I’ve always thought it would be a fun to make a treasure map for my preschooler. What actually motivated me to do it now was that I know a kindergartener who is having a hard time remembering how to identify certain numbers (like 11, 12, and 13). I wanted to come up with a fun way for him to be motivated to remember what each number means. Combining these two ideas worked out better than I imagined. The kids are motivated not only to read the numbers so they can follow the map and find the treasure, but I can actually hide the map itself and get them go through a series of less fun challenges (like matching upper and lower case letters) as a way to earn the map’s location. They also enjoy playing “pirates” with the map and treasure after we were done.
Recommended Age Range: Preschool, Kindergarten, Early Elementary
Time Required ~1 hour first time, ~30 minutes each time after
Cost Less than $5 in used supplies (depending on how elaborate your treasure is)
- free, downloadable treasure map document
- contact paper (or laminator)
- pen or marker
- tape (to attach signs to wall)
- tea bag (optional – to make paper look older)
- treasure! (I used a wooden jewelry box with mardi gras beads and fake money, but I don’t think it really matters. My kids would be just as motivated to find gummy snacks or a stuffed animal.)
Supplies & Tools:
- Print out free, downloadable treasure map document.
- Use contact paper or laminator to laminate 8 signs which are visual clues to follow to find the treasure.
- Rip the edges off a blank sheet of paper and crumple it several times.
- [Optional] Make a cup of tea, then use the tea bag to paint the paper with tea. Let dry. (Drying took approximately 4 hours for me, but could be sped up with a blow dryer or dehydrator.)
- Decide where you want the child to walk (i.e. down the hallway, around the kitchen island, up the stairs, etc.). I use a rough draft or two to layout my map, so I don’t make mistakes on my “old” paper.
- Count the number of steps along each leg of the journey. My preschooler takes such small steps, that I generally am practically walking heel to toe when I count steps. I also adjust slightly to include harder numbers on my map (10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 20, etc.). So far I’ve followed along on the treasure hunts to correct along the way where needed, but I think with the visual signs, older kids could do it on their own.
- Place the start sign on the floor pointing in the right direction where you want the child to start.
- Tape the clue signs on the wall along the way and make a note of where they fall on your map.
- Make the final map using a pen or marker on your “old” paper. Cut out and glue the little pictures from the printout to show where the child should look for each of the clues on the journey (i.e. the Cyclops, the mermaids, etc.).
- Give the child the map and show them where to start. (Or do what I do and hide the map and make them work for the map’s location.)
Click here for more Counting and Number Recognition activities for kids.
Homemade Kindergarten Fun
Best Books for Kindergarteners
Cute idea, Michelle! I might be able to use this in my speech and language therapy sessions with my students!
That’s great! I hope you guys have fun.
Michelle! I LOVE this treasure hunt activity. My kids make treasure hunts with one another, they will be thrilled to have mommy join along with your amazing printable and activity. Thanks so much!
Thank you so much! I was recently thinking about making a printable that was just a toy treasure map so my kids could use it during their fantasy play (and I could just reprint it when it got destroyed). My son is obsessed with Peter Pan at the moment and he LOVES this game, but it does take a little while to set up.
I love this idea, and I love how you’ve used pictures so it can be used with even really young kids. I bet my three year old would go nuts for this. :) Thanks for the idea.
Thank you! I hope your 3 year old has fun. :)