Have you ever wondered how to plan a treasure hunt? Today I’m sharing some tips for planning your very own treasure hunt. It’s pretty easy and a lot of fun. Every year (well since 2005) I’ve been organizing treasure hunts for my family. We love inviting family and friends to join the fun. September 19th is Talk Like a Pirate Day and a treasure hunt seemed like the perfect activity. Sometimes we have it after school, for family night, or on a Saturday morning. These simple tips will help you plan the perfect treasure hunt.
How To Plan A Treasure Hunt
The Pirate Code
Before the hunt starts have a talk with your pirates. Go over the ‘pirate code’. Rules may include the importance of holding some one’s hand before crossing any ‘oceans’ and looking both ways for ‘ships’ crossing. Also team work is an important part of my pirate crew. We take turns holding the map, giving directions, and digging for treasure. Also we have to all promise to share the booty. Any double crossing will result in walking the plank.
The map is probably the most important part of the treasure hunt. I always start with a large sheet of construction paper. Draw a rough sketch of your neighborhood, your house, the park, or any place you can think of for your treasure hunt. Like Stephan Covey I like to begin with the end in mind. Think about where you are going to bury or hide your treasure. Sometimes it’s a park (with sand) or part of the neighborhood that has a common area where I wouldn’t ruin everything by digging a hole.
Also think about your group, whether it’s just your kids or neighbor hood friends. Our first treasure hunt was in our town home complex. And I was up for inviting any kids from the area. But I knew there were some older kids who might run ahead and start digging up the treasure. And after setting up this hunt I didn’t want my kid and his friends to miss the excitement. So part of the map was hidden for us to find later. This kept the kids from knowing where the booty was hidden.
When you are drawing your map it wouldn’t be very exciting to turn right when you reached the end of the street. What makes things more exciting is turning right when you hit the Haunted Waterfalls. Give landmarks fun and silly names to get the kids excited. One time I named a corner in our neighborhood Bird Poop Hill. This corner had a lamp post that I’m going to assume was the hot spot the birds in the area. All the kids were so excited when we reached the corner when they saw the huge amounts of bird poop. It made the experience more real and exciting.
Grab Chalk and Get Creative
Side walk chalk is my treasure hunt essential! This is how I bring landmarks on the map alive. If we have to pass Skull Mountain than I draw mountains and a large skull with chalk on the sidewalk. They kids then recognize it from the map and get excited. Also every year I usually draw big rocks (actually I just draw circles) and I tell the kids we have to jump from rock to rock to avoid the crocodiles that sometimes swim in these waters. I also give them instructions to swing across vines or duck under poison ivy. Using chalk helps the kids better use their imaginations and create their own ideas for the hunt.
The Pirate Treasure
Almost as much fun as finding the treasure is the thrill of digging it up. I usually invite kids to bring shovels (sand toy shovels work great) so they can help dig up the ‘booty’. You don’t have to actually bury the treasure, but it’s really fun. I have a wooden treasure box (great deal here) from my son’s 1st birthday party (you may recognize it from this mermaid party) that I put chocolate coins in. Also rolo’s make a great treasure or candy necklaces. It could even be real money or Pirate’s Booty. If you don’t have a treasure box you could even use a tupperware container. Last year we did our treasure hunt at night so I thought my chocolate would be okay. But Arizona is still too warm, even in the evenings. I might put a mini cooling pack inside this year.
Another trick is to bury or hide the treasure when your kids aren’t around. After school I had my oldest watch the kids while I went to the park. Make sure no one is around so they don’t dig up your treasure when you leave. I counted steps from the slide so I could know the general area where it was buried. Last year was the first time it took some time to find it. Perseverance is a great lesson. I don’t always place an “X” over the treasure as I kinda think it’s just begging for someone to dig there.
Last year Talk Like a Pirate Day landed on a Monday night which is family night in our home. To invite the spirit into our activity I placed a favorite scripture at the bottom of the treasure box. You can add a lesson or moral if you would like as well. This was a simple way to remind our children what we should really treasure.
Other ways to kick your hunt up a notch?
- Rhyming couplets. Give clues that make your kids are to search around to find more clues. They can use their map to help them. This takes a little more time but kids love figuring things out.
- Dress up like pirates to get everyone in the pirate spirit. Check out this post for easy ideas.
- Have a Pirate Flag (Wish Amazon was more popular 12 years ago, this one is a deal). Whether someone gets to carry it around with you (warning other neighbors that they shouldn’t’ mess with you) or using tie wraps to attach it a neighborhood park play place. It makes for a great pirate ship.
- Have your older kids help by burying the treasure or they could arrive later as naughty pirates that try to steal the treasure. I know my kids would want to rise to the occasion and defend their booty.
Thanks for reading and don’t forget to pin this post!
For more treasure posts you can check out these post below:
You can also learn how to get free doughnuts at Krispie Kreme.
***Update*** Krispie Kreme is not longer giving away free donuts for Talk Like A Pirate Day.
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