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Children love the thrill of treasure hunts – whether it’s for Easter eggs, as birthday party fun or  part of a rainy-day game.

Treasure hunts are fun for the whole family and can be used to entertain children of all ages. Plus they can be adjusted to suit most occasions and will work inside or outdoors. While treasure hunts keep children entertained and active, they have other benefits as well. Children learn to interact with others and work as a team. The search develops creative thinking skills and builds logic and reason. It also allows children to explore their surroundings and learn more about their environment.

Here are some treasure hunting tools to help get you started

  • Location: whether inside or outside, you will need some space in which to conduct your hunt. If a lot of children are joining in, look for a bigger space. Children will get excited, so ensure that any dangerous areas, like the pool, are avoided.
  • Map: this should resemble the basic outlay of your location. But you can also include creative elements, such as a castle, a pirate treasure cave or a forbidden forest. Maps can also include all of the places where clues are hidden, or can be cut into pieces which are hidden in different places to lead to the final treasure.
  • Clues: part of the learning experience is figuring out the clues. You can hide these at different locations, with each one leading to the next hiding place. Clues will need to be age appropriate and can include riddles, puzzles or pictures. For toddlers, you can leave a trail of footprints or coloured objects for them to follow.
  • Compass: teach older children about direction by getting them to read a compass. Use clues such as: 10 steps east, 3 steps north.
  • Treasure: you will need to have some sort of treasure at the end of the hunt. If it’s for a party, make the party packs your treasure. Or use biscuits, fruit or other sweet alternatives. On a rainy day, you can even hide a DVD or story book at the end.

Read our tips on planning an age-appropriate birthday party and find out more the joy of family rituals

Top tips to make your hunts extra fun

  • Theme your hunt: if your hunt is for a birthday party, adjust it to match your theme. For a fairy party, go in search of fairy dust and a magic wand. Cowboys and Indians? Ride around the “Wild West” looking for treasure.
  • Educational hunts: ask children to find items that start with a certain letter, or five of the same type of flower, or three red items from the garden. Making the hunt about nature also helps children learn about the environment.
  • Scavenger hunt: give children a list of items to find, in the garden or the house. Let them use an old digital camera so that they can take pictures of everything on the list.
  • Hide and seek: Easter egg hunts often do this, where children look in one area for as many eggs as they can find. Add to the fun with Easter recipes and inspiration.
  • Spy mission: turn the hunt into a secret mission by using coded clues that children have to decipher.
  • Activity hunt: you can include activities along the way, such as an obstacle course or tasks that children have to do before they can get the next clue.

Tamlyn Vincent