Fast & easy treasure hunts for young ones

Hubby is working today with the 4 oldest children, so I’m home with just the 5 middles/littles.  To add a bit of excitement to the day, we did 2 fast and easy treasure hunts.

The first was for the non-readers, 4yo Rachael and 2yo Perry.  8yo Natalie helped set this one up.  For this sort of hunt, each item needs to have a specific home, and the hunter needs to know where it belongs.  This hunt is most easily set up backwards.  Don’t bother to plan – just wing it when you do one of the these, and trust that the logistics will work out.

Just take an item from its home and hide it where it doesn’t belong.  Grab a second item from the place in which you hid the first, and do it again.  Here’s how we did ours:

The Put-it-away Treasure Hunt

  1. Grab a hairbrush from the hairbrush basket, and leave the prize in its place.  This is where the hunt ends.
  2. Put the hairbrush in the lego box and take a lego.
  3. Put the lego in the fridge and grab a bottle of Dad’s hot sauce.
  4. Put the hot sauce on the DVD shelf and grab a DVD.
  5. Put the DVD in The Boy’s dresser drawer and grab a pair of his underwear, even though he’s not in underwear yet.  He will be thrilled at the excuse to handle them.
  6. Put the underwear in computer cable drawer and grab a cable.
  7. Put the cable in Noah’s ark and grab the lion.
  8. Put the lion in the silverware drawer and take a butter knife.
  9. Put the butter knife on the canned goods shelf and take a can of corn.
  10. Put the corn in the hunter’s hand, and stand back!

Obviously you can vary this for your household, adjust the difficulty for different children, and leave a small treasure at each step, every other step, or just the end.  This was a lunch hunt, so we left a bit of food with every clue: 1/2 of a pbj, 1/2 of a banana, etc.  There was a starburst candy at the end for each hunter.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that our 2yo knew exactly where everything went.

Here’s what I set up for 7yo Becca and 8yo Natalie.  They took turns reading clues aloud (sneaky school).  If I wanted to spend more time I could make the clues longer and more cryptic.  As it was, we just had a few quick minutes of fun.

Again, it’s not necessary to plan extensively.  Just write up a handful of clues.  They can be indoors, outdoors, or a combination.  Keep one clue to kick things off.  Place each succeeding clue in the destination hinted at by the previous clue.  Hide it more or less thoroughly depending upon the craftiness and determination of the hunters and the amount of time you want to kill.

Here are the clues I used today:

Easy Reading Treasure Hunt

  1. Check the internet for your first clue.  (give this to the hunters; next clue goes somewhere near the computer)
  2. I’d like a hot drink.  Will you get a coffee cup?  (next clue goes where the mugs are kept)
  3. Bethany needs some fresh clothes (next clue goes in Bethany’s dresser drawer)
  4. Would you please warm up my coffee? (next clue goes where coffee mugs are kept)
  5. Somebody needs a diaper change.  Please bring me the wipes.  (next clue goes where the wipes are kept)
  6. You look tired.  You may take a nap on my bed.  (next clue is hidden under my pillow)
  7. Where do we keep the trash bags? (next clue goes near the trash bags)
  8. What a nice day to sit on the deck and swing! (this was the last clue: I put a box of instant pudding on the swing)

When they finished their hunt, Natalie and Becca carefully read the instructions on the instant pudding box and mixed up a treat for the 5 of us.


  1. I love doing this. My kids are too small to read the clues, but I will definitely try your “out of place” search!

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  3. I *love* this idea!!! How fun :o) I am thinking that this would be a GREAT way to get my boys (picky eaters) to eat more if I did a lunch hunt with food at every clue and would be a BIG treat for my big girl to have her very own hunt too!

    I can’t wait to try this! Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and the fun you have with your family!

    Blessings, Dana

  4. What a great idea! You could link to Help For Growing Families with this one, I think. I really love the non-reading hunt.

  5. These sound like great ideas!

    What we do at our house is a huge list of “ideas”. Things we’ve included in the past?
    – something that reminds you of your mom
    – something that makes you happy
    – something that warms (in any sense of the word)
    – the letter J (whatever this means to you)
    – hope (again, whatever this means to you)
    – etc.

    We’ve used this for little kids, and also at my 22nd birthday party this year! Everyone LOVED it because it is so creative and there are no right and wrong answers. (and we allow our guests free reign over our whole house except closed closets!)

    They are also great conversation starters for when everyone is done collecting there items.

    The best item I’ve ever seen in this scavenger hunt? An 18 year old grabbed a laundry basket full of clothing that “reminded him of his mom”! Cute!

    Anyway, thanks for sharing these great ideas!!!

  6. lovedandamazed says:

    I used to make these up when I was a child and play them with my friends. They were always so much fun!

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