Treasure Hunts

One of our favorite, favorite family activities are scavenger hunts.  I think I got the idea from an Easter issue of Family Fun magazine years ago.  By the way, what a great magazine! In fact, I still have a huge stack of old issues that my kids often read through to get new ideas for crafts, games, simple recipes, etc….  If you have young kids, I would highly recommend it.

But that’s beside the point…  what started as something to get my kids outside and out of my hair, has now turned into a full-blown art form within our house.  When they were much younger, I used to give them a couple of handwritten clues that eventually led them to a piece of gum, a bouncy ball, or some other very trite prize.  While I still often use a little treasure as the goal, it’s become an all-out game at our house.  When it’s Valentine’s day, the cousins visit, or one child just needs a pick-me-up, the Treasure Hunt is the go-to event.  In fact, my kids will often create their own for me.  Case in point, when my husband and I recently went out of town, my daughter had set up an elaborate scavenger hunt for me (I had to walk all over the property and it took about 30 minutes!) in order to find the piece of coconut cream pie she had purchased for me at the little restaurant downtown.

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a clue example

I’ve become a little more sophisticated about the hunts; now all the clues are printed out in some funky font, and often color-coded.  I often route the clues to different places per child.  It just got to be a huge hassle when one would find a clue before someone else and “ruin” it for them.  Still, sometimes I rhyme the clues, make references to books we’ve read, use scriptures (a la the Scripture Sleuth books) but I always try to make them something they not only have to figure out, but can figure out.  It must have personal meaning or some relevance to their lives.  As they get older, the clues are progressively harder, and unless the weather is bad, it’s a given that they have to go outside for at least part of it.

Reading Clue #1
Reading Clue #1

It doesn’t have to take long to put together either.  The hardest part is often figuring out a rhyme, if I’m rhyming.  Other than that, it’s best to place the clues from last to first, or, at least number them and make a copy for me as I’m hiding them.  Otherwise, it’s all too easy to get the clues out of order, and mess up the hunt!

This will wear 'em out!
This will wear ’em out!

This'll wear 'em out quick!

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There are certain things my parents did for me when I was growing up that definitely became tradition in my life, and thus the life of my family.  I daresay that the Treasure Hunt will be something my kids will continue for their families; it’s just that much fun!

Figuring out the next clue
Figuring out the next clue
Even the dogs get in on the fun...
Even the dogs get in on the fun…

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At last!  They’ve finished the hunt – now it’s time for some ice cream, and maybe a shower to wash off their sweaty, grubby, happy bodies!

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