clue, disguised, hidden, hide, hunch, invisible, mission, mystery
Pens, pencils, or markers
Something for the treasure (small gifts, coins, treats, etc.)
You can set up a treasure hunt in a small apartment, a house, a back yard, or a public park. You just need to do a little planning. What will the treasure be? A small gift? A yummy treat? Make sure you have as many prizes as you have kids, or a big enough prize for them to share.
Setting Up Your Treasure Hunt
- Decide where you will hide the treasure. This will be the final stop on the treasure hunt.
- Choose 5 to 8 stops along the route where the child or children will pick up the next clue (the last clue will send them to the hidden treasure).
- Once you know the route, you can make the clues. You can write simple clues or you can draw pictures where the next clue is hidden (for example, if the next clue is in the refrigerator, you might draw a milk carton). If you write the clues, you may need to read them aloud, depending on the age of the child or children.
- Hide the treasure, hide the clues, and give your child or children their challenge!
Starting Your Treasure Hunt
- Tell your child or children, "Your mission is to find the hidden treasure. It's not invisible, but it might be disguised as something else. You must follow a series of clues to uncover the mystery of where the treasure is."
- Give the children the first clue. Either read it out loud, or let them try to puzzle over the picture. Make sure they understand that they will all share the treasure and they should work together.
- If they get stuck, say, "Do you have a hunch what that clue might mean? Do you want me to give you some hints?" Using new words like hunch when you are talking with your child helps introduce him or her to new words and build a larger vocabulary.
- When they find the treasure, congratulate them. Tell them, "You have solved the mystery! Now you get to enjoy the treasure!"
Instead of clues, you could draw a treasure map for your child to follow. If your kids are older, you can draw a treasure map that marks the spot where the clues are hidden on stiff paper (like a folder). Cut the map into 5—8 puzzle pieces, and write the clues on the back of each piece. When your child or children have found all the clues, they put the map together to find the hidden treasure!
Read these books aloud after the children are settled in with their very own treasure. Invite kids to talk about their experiences on the hunt.
- I Spy Treasure Hunt by Jean Marzollo
A clever series of pictures lead readers on a merry treasure hunt.
- Pirate Treasure Hunt by Jan Peck
A motley crew of pirates search for a very special treasure.
- Treasure by Suzanne Bloom
A polar bear and a goose discover a treasure map and go on an adventure together.