Tools of the Trade: I Spy

what do you see?

Hidden Pictures. Look and Find. I Spy. There are many names for this classic game of searching for pictures and objects.  There’s a reason there are now lots of books, games, worksheets and posters available in stores.  This activity scores big on distraction, is low cost, and can be played anywhere. I love to use the large books during procedures (especially IV starts and blood draws) with children who have decided they don’t want to watch.  The book serves as a visual barrier between the child and the person doing the procedure. Child life or a parent can hold the book and help prompt/praise the child as each object is found. You can still provide important cuing information so there are no surprises (“the nurse is going to clean your arm, the soap will feel cool and wet”) and then return to searching. While the books, coloring pages and worksheets are great, you don’t need them to make use of this fun game. You can play “I Spy”by searching for objects in the hospital room and taking turns guessing and giving clues. Anyone in the room can be a part of the fun. Picture search worksheets and books are also a great addition to waiting rooms as a quiet activity that helps pass the time.

You can create your own picture search by using a white sheet or large paper as a background.  Gather small toys and trinkets and spread them on the background. Legos, beads, alphabet blocks, crayons and other small colorful items make for great “filler” to help hide objects to find. Take photographs, print, and laminate for ease of cleaning. You can also place the pictures in a heavy plastic sheet protector. Patients can then circle pictures with a dry erase marker. Many child life departments have created picture search badge cards for staff to always have a quick distraction tool.

Photo Credit: Tom Maglieri via Flickr

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