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How to Design a Treasure Hunt for Kids

By Karen Kleinschmidt ; Updated April 18, 2017
Treasure hunts entice groups and individuals alike.

Treasure hunts can assist with team building and cooperation in the classroom, family bonding or an entertaining activity for a child's birthday party or other festivity. Depending on the age and skill level of the kids as well as how creative you want to be, treasure hunts can be designed for a specific theme or lesson. For very young children, use pictures instead of words and limit the number of clues to the age of the child, advises the "Baby Center" website.

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Basic Rules

Decide what type of treasure hunt you want to have. A scavenger hunt involves a list of items for the kids to find in a set amount of time, and a clue hunt requires leaving clues for them to follow at certain locations marked with an "X" on the map.

Use color-coded envelopes when writing out clues for each individual or team to avoid any mix-ups, advises Scholastic. For a map hunt, you can have individual or team prizes for each participant. If you desire to give a prize to everyone for a scavenger hunt, you can have a larger prize for the team with the most items and smaller prizes for the other participants.

Design your map according to the area you want the treasure hunt to take place in. For older children, it could be the backyard, the playground or the block you live on, while younger children will likely be amused in a smaller area, according to the "Scholastic" article, "Make Your Own Treasure Hunt!"

Scavenger Hunt

Choose the items you want the kids to find and devise a list for each player or team. Examples of items include books, small toys, office supplies and things found in nature.

Create a map that outlines their boundaries. For example, if it's a classroom activity, the boundaries may be the gym, lunchroom and three separate classrroms. For a neighborhood, it may be from the house on the corner to your house.

Decide on a meeting point and the amount of time the players will have to collect their items. The team or individual that collects the most items in the set amount of time is the winner.

Map Hunt

Choose your treasure and the location you wish to hide it. For a birthday party, you can hide party favors or goody bags, leading to the end the party, or the treasure can be a pinata, inviting your next activity.

Draw up your map. Put an "X" where the participants can expect to find each clue. Use an arrow to direct them from clue to clue or use written steps such as "walk 4 steps toward the garage, turn left and look for the purple flowers; you will find your next clue there," suggests Scholastic.

Divide the kids up into teams, if necessary. Present the kids with their maps and directions. Make yourself available for any questions or frustrations.


Use the instant treasure hunt game on the "Parents" website if you are short on time. The printable clues have fill in the blanks to help with the preparation.

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About the Author

Karen Kleinschmidt has been writing since 2007. Her short stories and articles have appeared in "Grandma's Choice," "Treasure Box" and "Simple Joy." She has worked with children with ADHD, sensory issues and behavioral problems, as well as adults with chronic mental illness. Kleinschmidt holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Montclair State University.

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