Our Mystery Map and Backyard Treasure Hunt was so much fun!
This is a great outdoor activity, and while it’s still quite hot outside as I write this, fall is coming. (Please hurry!!)
When I did this with my girls, I actually drew the map. I love maps, and I love floor plans, so for me it was astounding fun to create a layout of the backyard. Another option, however, is letting your kids make the map. Or make it a collaborate effort. It really depend on the ages of your children.
My main goal here, however, was the treasure hunt, as opposed to the map making. The latter, of course, is a great activity too, but instead of making the map, I had my kids navigate the one I made. With the goal of finding treasure!
I got some new small toys (in this case, Tsum Tsums mini plush) and hid them inside some large-sized Easter eggs. Then I hid the eggs outside, handed the kids the map, and let them loose.
The instructions I had given them were to search the yard and make marks on the map to assist in the search.
Essentially, their mission was to mark off on the map each time they found an egg, and to cross off sections they searched which did not contain eggs.
As you can see below, I included everything from a bird bath to the tree swing on my map, but it doesn’t have to be that detailed. Unless you’re obsessive like me – then go all out!
My kids decided to use the two colors of markers for different purposes. They chose purple to circle the places where they found eggs, and pink to cross off the places they looked that were egg-less. I’d let them know there were four eggs, so they also knew when to stop.
Then they got to open their treasure eggs. So the hunt was fun, the treasure was exciting, and I was happy because they were outside in the fresh air. Wins all around.
No backyard? No worries! This can also be done inside (drawing couches and tables instead of trees), or you can head to your local park. If you’re planning a treasure hunt in a public place, however, you may want to hide vouchers of a sort that they can trade in for eggs, so that your kid can still find something but you don’t have to worry about someone else walking off with the treasure.
And, of course, y’all know I’m gonna talk about books if I get the change, right??
This was a project we did awhile ago (what can I say – it’s been a weird few years *shrugs*), but I got excited when I found a recent picture book that goes along with nicely with this type of activity.
The Boy Who Loved Maps by Kari Allen and G. Brian Karas is such a fun exploration of map making! It follows two children through the process of making a map of their neighborhood – and also exploring different places around the neighborhood – so if you’re already making a map of your backyard like we did here, this book makes a great visual for kids.
It has some educational backmatter to help you describe map making to kids, and it can give them ideas for drawing their own. Plus, it’s also an adorable story! The language used to describe their environment is nothing short of magical. I definitely recommend reading it.
You can get it at your local library or here:
I’d love to hear about any similar activities that your family has done!
Happy Treasure Hunting!