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 your child to be active and to explore.

A treasure hunt is a fun and satisfying experience for children of all ages.

What you need for a treasure hunt

You can do a treasure hunt anywhere, but an outdoor space with lots of interesting things to look at and places to hide things is more fun to explore.

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 him in another area.

Your ‘treasure’ doesn’t have to be something special. A household item like a colourful ball or a plastic bottle works 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 she can 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 him to look for the others until he has 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 and finding the treasure.

Adapting a treasure hunt for children of different ages

Your younger child might find hunting for clues a bit challenging. You can have a simpler treasure by getting your child to look for everyday items in the park. Here’s how:

  • Make a list of items 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 objects she finds.
  • Talk with your child about the shapes, colours and textures of the objects he has found. Try comparing them. 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 her to try!