This past weekend, I was organizing the photo albums on the computer and came across some birthday party pictures from a few years ago. (My, how quickly the time goes, and how quickly the kids grow! Enjoy your children!)
This birthday party in particular was one in which we, with the assistance of my niece, set up an elaborate treasure hunt for the kids.
All kids love a good scavenger or treasure hunt, and so we had decided to incorporate two into our kid’s birthday party; one hunt for our son and his friends, and one for our daughter and hers.
Our children’s birthdays are within days of each other, so we often celebrate both birthdays on the same day. Since my daughter is 4 years older than my son, the clues for her treasure hunt were a little more complicated than the one for our son. Other than that, the way the treasure hunt worked was the same.
How we prepared the outdoor treasure hunt:
We started by drawing a large colorful map of our property.
We included a picture of our house, a few of the other buildings on the property, the treed garden areas, a pomegranate tree, the dog houses, the boys fort, the area where the trampoline and jungle gym are, etc.
The map had to be simple enough that a six year old could easily recognize the landmarks.
Then we carefully drew a dotted line on the picture, similar to a pirate’s map, that led all around the yard to a buried treasure.
It began at the boys fort, went to the climbing ropes and swings hanging from a jacaranda tree, over to the trampoline, into and out of a dog house, up the lemon tree, the cactus patch and frog pond and on and on.
After we completed the map, we carefully cut the map up into pieces so that it looked like a giant jigsaw puzzle. This is the tricky part and requires a little planning before you start, as each piece of the puzzle must show a path to an area where the next piece is hidden.
Once all the pieces are cut, they were hidden in sequential order throughout our yard. The kids would only be given the first piece of the map. After that, it would be up to them.
Each piece of the puzzle/map only showed a small part of the map. It showed where on the map the kids were standing when they were holding that piece of map, and showed a dotted line to the next general area in the yard that they must proceed to, in order to find the next hidden piece of the map.
Once they got to the next area of the yard, they had to turn the puzzle piece over. On the back was a poem or riddle, and the answer to the riddle was a clue to exactly where they would find the next piece of the map.
My niece helped out with the planning of the party, and she wrote all the riddles, poems and clues for each puzzle piece. She also went with the kids when they did the treasure hunt to assist if they got confused.
So on the big day, when our son opened his final birthday card, he found a note and a piece of map. The note said that his final birthday present had been hidden by pirates, and there was a clue written on the back of the small piece of map. The treasure hunt begins!!
They started with that small piece of map that showed a path to the swings and ropes hanging from the jacaranda tree. On the back of the map piece was a written clue; a little poem about a monkey that stuck his hand in a hole in the ground.
Since there were several ropes hanging from the tree, the kids knew it must have something to do with the rope with the monkey-fist knot tied at the end. They climbed the rope, and found the next map piece and clue in the tree. Off they went to find the next clue.
As they worked their way around the yard, they gathered map pieces and clues. They laid the map pieces out on the ground so that their map would make more sense. And once they found the last piece of the map, they could see a dotted line that led to an X on the ground, with instruction to “dig here!”
We had recently been doing some building on the property and there was a small pile of gravel left over. That’s where we buried the ‘treasure’.
The treasure consisted of a cardboard shoe box, and inside were numerous small party gifts for each treasure hunter, like squirt guns and funny looking fake hillbilly dentures, along with candy treats that any six year old boy would enjoy; toxic-waste bubble gum, bug shaped candies, box of boogers, candy eyeballs, and zit popper gummies.
It took nearly an hour for them to complete. They loved it and immediately wanted us to set up another hunt. The girls hunt was similar, but took a different path through the yard. I don’t know who had more fun; the kids, my niece who helped them, or my husband and I as we watched.
Great memories and fun for them… and for me as well. 😀