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Treasure Hunt Activity
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This treasure hunt activity is great for birthday parties. The children follow a series of simple clues to find a treasure (a bag of candy or tiny toys). This type of hunt is for children who can read. For older, more sophisticated kids, you can easily make the clues more challenging (see below)!

A treasure hunt takes a while for an adult to set up (give yourself a lot of time to plan it out and place the clues) but the kids love it.

Supplies needed:
  • A few pieces of construction paper (different colors)
  • A printer
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • A treasure for each group of children (candies or little toys)
  • A small plastic bag or a treasure chest for each team (you can make them)
  • Optional: A tiny compass for each team (only for advanced treasure hunters)

Treasure bag --
A plastic sandwich bag filled with goodies.
Decide how many teams you have (maximum 2-3 per team). Then either pack up a tiny treasure bag for each team (plastic sandwich bags packed with candy) or make one larger treasure chest that will be shared by everyone.
Go to a treasure chest craft (made from a shoebox).
Decide if you want the hunt to be inside, outside, or both. Next, scout out the treasure hunting area for good places to hide the tiny clues (each clue will be on a tiny slip of paper that is folded up and will be taped to its hiding place).

Make a list of possible hiding places (like under a table or in the flower bush by the back door). Good places to hide clues include the bottoms of chairs and other furniture, on bookshelves (don't tape clues to the visible surface of wooded furniture or you can damage it). Make sure to keep the clues away from breakable objects or dangerous things (like thorny bushes)!

Roughly 10 clues will keep early readers busy for quite a while (the time depends on how hard the clues are!).The number of clues you need depends on the age of the children and how long you want the hunt to last.


Go to a sampling of simple treasure hunt clues.
Write a set of clues, or print out and modify one of our sets of clues (simple - for early readers or more complex - for older kids). Remember that the last clue will be the place that the loot is hidden.

For older kids, make the clues a little harder by scrambling some of the words, give rhyming words (for example, "In the living room, look under a piece of furniture that rhymes with hare."), using simple codes, or simply odd clues (for example, to find a clue taped to a bicycle, the clue could read, "Look under something in the garage that is two-tired."). For more examples, see our sample clue sheet.

For an even more challenging hunt, give each team a small compass and use navigation in your clues (for example, "Start at the front door. Walk north for 20 steps. The clue is in the bush in front of you.").

Print one copy of the clues for each team. Use a different color for each team. Make sure the colors are very different (like white, red, blue, and green); using colors that are too close to each other (for example, light green and yellow) can result in people mistakenly taking each others clues --this results in utter confusion!


Go to a sampling of more complicated treasure hunt clues.
For each team, cut each clue out -- each one will be a long strip of paper. Organize the clues so that the final clue is where the treasure will be (use a tray, shallow box, or other flat surface to hold the clues while you organize them and distribute them around the house). Work on one team's clues at a time. If there is more than one team of treasure seekers, repeat the process multiple times, but shuffle the order of the clues each time (if each team's clues are in the same order they can just follow each other around).
---> Start hiding the clues, working backwards, from the last clue to the first. Begin by placing the loot in its hiding place (as determined by the last clue). In the example to the left, the treasure would be hidden by the window.

Now fold up the final clue (the clue that tells where the treasure is hidden) and hide it where the next-to-last clue says to (you may need tape to secure the clue to its hiding place). In the example to the left, the final clue ("Look by the window.") would be hidden on the shelf.

Now, work your way backwards, hiding each clue in the location listed in the previous clue. Keep hiding clues until there is only one left -- this will be the clue that starts off one team of hunters.

Repeat this for each team.

When it is time to begin the hunt, first let the hunters know the rules of the treasure hunt. Some useful rules are:
  • Stay in the treasure hunt area. Let them know what areas of the house and/or yard they will be searching (and which areas are NOT in the treasure hunt and are off limits).
  • Make sure that you only take you own clues (they are color coded).
  • If you find someone else's clue, leave it where it is and don't tell anyone.

Then give each team their first clue, and they will be off!

You now have an amazing treasure hunt that will keep the kids hunting for quite a while!


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