How to Set Up a Treasure Hunt Game

What's more fun than dashing from clue to clue when you play treasure hunt?

how to play treasure hunt
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Kids are guaranteed to move (a lot), and giggle (a lot!), when you send them on a search for clues in a treasure hunt game. Try it indoors or out, for a birthday party, special occasion, or just a rainy day. Older kids can even be enlisted to set up a treasure hunt for littler siblings or cousins.

  • Difficulty: Easy to set up, unless you want to challenge yourself on the clues. Then, just stand back while kids play!
  • Time Required: 20-30 minutes for set-up; length of play time depends

How to Set Up and Play Treasure Hunt:

  1. Pick a prize (see Tips, below) and find a hiding place for it.
  2. Create your clues. Adapt them to your game players. For example, you'll want to make picture clues for pre-readers. Clip images from magazines and catalogs or find them online if your drawing skills are as weak as mine are. If your treasure-hunters are older kids or teens, challenge them with riddles, puns, or even math problems: Tell them they need to take 3x6 steps or turn 45 degrees, for example.
  3. Increase the activity level in your treasure hunt. With each clue, include directions on how to travel to the next hiding place: hopping, crawling, waving both hands in the air, and so on. You could even add one movement each time, so that by the end, kids are hopping on one foot while patting their head with one hand, giving a thumbs'-up with the other, singing a song ... you get the idea.
  1. Hide your clues. Again, adjust difficulty to match kids' abilities. Aim for challenge but not too much frustration. Consider hiding clues under rocks, inside plastic Easter eggs, between the pages of books, etc. Or see if you can find ways to leave messages without paper. Use magnetic letters on the fridge, say, or write on a chalkboard (or directly on the pavement outside).
  1. Set ground rules: No running in the house, no pushing other players aside, and so on, as needed.
  2. Hand over the first clue and set the wheels in motion!

What You Need to Play Treasure Hunt

  • Prize (see Tips for ideas)
  • Small slips of paper for clues
  • Creativity!

Tips for Playing Treasure Hunt

  1. Prizes can be anything from a large birthday or holiday gift—one that won't fit under the tree or next to the cake—to a small trinket (or several, one for each player) or healthy snack to share.
  2. Aim for a trail of three to four clues for kids five and under, and up to 10 clues for older children. You want your treasure hunt to keep them busy, but not discouraged.

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