To arrange a great outdoor treasure hunt for preschool kids you should start reading the 3 tips/advice I give on the main page here about picture scavenger hunts for kids.
These tips are even more important when you arrange the treasure hunt to take place in a garden, in the neighborhood, on a beach or in a park.
With that taken care of I must say that arranging these treasure hunts outside can be so much fun, because they somehow call on making the treasure hunt wil a couple more posts, and especially if these posts are “live” posts.
I would make the scavenger hunt with drawings, just like you find it described here and as you see below, and you can leave it with that. It will still be really fun for the kids, and it is not always easy for the little ones to find the hidden clues, it can be really difficult as you can see below on the photos.
If there is any chance of rain, or if you want to place the clues/drawings the day before the birthday, remember to place then in plastic bags.
Outdoor Treasure Hunt with Riddles and “Live” Posts:
Here on this page I will add some suggestions for posts where the team has to solve a riddle (here I take it for granted that there is an adult or older sister/brother following the team, to help them reading and solving the riddle,if the riddle is presente with a “dead” post), and I will add suggestions for “live” posts.
First 3 riddles for the treasure hunt:
1. In an envelope there is a drawing of a cat, a wizard or something else – and 4 different almost alike shadows. Now the kids have to find out what shadow belongs to the cat (wizard and so on). The team brings the drawing with them to the next post, which should be “live”, or they bring it to the end of the treasure hunt, where it will be checked.
You can use the drawing below, or make one yourself. There will also be a lot of these “guess the shadow” drawings on the internet.
2. Take a photo of the birthday child, close up. Print it out, and glue the photo to a piece of cardboard (You can also use photos of a cute cat, a dog, a fish – whatever you like :-))
Now you cut it into 9 pieces, making a simple puzzle. Cut out another piece of cardboard, the same size as the first one.
Put all the puzzle pieces and the big cardboard in a bag, with a note that the team has to assemble the puzzle and glue it to the cardboard (with glue that the adult brings along, or you can use double sided tape), then bring it to the “live” post.
3. Make a drawing of 3 children at the botom on a piece of paper, on the top a drawing of 3 items like an ice cream cone, a cat and a lollipop.
Mark a very curved line from each of the children to one of the things.
Now it is up to the treasure hunt team to find out which child gets to what item. They will need a colored pencil to help them.
Again they shall take the solved riddle to a “live” post to have it checked.
You can use this drawing, but I have also made it to show that as long a the kids can see what it shall look like, you don’t have to be a great artist!
If the children taking part in the treasure hunt are 4 years old and it is their first treasure hunt, one “live” post is what they can cope with, and it should be a person they know.
This adult, or older brother or sister, can be dressed up, but only lightly, maybe as a fairy or a knight, but nothing scary as a witch, and not dressed up so that the kids cannot recognize the person. The whole thing can be confusing enough as is it, with running around finding posts, learning to solve where the clue leads to and so on.
When the children get older and more used to scavenger hunts or finding the treasure, you can introduce a couple “live” posts with riddles or tasks to be solved before the team can continue.
A fairy will still be a good idea, it can easily be connected with the outdoor theme as the summer fairy, the tree fairy or just a fairy. It’t not scary, so you can go a long way dressing up here.
A knight is good for a birthday party with a lot of boys.
An animal will be good for almost anything, so if you or some of your friends happen to have an animal costume, like a bunny or a lion, you should use it, even if you can’t think of any good reason why there should be a lion in this treasure hunt 🙂 Just for the fun of it, and the children will love it.
A princess is just what all the little girls will love to meet.
Any costume will actually work. It can be just a wig, some strange glasses, a weird hat and coat. Even when the kids can clearly see who the person is (and this is good) it gives the whole treasure hunt a touch of something strange and exotic, a bit scary but certainly something they remember.
A witch or wizard will be OK, as long as you make shure it is not scary. A lot of 4-5 year old kids can easily be scared in this new and strange situation. So if you do this, make sure it is a very, very nice witch and wizard.