Reduce, reuse, recycle treasure hunt for kids

recycle treasure hunt

For a few years now my daughter has really enjoyed obstacle courses – any combination of activities that she needs to complete in order to achieve a goal. Treasure hunts, however, haven’t been such a thing, apart from a scavenger hunt here and there.


Recently, we visited another expat/missionary family that we know. They have a daughter a few years older than ours, and she is very into treasure hunts! The two girls really got on well, and enjoyed doing treasure hunts together. After our visit, I was inundated with requests for treasure hunts!


Fortunately, while we were visiting, our friends had shown us a really easy way to set up a treasure hunt for kids (especially those who can’t read yet). It really takes minimal input – all you need is a couple of pieces of scrap paper, a writing implement, and some rudimentary drawing skills! The results are hours of fun.


First you need to identify some fairly fixed structure in your target treasure hunt area (I did two, one for inside the house and one for outside, although they can be combined for a longer treasure hunt). Secondly, you divide your papers into 4-8 by folding. You then draw a picture of each item, one per square on the page. After you have drawn them, you can cut or tear the paper so that you have individual pictures. Shuffle this pile of papers, picture side up (alternatively, you can order them intentionally – the top paper will be the final treasure hiding place, and the bottom will be the starting paper).


To set up the treasure hunt, first hide the treasure at the location featured on the top picture. Once you have done this, fold the top paper in half. Take the folded paper, and hide it at the location featured in the next paper down. Then fold that paper, and hide it in the location featured in the picture underneath it. Continue in this way until you are left with only one piece of paper. Hand this to your child and watch them scurry off in excitement to try and figure out what you have drawn and where the papers are hidden!


Have your child bring all the papers back, and keep them for the next time you need a treasure hunt. Each time shuffle or arrange the papers in a different way, for constant variation.


In case you are wondering what to do for ‘treasure’ in a low-input hunt, here are some ideas my daughter enjoys:

  • A fruit or snack she would otherwise have eaten anyway
  • Small recycled bottles good for using as vases
  • A stem or small posy of flowers picked from the garden
  • Gifts sent by family members

It doesn’t have to be an expense to have a treasure hunt! Enjoy hunting for these recycled clues and treasures with your kids.

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