A treasure hunt is a simple but effective way to entertain children at home. You don’t need much to get started. The treasure can be as simple as fresh baked cookies; one way to always be prepared for an impromptu treasure hunt is to stock up on small gifts from the local dollar store. Clues are the most important aspect of this activity. To prolong the fun, offer a mix of easy and moderately difficult clues leading the children to hiding places in and outside of your home.
Rhyming riddles are the type of clues most people associate with treasure hunts. Making up a rhyming riddle is pretty simple; it’s basically a two or four line poem. Remember, you’re writing these for your children and not your English professor, so silly is okay, as long as they can figure out the item your describing. For example, if you hide a clue behind the sofa, you might say “There’s pillows and cushions on me, I’m a great place to watch TV.” A riddle can also be a simple description. For instance, if you hide a clue in a blue shoe, the riddle might be “I’m blue and usually under the bed” or “I’m blue and I stink!”
If you have a digital camera and a printer, you can create great clues with pictures. Use the camera to take a close up of the hiding spot. The picture needs to be recognizable, but not easily recognizable. Then print the picture and hide it as one of the clues.
A simple clue to make is a puzzle clue. First, in large letters, write down the location of one of the hiding spots. Then cut or tear the paper into randomly shaped large pieces. Crumble the individual pieces up to make piecing the puzzle back together a little more difficult. The puzzle pieces are a great way to start the treasure hunt. You can also use puzzle pieces to direct the overall game. Instead of using each clue to lead to the final treasure, you can use each clue to lead to another piece of the puzzle. Finding all the puzzle pieces and putting the puzzle together would then be the way to find the final hiding place for the treasure.
A simple, but fun to solve clue is a word scramble. Use a scrap piece of paper to write down your next location. Now write the letters of the word again out of order. For example, if the next location you want them to find is the “front porch” you will write the clue as “R-T-F-N-O” and “C-R-H-O-P.” The children will need to unscramble the word to discover the clue. It will easier for younger children to unscramble a single word, but you can use a phrase or description to make deciphering the clue harder for older children.
A map is a tried and true clue for a treasure hunt. If you’re not a gifted artist, don’t worry. You can easily make a map of symbols or use pictures from a magazine to indicate locations. A map is especially suitable for outdoor treasure hunts because you can include directions like “Take ten skips west” or “run 12 feet north” to move them from one clue hiding spot to another.