. Darker coins like old pennies go into nooks on darker furniture. Making the coin look like part of the object is key to making it challenging.

I also put coins on top of doorknobs, tape them to the sides and bottoms of tables, and put them in the sea of refrigerator magnets with double sided sticky tape and a small magnet.

I’m still trying to figure out how to hide money on Tubbycat without waking him up:

tubbycat

By making sure you know the exact amount of coinage (in today’s case $2) the kids know just by counting the coins they have collected if they found them all. That last penny is usually particularly frustrating.

If you aren’t a parent, this little game works great for grandparents too.

Next year, since Al Gore’s warmer cronies say I’m apparently flush with cash reaching into the billions, I’m going to put out pure gold and silver coins and hide some gold bullion in the freezer. /sarc Yeah, that should be fun.

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76 Responses to How to keep your kids entertained for hours for just a dollar each

  1. phlogiston says:

    Thanks, I’ll try it with our girls. We do a similar thing at Easter with chocolate eggs. Coins will offer more placement possibilities.

  2. Mike Jowsey says:

    Great idea, thanks. Merry Christmas Anthony.

  3. DB says:

    If you aren’t a parent, this little game works great for grandparents too.

    Are you saying Grandparents would enjoy looking for the coins, too?

  4. FijiDave says:

    Merry Christmas to you and yours, Anthony!

    A big thank you to you, and your contributors, for a sterling effort during the year.

    Cheers

  5. Rob says:

    Let us know if they find any of that heat that is hiding in mysterious places. Merry Christmas to your family from the Great White North otherwise known as Canada.

  6. Fumblefoot says:

    I know a solo variant called ‘Where are my bloody keys?’. Its addictive, I play at least once a week whether I want to or not.

  7. UK Sceptic says:

    Have none of the kids taught Kenji how to sniff out the coins?

    Merry Christmas.

  8. Bryan A says:

    While hiding coinage on Tubbycat might proove difficult, His existance does prove that your household contains FatCats. I would avoid the Washer/Dryer too because you don’t want to be accused of Money Laundering FatCat funds

    Have a Merry Christmas

  9. TinyCO2 says:

    Love it :-)

    When my nephew and niece were young, I put their few presents in huge box with lots of similar empty parcels or ones with silly household items. Then I made them do puzzles (cut out from a cheap book of them) and answer questions. If they got the test right they got to dive for a present. If the parcel was for the other one they had to put it back. It took all day and recently my nephew said he planned to do the same for his own kids (if he ever has them) because they were the best Christmases he remembers.

    You don’t have to spend a lot to make the best memories.

  10. Tim Walker says:

    Great idea. I’ll have to try it out.

  11. Grandma says:

    Great game! I’ll hide the coins now for my grandchildren. Oh, what fun before dinner. Thank You!
    Merry Christmas

  12. First you have to get them to turn off their cell phones.

    I invented a cell phone with a mechanical on/off switch. You simply toggle the switch to the off position and it immediately cuts the battery power to the phone. It also prevents the NSA from spying on you and stops people from bothering you.

    Look for my new cell phone feature I invented on store shelves next year.

  13. John says:

    Wish the grand kids were closer.

  14. Schrodinger's Cat says:

    I play that game several times a day with my reading glasses.
    Thank you for providing such a great blog, Anthony and very best wishes to you and your family.

    Happy Christmas to all.

  15. Stuart Elliot says:

    Used to do something similar at Easter, using foreign language clues and dictionaries to tell the kids where the next clue and Easter egg could be found. The starting point would feature the Japanese word for refrigerator or bathroom or whatever and the kids would go there, get the next word (might be in German), look it up while collecting the egg, on to the next location and so forth.

    Merry Christmas to all and warm thanks to our fine host here.

  16. Tom J says:

    Merry Christmas!

  17. Eyal Porat says:

    Great idea! I will recommend to my friends (no small children – thank god… and no grandparents yet).
    Merry Christmas to you all from the birthplace of Jesus :-).
    Eyal

  18. DeepInTheHeartOfTexas says:

    Indeed. Merry Christmas Anthony and all.

    Maybe Bitcoin next year :)

  19. lemiere jacques says:

    hey send me a buck or i email the pictures!

  20. John W. Garrett says:

    Mr. Watts,
    Thank you for all that you do and have done to aid the increase and diffuse of knowledge.

    You have the patience of Job.

  21. Gunga Din says:

    Sounds like some $2 are worth more than others.
    Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  22. farmerbraun says:

    Or you could just look at this :-

    http://earth.nullschool.net/

  23. Janice Moore says:

    Dear Eyal,

    Shalom and Merry Christmas, to you and to your family in the Town of David. The world owes so much in so many ways to God’s (please forgive my writing out His name) Chosen People, the Jews. Isn’t it amazing? We believers in Jeshua forget (How could we? I don’t know! But, we do!) that He and Mary and Joseph and all the disciples and nearly the entire early Church were Jews.

    May your evening and your morning be peaceful and may 2014 bring you much joy.

    Gratefully from a Gentile who loves Jews!,

    Janice

  24. farmerbraun says:

    Click EARTH and height 250 hPa to see the jetstream

    http://earth.nullschool.net/

  25. ansel61 says:

    Eyal,

    You live in a manger?

  26. Mike M says:

    michaelwiseguy says: “You simply toggle the switch to the off position and it immediately cuts the battery power to the phone. ”

    I can see that working but surmise you would still have to press the phone’s power up button to turn it back on after switching your added switch back to the on position?

    My cell phone is off most of time and everyone who knows me does not leave messages on ‘it’ because they know I never review them; I’ve trained them all to leave messages only on my land line phone. I don’t do texting either, just send me an email. If it’s something important call my land line and if it’s something really really important – call 911 or a lawyer not me!

  27. Policycritic says:

    farmerbraun says:
    December 24, 2013 at 11:08 am

    Click EARTH and height 250 hPa to see the jetstream
    http://earth.nullschool.net/

    Wonderful. Thank you.

  28. mbur says:

    “I like to challenge them to look beyond their surroundings and think. ”
    It’s pretty cold outside (36°F on the sun side of the house and it’s sunny)so ,the kids and I just put up a ping pong table in the basement…for hand-eyeballing the random pattern and doing something quickly about it or lose the point.I’m not that good at it ,yet ;-)

    Thanks and Merry Christmas to all at WUWT

  29. ED, Mr. Jones says:

    farmerbraun says:
    December 24, 2013 at 11:08 am

    “Click EARTH and height 250 hPa to see the jetstream”

    Most of it appears to emanate from Washington, DC. I’m shocked.

  30. Robertvd says:

    And the dogs? Where are the dogs?

  31. Policycritic says:

    farmerbraun says:
    December 24, 2013 at 11:08 am

    Layman question: am I correct in assuming that what I am seeing on this site is info that is not yet simulated in the CMIP5 climate models used by the IPCC?

    Thank you in advance for any answer.

  32. tom s says:

    Fun. I’ve done this sort of thing before but usually just a ‘find the coin’ game. I’ll take your advice and hide a higher amount….my kids are 9 and 11 so I may have to hide some bills too. Merry Christmas!

  33. How do you differentiate from all the loose change that normally sits around?

  34. Crispin in Waterloo says:

    @michaelwiseguy

    “I invented a cell phone with a mechanical on/off switch. You simply toggle the switch to the off position and it immediately cuts the battery power to the phone. It also prevents the NSA from spying on you and stops people from bothering you.”

    It might surprise you to know that cell phones can be ‘pinged’ by a cell tower even when they are turned off in the same way an NFC chip can. If they can’t hear you they at least know where you are and who you are with (if they have their own phone).

    The NSA also collects all financial transactions so you should take cash along…

  35. I just hope it isn’t dark money!

  36. Happy Holidays from my cats to yours :)

  37. Gail Combs says:

    What a great idea Anthony.

    I play the game with my driving glasses since I normally wear my computer glasses around the farm. (They are cheaper and larger than my driving glasses so protect my eyes better)

    Merry Christmas to All and a wonderful cold snowy New Year to all the Warmists

  38. Max Hugoson says:

    Anthony, just think…if you were a “Climatologist” you could be using $100 Gold Pieces. But then, being the public pirate you’d have to be..you’d be shouting, “Arrrrgh! Pieces of Eight, Pieces of Eight…heave too and prepare to be boarded yea TAXPAYERS!”

  39. DirkH says:

    Crispin in Waterloo says:
    December 24, 2013 at 12:11 pm
    “It might surprise you to know that cell phones can be ‘pinged’ by a cell tower even when they are turned off in the same way an NFC chip can.”

    That is because the chips are not disconnected from the power supply when you turn it “off”. They are not really off. Only scare-quote-”off”.
    The only electronics that can be “pinged” without having a power supply is currently an RFID tag, and that works only over meters.

  40. Oscar Bajner says:

    That’s a nice idea, my aunt used to put pennies all over her house during the holidays,
    and I made it a tradition in our family.
    That is, until one of the little so-an-so’s got a metal detector for Xmas!

    No, it’s just not guaranteed to keep them busy for long enough, but hey I just had a great
    idea: This year we are taking the kids down to the ocean,
    and they aren’t getting any pudding until they find the missing heat!
    That should keep them occupied for a while longer. Merry Christmas everyone
    OH
    and may all your Santa Clauses be blank.

  41. Ric Werme says:

    Next year, since Al Gore’s warmer cronies say I’m apparently flush with cash reaching into the billions, I’m going to put out pure gold and silver coins and hide some gold bullion in the freezer.

    We’ll be over!

    My siblings and I clean up on Easter candy hunts. Apparently most people weren’t as sneaky as my father was. And now us. I like aiming for June for the last jelly bean to be found, that’s before serious humidity sets in and they get messy.

    I do like the known amount of change idea. Yeah, that last penny must be annoying.

  42. Mike M says:
    December 24, 2013 at 11:21 am

    ” I can see that working but surmise you would still have to press the phone’s power up button to turn it back on after switching your added switch back to the on position? ”

    The phone automatically powers back up when the mechanical power switch is toggled to the on position. With fast programming, power up time takes just a few seconds. No need to worry when off, 100% of power is cut to all circuitry. No need to throw the phone out the window of a moving car like in the movies when they’re tracking you with the built in GPS, that doesn’t work either when off.
    I’m patenting the feature and will be licensing the technology to all cell phone manufacturers. I hope the Chinese don’t steal my invention like they did with my cell phone signal blocking pouch.

  43. noaaprogrammer says:

    I was at a high school party back in the early 1960s in which this kind of money hunt was one of the activities. There was one, 1$ bill that wasn’t found until the hostess showed us: it was tightly taped around the spine of a similarly green book, with George Washington perfectly centered on the spine!

  44. jorgekafkazar says:

    Fumblefoot says: “I know a solo variant called ‘Where are my bloody keys?’. Its addictive, I play at least once a week whether I want to or not.”

    You can buy an electronic thingamabob that will help you locate your keys in seconds. Then you can play “Where the fudge is my thingamabob?”

    Dear Eyal: Zay gezunt!

  45. anvilman says:

    The “Warmers” play a similar game. Its called Find The Missing Heat

  46. Glenn Dixon says:

    Rename your cat Algore. Should be able to get any number of coins to disappear. And the cat will match each one!

  47. JohnWho says:

    “Darker coins like old pennies go into nooks on darker furniture. ”

    Ah, ha!

    An admission you have “dark money”!

    LOL

    Merry Christmas to all WUWT-ers.

  48. Annie says:

    So that’s where the ‘dark money’ went to! Happy Christmas Anthony to you and your family. We are with our grandkids Down Under now and looking forward to the day here; I don’t think I’ll have time to hide coinage as it’s already gone 0930am and there are other things to prepare. It’s a great idea for the future though.

    Thanks to Eyal for wishes from Bethlehem…many blessings to you.

  49. WillR says:

    In Ontario they hide money in Wind Turbines — Billions of Dollars — it’s easy to find.

    Merry Christmas everyone!

  50. polski says:

    What to do on a golf course in the winter in Canada…of course you make a huge rink on your irrigation pond and invite kids to play…much better than video games ..Merry Christmas to all

  51. F. Ross says:

    “…
    If you aren’t a parent, this little game works great for grandparents too.
    …”

    Works for uncles too.

    I used to do treasure hunts for my nieces and nephews. Best hiding place I ever used was taped (transparent tape, kid eye level) to a functional pocket door which almost no one ever used.

  52. Chung-fai Wu says:

    Great Idea, thanks.

  53. littlepeaks says:

    If you play this game, be careful about younger kids finding the coins and putting them in their mouths. I was home alone with my daughter, when she was very young. I pulled her shorts down to change her diaper while she was laying on her back. A penny fell out of her pocket. I said, “Jenny, don’t put that in your mouth”, but it was too late. The coin got wedged in her windpipe, and she could not breathe at all. Realizing there was no time to call paramedics, I did the Heimlich maneuver on her, but I think I squeezed too hard. Everything in her stomach came out. Fortunately, the penny dislodged, but she swallowed it. I called the emergency room which advised me to just watch her stools, and she should pass it in a day or two. Two days later, she passed the penny. I cleaned it off. It had a dark blue patina on it (probably because of the reaction of bile acids on the copper — this was in the day of copper pennies). I wanted to get the penny mounted in Lucite as a memento for her, but never got around to it.

    Just be careful out there — OK? And Merry Christmas.

  54. _Jim says:

    michaelwiseguy says December 24, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    I’m patenting the feature

    Good luck on getting the patent office examiners to ‘buy-off’ on that one; prior implementation on just about EVERYTHING from vacuum cleaners to hair dryers to flashlights is the obstacle you are going to face.

    You might try patenting something not quite so common, like square doorknobs or reverse-thread electric screw-in light bulbs …

    .

  55. _Jim says:

    michaelwiseguy says December 24, 2013 at 10:32 am

    I invented a cell phone with a mechanical on/off switch.

    Better idea: Aluminum Zip-loc baggie for the phone (in effect, a Schlage or flexible RF shield). An idea-present from me to this Christmas eve!

    http://catless.ncl.ac.uk/Risks/8.18.html#subj2

    .

  56. _Jim says:

    Crispin in Waterloo says December 24, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    It might surprise you to know that cell phones can be ‘pinged’ by a cell tower even when they are turned off in the same way an NFC chip can.

    The way to check this a __________ … diode RF detector! You’re right!

    The easiest way to do this is with a _________ …. small AM transistor radio placed next to the phone! Right again! Two for two now!

    And what are we going to observe for? We are going to observe for _________ … clicking in the speaker each time the phone ‘wakes’ up and xmits a ‘packet’ of data to the cell site! Right again!!!!!

    Congratulations on your Macgyvering a zero-cost zero-time solution on the fly with available ‘tools’ and/or materials!

  57. Eyal Porat says:

    ansel61 says:
    December 24, 2013 at 11:16 am
    (-: No, but i live just off the Mount of Beautitude, quite close to Nazareth…

    And to Janice, thank you very much for your kind words too.
    Have a great holiday!

  58. Karl W. Braun says:

    Warmest of Christmas wishes to you and your family, Anthony!

  59. ossqss says:

    Nice Anthony and Merry Christmas!

    I have been watching the inverse over the last few weeks. My wife has been hiding money at retailers as far as I can tell ! LOL

    On a more serous note, if any of you have shopped at a target store since the 27th of last month to the 15th of this month with a credit or debit card, get a new one. You need to do that to avoid issues since their breach of customer data happened. It is much easier to do that than the alternative. Just sayin…….. no BS folks. One of the many things I do is PCI compliance, and they were not compliant with a data breach of that magnitude. Hence the 40 million cards that were compromised. I was one of them.

  60. _Jim says:

    farmerbraun says December 24, 2013 at 11:08 am
    Click EARTH and height 250 hPa to see the jetstream

    http://earth.nullschool.net/

    That image looks more like a depiction of the surface flow. Notice the ‘flow’ in the mid US 48 in the following graphic – it more closely matches the 925 mb level:

    . . . http://weather.rap.ucar.edu/upper/upaCNTR_925.gif

    Than it does the 250 mb level (which is ripping from west to east and then to the NE for the present time):

    . . . http://weather.rap.ucar.edu/upper/upaCNTR_250.gif

    The different ‘levels’ can be selected here:
    . . . http://weather.rap.ucar.edu/upper/

    Nice graphic though … right clicking that image seems to give the wind speed at the point clicked, and it appears as though it is surface speeds.

    .

  61. Tobias Smit says:

    @ mike, 1121 pm, re cell phone and land line we do the same here both of us , cell is with us as a flashlight like for emergencies only, as you do, please leave a message at the tone on the land line.
    and if you want you are always welcome for a cupp, if ou know where we live , directions freely given .
    To Anthony and his ex-fiancee, MERRY CHRISTMAS and a great 2014 , This is to all of you on this network especially to Janice ,you are a gem! And thanks Polski great pics (since moving to BC I have a hard time finding a level spot though LOL). Love and best wishes to all!

  62. EJ says:

    Reminds me of takin my kids to Mt. Graham in AZ.

    I laid out some coin and gave them a map and a compass and showed them how to use them. They were 6 and 8.

    They both navigated the course.

    Sigh….

  63. Greg says:

    “If you aren’t a parent, this little game works great for grandparents too.”

    Nah, for grandparents, hiding their specs is much more fun to watch !!

    Keeps ‘em out of trouble for hours.

  64. _Jim says:

    re: ossqss says December 24, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    Have you seen what has been ‘developed’ regarding the compromise, breech, ‘theft’ of Credit Card magnetic-stripe data, and the subsequent offering of that info on the web?

    Brian Krebs does a bang-up job collecting that info, as do some of his posters, here:

    http://krebsonsecurity.com/

    This is the blog post that seems to have forced Target to go public with the information about the 18th of December or so:

    http://krebsonsecurity.com/2013/12/cards-stolen-in-target-breach-flood-underground-markets/

    To summarize, it appears that

    (1) the data ‘contained’ in/on the mag strip on the back of all CC (credit, debit, etc cards) ran through Target company CC readers from about (2) Thanksgiving to 15 December was (3) forwarded in perhaps real-time to (4) an offsite repository and storage ‘archive’ in possession of ‘Carders’ (as they are known.)

    By virtue of the fact that the CC info sucked up by Carders is *also* categorized by what city, state and Zip code, stolen CC data is available for known areas, obviously, so ‘red flags’ aren’t thrown when the card data is placed onto another, blank credit card and ostensibly used to purchase merchandise by crooks who have bought batches of these CC ‘numbers’ for placing on CC blanks.

    Another important detail – the 3 or 4 digit NUMBER printed on the back of these CCards was not taken … this seems to be known as the CVV2 (C V V 2) number, whereas the CVV1 (C V V 1) number is coded in the mag strip on the card (with everything else). The CVV2 number appears to used when ordering things online/over the phone, etc.

    They timed this well, too, in between Thanksgiving and Christmas – a very tight shopping season this year and banks/CUs are hesitant to do ‘blanket’ card cancellations on their own! This would impact shopping and customers in an even bigger way!

    More details – see Krebs’ website above!

    .

  65. Steve C says:

    Haha, what a lovely little game. Makes the adult(s) think too – the smarter you are, the smarter the kids have to think and the longer they’re occupied. And not an electron in sight!

    Merry Christmas to the Watts family, and to all who pass this way, from a wet and slightly battered UK.

  66. James Bull says:

    My mum would play “where are my glasses” as she went looking around the house looking for them. we would then tell her they were on the top of her head where she had pushed them when she had finished with them and would need them again in a little while. My mum never seemed to tier of this game and it kept us amused for ages as well.
    I get around this by having a pair of glasses in each room so I can in theory lay my hands on them when needed.
    A game our children seemed to like was where’s “X”. “X” could be anything that they could not find clothes, shoes, homework or a toy, it was normally in plain sight right next to whichever child was looking for it. They would be looking all around and I would be giving hints as to its location and marveling that they could not see it!
    God bless you all this Christmas.

    James Bull

  67. Merry Christmas !!!
    Eguberri On !!!
    (Joxanjel and Manuela from Basque Country)

  68. scott says:

    littlepeaks says:
    December 24, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    I had a similar thing happen, my boy was shaking a coin in a cup and as I put him down to change his diaper the coin flipped out of the cup and disappeared. I looked for it and couldn’t find it then asked if him if the coin did a “hole in one” and landed in his mouth. He said no but I didn’t believe it so I got my metal detector and sure enough it registered a solid “zinc penny” in his stomach. Took him to the doctors and they confirmed the penny was in his stomach and not in his airway, I got to use my metal detector again to confirm it had cleared his system.

  69. TRM says:

    Out on the prairies a snare wire and some gopher holes were a great way to keep the kids occupied for hours. Mind you that only works in summer.

    Happy Christmas everyone!

  70. BM says:

    Just don’t be surprised when they find those adult toys in the bedroom closet.

  71. Gary Hladik says:

    Thanks for the tip, Anthony. I tried that on my 4 nieces & nephews (ages 2 to 8) at our Christmas Eve party. To avoid accidental trampling of the smaller kids, I assigned each kid his/her own room to search, with difficulty level adjusted according to age. To complete the quest in the limited time (or attention span) available I finally had to give hints, but it worked out well. :-)

  72. Larry Brasfield says:

    Just a teensy nit: The set “grandparents” is a proper subset of “parents”. Hence, the set of those with grandkids who are not parents is empty. Of course, the game can be played with kids who are somebody else’s children or grandchildren.

  73. fjodor says:

    Now we know how you hide your funding from Big Oil..

  74. Lloyd Martin Hendaye says:

    Listen! Hear age-old carols echo cheer
    As celebrants brave winter’s dark and chill.
    Now family and friends do offer praise,
    Proclaim peace and prosperity at each New Year.
    Let all rejoice, and chorus in good spirits:
    WELCOME, YULE!

  75. Star Craving Engineer says:

    “I’m going to put out pure gold and silver coins and hide some gold bullion …”
    I recommend you flag that sentence with a /sarc tag, Anthony, lest it be widely quoted as ‘proof’ in future MSM reportage of the ‘Dark Money’ hit-piece.

  76. Tommy E says:

    Every April Fool’s Day, the new guy in the office gets pranked by me with a related Hide and Seek game. I have an old ten-count box of 3.5 inch floppies, where each floppy is labeled numerically in sequence, 1, 2, 3, … 10. I then “hide” the floppies in plane sight in the victim’s cubical with the empty box sitting next to the keyboard. When the victim arrives, he sees the box and the first few floppies, and starts the collection process. The game usually lasts about 10 minutes. The entertaining part is that there really are only 9 floppies. Number 7 in the series is missing. But the box holds ten floppies, and the victim finds 1,2,3,4,5,6,8,9, and 10 within a few minutes, so the victim just keeps on looking for the “missing” floppy. (^_^)

    As a side note, I have come to notice that the response to “game” contains interesting insights into our new comrade’s disposition. Some continue looking for up to half an hour before I have to stop the game, usually because I can hear furniture being moved. We keep these guys at arms length. Most give up after ten minutes and then admit that they can’t find the “missing” floppy. The look on their face when I finally inform them that there is no number 7 floppy is usually priceless. But a very few stop looking after only a few minutes, as they realize that the joke isn’t the floppies splattered all over the cubical, but that there is a missing floppy. These guys are always very clever, turn out to be the best of friends, and usually exact minor retribution in the coming months. I look forward to the challenges …

    Happy New Year!

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