A Game for Tonight: Smartphone Find and Seek

  by Andrew Wolgemuth

How ‘bout a game that works just about anywhere and that can be tailored for just about any age or skill level? Introducing Smart Phone Find and Seek. It’s kind of like the classic Where’s Waldo? books in real life. Or Pokemon Go without reality being augmented. Or the classic  “I Spy” with a little help from technology.

My crew and I came up with this one a while back, and it’s worked in a variety of settings and situations. The concept is pretty simple, but the extent of the fun and challenge is limited only by your creativity.

Unlike traditional hide-and-seek in which hiders scatter and hide while the seeker counts, the Find and Seek fun starts with a single “Finder” (this should be you at first) leaving the “Seekers” (your kid/s), entering a different room or space, and finding something to take a picture of. The Finder then delivers the smart phone picture back to the Seekers, points them in the general direction of the photo subject, and sets them on their search.

The subject of the pic need not be Instagram-worthy. In fact, it probably shouldn’t be. The item, object, or detail that you’re looking for is something that’s distinctive enough to be searched out and found by the Seekers but not so distinctive that they’ll find it too quickly.

Want to make it challenging? Zoom way in on an object (a Lego house doesn’t look like itself when the only thing pictured is the corner of the structure). Or photograph something easily visible from an unusual angle (say, a pic of chair shot up from the floor under the chair). Or snap a familiar object that’s a bit hidden or obscured (a favorite room decoration or toy, perhaps).

If kids are struggling to find the real-life item captured in the picture that you took, a) keep that in mind for the next picture you take (maybe ease up a little bit, Waldo) and b) try a little “hot and cold” clue-dropping (“you’re getting hotter” as they approach the item; “oh … things are getting colder” when they’re getting further from it).

After the Seekers find the source of your picture, try switching roles: It’s time for you to be the Seeker and the kid/s to find something to capture with the camera. My kids have handed the phone back to me with a whole room (not the hardest thing to find) and random sections of carpet as the photo. Neither is ideal, but both are kind of funny. And they’ll get better with time.

Regardless of what’s on the phone’s screen when they hand it back to you, make a big show of your searching (whether you “succeed” or not), share a few tips for the next time they’re the Finders, and play another round. My guess is you’ll find some fun.


Looking for a way to make family dinner more enjoyable? Consider this conversation starter guide … or by going all-out with a Burp Lunch. Or maybe it’s bedtimes that need a little more fun? How ‘bout a Face Smoosh.

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Photo by Jay Mantri.