Melbourne writer, reader and Managing Editor of Lip Magazine. www.lipmag.com
Published July 29th 2010
A treasure hunt is limited to pirates and deep-sea divers looking for sunken ships and chests filled with gold, right? Wrong. A treasure hunt, or puzzle hunt, is a game involving a hidden article of some sort and a set of clues intended to assist the 'hunter' in finding it.
They have been a popular form of children's entertainment for years, typically organised by adults at birthday parties, or at Easter time where kids are let loose in the backyard to collect as many chocolate eggs as they can.
But there's no reason why the kiddies should have all the fun! Treasure hunt games are extremely simple, are limited only by your imagination and adults can have an absolute ball! All you need is some time, some 'treasure' to hide (this works well with birthday gifts!) and a willing participant.
First, (secretly) hide your treasure. You can hide it wherever you like – around the house, in the neighbourhood, wherever – it's totally up to you. Don't make it too difficult for your hunter, though. Burying a gift box three feet under the lawn probably isn't a good idea. Be aware of weather conditions and if conducting your treasure hunt in the neighbourhood, be respectful of public property.
Once you've hidden your treasure, hand your hunter their first clue, or put it in an obvious spot for them to find on their own. You could even keep your identity a surprise until the end of the game! The clues will lead them to other clues, which will ultimately lead them to their treasure. You should prepare your clues earlier, and you can be as creative or as cryptic as you like. Perhaps you could write poems or rhymes that increase in difficulty as the game progresses.
Here is an example:
I have five wheels,
Doors I have four,
Other bits I've many more.
Take a seat,
Search near your feet,
Clue number two will be nearby."
The game ends when the hunter finds their treasure, after which they will probably shower you with gratitude for all your time and effort. (And what's better than that, right?)
Mums and dads, if you're keen on organising a treasure hunt for your little ones, confine the hunt to the house or yard, and keep clues simple and in line with their reading abilities. You could hide sweet treats, toys or even puzzle pieces. They'll enjoy themselves while improving their reading and problem solving skills at the same time.
I used to play a treasure hunt game at my friend's place when I was little but it was more of a lazy parent's version as it required a lot less effort and creativity. My friend's Dad would hide a $2 coin in a room and then draw a very basic 2D map of the room with an x (to mark the spot). We then had to figure out which room the map was depicting and whereabouts in the room the $2.00 coin was. Simple but so entertaining for small children! We absolutely loved playing this game.
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