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Activity

Follow the Word Trail: Organize a Treasure Hunt

 

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Follow the Word Trail: Organize a Treasure Hunt

Grades 3 – 8
Activity Time 1-2 hours to plan the hunt, then 30 minutes to find the treasure.
Activity Author

Dylan Smith

Dylan Smith

Portland, Oregon

 
Publisher National Council of Teachers of English
 

What You Need

Here's What To Do

More Ideas To Try

Glossary

 

What You Need

  • Paper
  • Writing/drawing utensil
  • Treasure/prize (any small token that your child is interested in such as art supplies, baseball cards, a treat, etc.)

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Here's What To Do

  1. Decide on a treasure.  Anything will do, but the occasion is a great opportunity for children to create something personal, such as a friendship bracelet, Fimo sculpture, drawing, etc.  In the instance of an adult organizing the treasure hunt, some basic art supplies might do for a fun prize.
  2. The hunt organizer scouts the designated area for good hiding places.  Keep in mind that each hiding place is meant to contain a written clue that leads to the next hiding place, eventually guiding the hunter to the hidden treasure.  The clues are going to be written on folded notes, so nearly any nook or cranny will do for a hiding place.  Hiding places can be behind things, under things, even inside things, such as a mailbox, but be sure to stay away from dangerous areas, such as vehicles or roads.
  3. For each hiding place, the organizer writes out a clue on a sheet of note paper.  The idea is to describe the hiding place rather than naming it outright.  For example, in the case of a mailbox, avoid using directly related words like “mail” or “box,” and try for something more abstract, such as
    • Bills and birthday cards are left in me by the person in the white jeep. I hang by the door all the day long and I don’t ever utter a peep.
  4. Imagine a pirate leaving coded clues for himself that he doesn’t want others finding and easily deciphering, leading them to his secret treasure.  Be careful not to be too tricky, though; the clues should be fun and imaginative, not impossible to figure out.  Each clue should contain multiple sentences or phrases.  Have fun with the words: try using rhyme, humor, and figurative language.  Keep key features in mind while describing hiding places, like color, shape, and size.  Also, consider formulating the clues as limericks or short poems.
  5. When all the clues are written out, number them to keep them in order.  Now it’s time for the hunt organizer to hide the clues.  The first clue describes the first hiding place and is not to be hidden.  Rather, the first hiding place should contain the second clue (to the second hiding place, which contains the third clue), and so on.  Remember, each clue is meant to direct the treasure hunter to the hiding place of the next clue, and does not describe its own hiding place.  Be careful to hide the clues properly or the game won’t work.  After hiding all the clues, the hunt organizer then hides the secret treasure in the final hiding place.
  6. Now it’s time for the hunter(s) to seek the treasure.  The hunt organizer gives the treasure hunter(s) the first clue, and the hunt gets under way.  The hunt organizer participates in the progress of the activity as much as the treasure hunter(s), following along to offer hints and help clear up any confusion that arises from the wording of the clues.  Have fun!

 

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More Ideas To Try

  • Try writing your clues in the voice of one of your favorite storybook characters. You might even make a treasure that relates to that character. For example, if the character is Harry Potter, the treasure might be a new magic wand or cloak made by the treasure hunt organizer.
  • Use the treasure hunt for specific holidays or celebrations, such as finding birthday gifts, an Easter basket, or the matzo, or to familiarize children with a new place.
  • Instead of a treasure hunt, try writing directions to your favorite outdoor games such as four square or hide and seek, using rhyme, figurative language, or humor. Collect them into a booklet and illustrate it to play with friends.

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Glossary

Rhyme

 

Identical or very similar sounds in words (for example, cat and hat or book and look).

Figurative Language

 

Language that alters or exaggerates the literal definitions of its component words.

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