How To Host A Treasure Hunt Children’s Party
Have you ever found hordes children in your home for a party just a little too much? Your furniture is being jumped on, piles of newly-ironed children’s clothing is being thrown about, the garden is not big enough and the dog is hiding under the stairs. There are five hours to go, and you’re beginning to wish it was all over.
A Treasure Hunt is one solution to keep the party guests busy, and works like a charm!
We were lucky in having a large park nearby. This was to be the location of the Hunt. My son was six, so I chose a Pirate theme
, and arranged to have a friendly uncle and my partner on hand to supervise the children. My partner and I began warming to the task of making clues. I remembered the time we made treasure maps at school and used the same technique.
Making Treasure Clues
If you feel like making these it’s fun, and does add to the excitement.
• Take sheets of paper and tear round the edges so they are uneven
• Take a wet tea bag and wipe over the surface of the paper, until it is pale golden in colour
• Put papers in a warm, dry place, like an airing cupboard or laundry room, to dry
• If you want to go for full authenticity you can burn the edges of the paper slightly, and blow out the flame quickly, to leave it charred
• Buy a length of thin red ribbon and cut into sections. After you have written the clues, roll each scroll up and tie with a bow
Children find these details very memorable. All the children (particularly the girls) wanted to take the clues and ribbon home with them to play with.
Planning your Treasure Hunt
It is important to walk the route that you want to send the children on first. Take a helper at this point, especially if they will be leading the hunt, so that you can spot natural landmarks and direct the children there. Someone will need to go out shortly before the hunt and plant the clues, too. In our park there were plenty of landmarks, e.g. a playground, a lake, an ornamental garden, woodland and a running track. We decided to use each of these as part of a task before the children could go on to solve the riddle and find the next clue. For example, a task might be ‘Go down the slide twice then return to finish the puzzle’, or ‘Run once around the running track’. This was useful as it extended the hunt, tired the children out and calmed them down so that they focused on the puzzle more easily.
Activities and Puzzles
Clues needed activities attached to them, since simply pointing the children to the next location would have meant the event was over very quickly. In practice the children loved trying to solve the puzzles as they went. It made each new location something they had worked for, rather than been given. We put the clues in waterproof boxes and hid them in bushes out of sight near to each location. Inside the box was the scroll with the clue on it and also a handful of candies to ratchet up the excitement. Make sure you put enough in for the number of guests. Anything else needed for the puzzles went in the box too eg. Code keys, dice, pencil for working out.
They’re Brighter Than You Imagine!
Clues and puzzles need thought. Children of six are more capable than you may think, especially when there is treasure at stake. We used puzzle books to help us. Code breaking was the most popular task. Letter substitution was successful – numbers for letters is a bit too easy, but a reversed alphabet kept them thinking for longer. Simple math’s questions can be made harder by using but three or four stage sums. Another good puzzle was a quiz, with the first letter of each answer spelling out the next location.
Run round the running track then do the following sums
E.g. 12 + 12 – 6 ÷ 2 (= 9 which equals 9th letter of the alphabet)
Throw this dice until you get three sixes, then answer the following questions. The first letter from each answer is your next location.
Who was Top of the charts this week?
Who was the act that left X Factor this week?
What type of animal is a kangaroo?
What is the name of the President’s oldest daughter?
What was striking was just how much the children loved being challenged in this way, before running for the next clue. I still think our clues were too easy, and they solved them in no time at all. Consider making them harder than you’d imagine they might manage, and offer a little help if needed. We did notice that the brighter, more dominant children tended to take over, which could leave to quieter ones left out. In this case, perhaps take charge of the task a little and try and include everyone, even if it is just the quietest one opening the box, reading out the clues, or unrolling the scroll.
After solving all the clues and riddles the children solved the final (extra hard) puzzle and found the location. It was the ornamental garden, where I was waiting with a treasure sack for each child, and a big bottle of drink to rehydrate them after all the running around. We then walked home for party food and cake, and parents arrived quite soon afterwards. There was no leaping around or silliness as the children were worn out. The girls sat rolling up the scrolls and tying them with bows, the boys just showed off about who solved the most clues. It was one of the most successful parties I ever hosted, and they children went home satisfied, feeling like they’d achieved something and succeeded at something, which is always a great with little ones. They were proud of themselves…
… and rightly so.