Hunting for treasures
Today I spotted a small plastic shape in the sand. I picked it up, as I try to collect any beach litter I see and drop it into the next bin. Closer inspection revealed that this particular bit of plastic was actually a tiny toy robot, weathered but cute, and so instead of binning it I offered it to a little boy walking nearby with his mum. “Cool!” he said cheerfully as he gave it a thorough looking over, “I’ll add it to my treasures”. With that he pulled a little ziplock bag of odds and ends from his pocket. In went the robot, and off went the young treasure hunter.
That got me thinking about treasure hunts - they’re such an easy and creative way to get children looking carefully around them and exploring a space. It’s really easy to inspire a treasure hunt by making a list of items for your child to search for. Old paper bags and envelopes can be handy props for this. Pre-schoolers are the best hunters as they’re less inclined to put small things in mouths. Here are some ideas to get your little treasures out a-huntin’…
Paper bag treasure hunt
I’ve posted before about paper bag treasure hunts. I love their simplicity, and that you can set one up for your kids anywhere: at home, indoors or out. Simply jot a list of items onto a paper bag, then challenge the kids to collect them in the bag. Modify your ‘treasure’ list to suit your own space and season (e.g. a red petal, an orange leaf, a piece of bark). You can use this idea at birthday parties, in teams, or as a fun way to get children exploring a park.
Op shop treasure hunt
I’m not really a person who enjoys shopping, but I am a big fan of op shops. After all they are the original re-cyclers, they make a financial contribution to community organisations, and provide opportunities for volunteers. They can also be a top spot for children to “test drive” some independence. Pop an appropriate amount of money into an envelope (three gold coins is usually heaps) and write something like the following list on the front. Visit the op shop and let the child search for, the things on their list and then make their purchase. I’ve seen some priceless interactions between kindly op shop volunteers and children over the years. Your list could include:
something to read
something to wear
something to give
Holiday treasure hunts
A camping treasure hunt is great fun. You can send the kids off to find ‘treasures’ such as the following:
the longest leaf
a v-shaped twig
a piece of bark
Beaches are scattered with special treasures such as shells, seaweed shapes and pebbles - but be mindful that not all treasures should be taken home. In nature it’s best to collect, inspect and enjoy things such as shells and pebbles, but then encourage your children to leave them behind as you depart. Celebrate those natural treasures, but be a good role model: “take only photos, and leave only footprints”.
An urban treasure hunt can be a bit more of a challenge, there’s a pretty clear line between scatter and litter! But in Melbourne CBD this week my kids and I delighted in the variety of shapes of fabulous Autumn leaves still scattered on footpaths. If you’re having a day in town with the kids, and they have their eyes peeled, the following treasures might be spotted for collecting:
a ticket or tag
a business card
a bottle cap
Enjoy the hunt!