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Treasure Hunt and Map Activity

Updated: Apr 7, 2019

Spring is just around the corner here in San Diego, the rain has passed and the air is becoming warm again. The birds are chirping, the bees are buzzing, and even our kitty Pomegranate is clawing at the door in hopes to chase down nature as it comes to life.

It is a beautiful time to be outdoors, so I'm starting to focus more on activities that will get my kids out into our backyard. I came up with the idea below and it was a huge hit. This is a creative outdoor (or indoor) activity your kids will get super excited about. Who doesn't love a good treasure hunt?

This is my 4 year old's first treasure map drawing

This activity could be done with one child or a whole classroom full of kids. I recommend it for kids age 4 and up (although my almost 3 year old got equally excited about finding the treasure). It's really simple, here is how I did it:

Step 1: Choose your treasure. My 4 year old's idea of a treasure was a simple drawing she did and put into an envelope. I decided to up the ante and added a chocolate covered peanut butter treat to the envelope on our first round of treasure hunts. Later we added raisins and small Lara bars to envelopes. Your kids won't care so much about what the treasure is, so you can use whatever you want. Seal it in a ziplock baggie, an envelope or even a decorated shoe box treasure chest. The process of finding the treasure is the fun part.

Step 2: Hide the treasure in your back yard. If you can't do it in your backyard, your house would work just as well. If possible, do this part before you even tell your kids what you are doing. Otherwise if they are anything like my kids they will follow you around and see where you hid the treasure. I would recommend doing it when they are napping, after they go to bed at night, or when they are at school. If you happen to have a sand box this is a super fun place to hide it. Bury it under the sand to create more of a challenge!

My husband drew this map for our kids

Step 3: Draw a simple treasure map. It could be a birds eye view, an eye level drawing, or just a map with simple shapes. Use a different colored line or dotted line to draw where the kids need to go to find the treasure. Make sure you have them go a long way, under stuff, over stuff, around stuff, to make it more interesting and fun. And of course X marks the spot!

Here is the first treasure map I did for my kids

Step 4: Give your kids the map and send them off on their treasure hunt.

Step 5: After they find the treasure ask them if they would like to take a turn hiding a treasure and drawing their own map. They can package up a treasure for you, and hide it somewhere for you to find. Give them a piece of paper and some markers to draw their own map that they will give to you to find the treasure. Try not to give them much more instruction than that, unless they ask for more. They saw your treasure map, so you have already modeled for them how to do it. Now let them give it a shot, this is where you get to see their creativity blossom! If your kids are anything like mine they will amaze you.

One of my 4 year old's treasure map drawings, that crazy looking thing is the kitties new scratching post

This activity is such a treat for kids, and a fun game for you to play with them as well. If your kids are older than mine you could create a multi-step treasure map, with clues or riddles at each stop. The sky is the limit! Try it out, I think you will love it!

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