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February 11 - Subway Treasure Hunt!

Oh boy. Today was the Subway Treasure hunt and it was a doozy. Zephyr and Lyric were too excited to get dressed before starting, so I let them do it in their pajamas.

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The first thing was finding the initial note on the table laying out the rules. Note that I printed out the notes using Helvetica, in deference to Massimo Vignelli who chose the font for the whole system:

Zephyr got that the rhyme was "ukulele" pretty quickly... their nanny Lilly plays ukulele in a band called the Stops. So he ran to the bedroom where the ukulele was hanging and looked behind it to reveal... the first clue and a subway map!

Zephyr ran to the living room to start working on the clue, and Lyric kind of fell behind to watch a little (he tends to wait until the end of the hunt to get really involved). Zephyr unfolded the subway map on the floor to see the whole city at once. We looked it over together, noting where Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island were.

 If you want to play along, here's what clue number one said.

If you want to play along, here's what clue number one said.

This was admittedly a pretty tough one for Zephyr. But we looked over the map together, and Zephyr noted that the beginning of train lines were marked with a square around the number rather than a circle. So if he could find a line where both squares were outside Manhattan, then that train didn't go into Manhattan. But then I showed him how the R train starts in Queens, goes through Manhattan, and then goes to Brooklyn to end. But while looking that over, we noted that each train has its own color, so if he could find a color NOT in Manhattan, that should be the line that doesn't go into the borough. Bingo. The light green line didn't go into Manhattan, so first letter was G!

One of the best part about having kids is watching their minds work. By doing this, I got to see Zephyr not just see the map as little bits, but take in the gestalt of the thing and see it as a larger unit. It was fascinating. Zephyr wrote down the letter in red pen and figured out pretty quickly that the next clue was under the glider cushion, just a few feet away.

 Again, if you're playing along at home, clue number two.

Again, if you're playing along at home, clue number two.

Zephyr was off to the races with this one. He immediately found that there were two subway lines named after vowels, and found the airports on the map. He saw the A went to one and after confirming the E did not, figured out the next letter in the password. He also got the answer about the Lego head pretty quickly, although when he went to check it took him a few seconds to realize it was in the top part of the head rather than the bottom. It was just sneaky enough to give him a good head scratching but quickly get it... that's right on target for what we're trying to get across.

 Once again, for all those playing at home. I kind of petered out with the poetry at the end here, but I figured it was okay.

Once again, for all those playing at home. I kind of petered out with the poetry at the end here, but I figured it was okay.

Zephyr found the final letter by tracing over the orange line trains and finding out which one went over the Williamsburg Bridge. I wasn't sure if he was going to look for the bridges first or the lines, but whatever he did worked, because he found the third letter on his own, while I was in the bathroom getting ready for the day. He got Lyric, ran up to me, and said "the password is GEM!" So I gave them the final riddle, which was:

"I stand by the door but never leave, I have many coats but no body, and I hold many hangers although I'm smaller than an airplane. What am I?"

The "hangers" part worked better spoken than written. Zephyr got it was a closet right away, but didn't quite get it was the coat closet until after looking through his own closet. But then both Zephyr and Lyric descended on the coat closet. In a nice twist, Zephyr looked and looked for the treasure, but it was Lyric who eventually found it. He was really happy that he could help.

And then all that was left to do was open up the treasure chest and collect their booty! Another Treasure Hunt in the books!