Treasure hunt: why it’s good for children
A treasure hunt is all about looking for something and then finding it. An outdoor treasure hunt game encourages children to be active and to explore.
A treasure hunt is a fun and satisfying experience for children.
What you need for a treasure hunt
You can do a treasure hunt anywhere, but an outdoor space with plenty of interesting things to look at and places to hide things can be a lot of fun.
Here’s what you need for a treasure hunt:
- paper and pencils to prepare the clues in advance
- a ‘treasure’ to hide
- someone to supervise your child while you hide the treasure and clues – for example, someone to take your child for a short walk or play with your child in another area.
Your ‘treasure’ can be a household item. For example, a colourful ball, a plastic bottle or a peg can work really well.
How to have a treasure hunt
You set up a treasure hunt by hiding clues and the treasure. The clues can be simple drawings that your child has to find. Each clue tells your child where to find the next clue. The final clue leads to the treasure.
Here’s how to have a treasure hunt:
- Plan the hunt first. Decide where to hide the treasure and work backwards. For example, you might plan to hide the treasure beneath the slide. The clue to the slide might be at the water fountain. The clue to the water fountain might be at the park bench and so on.
- Draw pictures for each of the clues. For example, draw a picture of the slide, a picture of the water fountain, a picture of the park bench and so on.
- Hide the treasure and the clues while your child is supervised somewhere else.
- When you’re ready, tell your child it’s time for the treasure hunt. Give your child the first clue and encourage them to look for the others until they’ve found the treasure.
- Talk with your child about the treasure hunt. For example, ‘Was it hard?’ or ‘Was it fun?’ Praise your child for not giving up until they had found the treasure.
Adapting a treasure hunt for children of different ages or children with diverse abilities
Your younger child might find hunting for clues a bit challenging. You can have a simpler treasure hunt by getting your child to look for everyday items in the park. Here’s how:
- Make a list of things for your child to collect – for example, a round pebble, a pointy leaf, a red flower or a seed.
- Give your child a basket or bag for the things they find.
- Talk with your child about the shapes, colours and textures of the things they find. Try comparing the things. For example, ‘Which is bigger – the leaf or the flower?’
Another way to hunt for treasure is to draw a very simple map of the park, showing landmarks like the slide, the water fountain and the park bench. Use an ‘X’ to mark the spot where you’ve hidden the treasure.
Your older child who’s learning to read might be able to read written clues with your help. Treasure at the end is a good way to encourage your child to try!
All children learn and develop through play. Our articles on play and autistic children and play and children with disability are great starting points for adapting this activity guide for children with diverse abilities. You might also like to explore our activity guides for children with diverse abilities.