Saturday, August 29, 2009

Make Your Own Treasure Hunt

~Heather also blogs at HEATHER LESSITER and The Fat Bottomed Girl.~

My kids love to do treasure hunts and scavenger hunts. It is cool to find "treasures" hidden in your very own back yard; the excitement, the mystery, it is all so much fun! Read on to find out how to have your own homemade treasure hunt.

This is a fun activity for a birthday party, too; perhaps one with a pirate theme even! Hide a treat bag for each guest that they get to take home with them.
For this particular treasure hunt, I kept some paper tubes from foil and plastic wrap. I thought the brown color would lend itself well to hiding the treasures outside. I placed the treasures in zip-top bags and then into the tubes.

I had been buying small things here and there when I was at the store without the kids, so they had no idea that these treats were even in the house. I even kept the entire hunt a surprise from them. I planned it out ahead of time, so all I had to do was hide the treasures as I went about my daily routines. They were so excited when I told them there would be a treasure hunt after lunch!
The "treasures" I used were:
Paper lunch sacks- This is where they'll put their treasures as they find more of them. I marked them with each child's name. I know this isn't exactly a treasure, but it was one more stop for the kids to make and they thought it was cool.
Gumballs- these are something I keep around as it is.
Swedish fish- I little extra I picked up at a local chocolate factory.

PEZ- No dispensers, just the candy you put inside of them.
Coins- quarters in this case.

Since our hunt was for a wide range of ages, I made the hunt a bit harder. The older kids helped the younger kids. If your kids are very young, you could simply draw or print pictures of the places the treasures are hidden. Tailor the clues to your child's capabilities and your craftiness. You can either have an individual treasure or loot bag for each child or do as I did and have group treasures that will get divided evenly.

If you have group treasures, you will want to set the first clue aside to give to the kids. Place the second clue with the first treasure, the third clue with the second treasure and so on so that when they find the first treasure, they will find the clue to the next spot. I make a list of the treasures and where to hide them before I get started so I don't forget what goes where.
Before you turn the kids loose, you may want to lay out some ground rules, especially if you have a range of ages, such as 'no running ahead' so the younger kids don't get left behind or hurt and 'divide the treasures equally'. I like to outline these in the first clue.

Your treasure hunt can be as complex or simple as you like. If you aren't into giving your kids candy as their treasures, here are some other items you could use:

~ Craft supplies. Place a different item in each spot. When the hunt is complete, the supplies they have found can be used to make a craft! They will have fun trying to figure out what they'll be making along the way.
~ School supplies. Hide all of the things they'll need for school!
~ Coins. When they are done searching, they can count up the total. This would be a great way to sneak in a math lesson at the same time!
~ Coupons. Make coupons for things like renting a movie, having a friend over, reading a story together, family game night, staying up 15 minutes late, Mom makes your bed for one day, etc.
~ Random items such as lip balm, stickers, notepads, markers, bouncy balls or cars. This list could go on and on.

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