If you need an engaging activity for a bunch of active kids and have no time to prepare, here is a wonderful solution. A treasure hunt! You can plan one in no time and with no pre-preparation.
You can plan a treasure hunt in your own backyard or wherever you can find some space. It works well in a forested area although you can twist the details to suit any place. All you need is
- a few sheets of paper
- drawing pins
- a plastic bag
- some chalk
- snacks and drinks for the kids
Make Two Groups
Split the kids into two groups, each with an adult to lead or help. Send Group 1 to someplace away from your treasure hunt ground for half an hour. Now, Group 2 has a headstart of half an hour during which they are to hide, and leave their trail using marks, directions, arrows etc. Group 1 has to find them using those directions and complete some assignments on the way.
Group 2 Plans the Trail
Start at your door with an arrow. This arrow may consist of chalk, stones, twigs, etc. Take care that your arrows or letters do not fly away. Mark the road about every 50 meters. Your opponents can also be misled by making some confusing directions. You can, for e.g. draw an arrow to the left and after a 100 meters or so, write a message saying that they are wrong and have to go back.
Design Some Assignments to be Carried Out
Along the way the first group also hides some assignments. Draw an arrow on the ground to indicate that there is a note with a mission to be completed. Examples of assignments are: dance the Elf/Fairy dance or jump for five minutes, find ten white pebbles, turn 10 times around a tree, zigzag through the woods for 10 minutes, count the bales in the field, how many windows does the house number 105 have, collect 10 pine cones etc. Let the children come up with the assignments themselves – they are full of imagination and find this fun!
The adult in charge of the second group has to ensure that the group two does all the assignments correctly. After about half an hour, group two begins their trail, following the instructions of Group 1. Along the way they carry out the assignments, and pick up objects in a plastic bag and write the answers to the questions.
Role Reversal and Play Time
Halfway through, turn the roles. The members of Group 2 are now to hide. Group 1 now has to back track their own directions and find Group 2! Finally, Group 2 can shout from the bushes and make Group 1 jump! Now give the two groups a break where, together, they can engage in a game of football, tag, hide and seek etc. And while they do so, give them something thirst quenching to drink and some snacks to nibble.
Group 1 Forms the Trail Now
Now, Group 1 leaves for the trail back, while Group 2 continues to stay at the same place. Group 1 will now design and make up the assignments and hide like Group 2 did earlier. Find original hiding places, e.g. a hollow tree, tall grass, etc. Indicate exactly where the assignments are.
Group 2 To Find Group 1 and Execute Assignments
Group 2 must now find and execute all the assignments. After giving Group 1 a head start, ask Group 2 to begin their treasure hunt. In this way, all the children will have done everything once. Group 1 can either go straight home or the starting point, or you can again agree that the end point is a playground or an open space.
A Few Tips to Remember
1. Carry water, drinks and some snacks to nibble where the kids stop to play.
2. hand the kids small water or juice bottles and some trail mix to eat on the way.
3. And finally, make sure to collect all the paper instructions and pins back, leave nothing behind in the woods.
Children find it amusing to chase each other, invent and carry out assignments, to see whether the other group catches up with them or not, and to try to outsmart each other. A nice, fun afternoon is guaranteed!