You can make the treasure hunt in an apartment, a house, a house with a garden, or even outdoors like in a park.
I will repeat the advice that I also wrote on the main page for scavenger hunts, because they are so important especially when you are arranging scavenger hunts for preschool kids, if you want to be sure it will be a success.
1st advice: As a general rule I would say that you should start making treasure hunts and scavenger hunts for birthdays and other arrangements when the kids turn 4, but as there are often kids of different ages invited as guests, 3 year old kids can join in. Although then I would recommend one of their parents to take part in the game.
2nd advice: Another general tip is: Let the scavenger hunt consist of as many posts as the birthday child is old, maybe one more, but not more than that.
We as adults often overestimate how much these children can cope with, because if we have them on their own, they can normally handle more than this. But when they are in a group and excited about finding the posts and in the end the treasure – well, these normally concentrated kids tend to focus totally on running fast to the next post even before they have really found out where it is – they forget everything about working together and wait for the whole group to go together – and most ot the children run out of concentration really fast.
3rd advice: This is also the reason why I strongly advice that every group of children participating in the scavenger hunt is accompanied by an adult, who can help them wait till they actually know where to go next, help them stay together and take care of the not so fast children, and help the ones who get tired in the middle of it all.
OK, now let’s get to the picture scavenger hunt:
1. If there are more than 5-6 children to attend the scavenger hunt, I recommend you make two or more teams, each with 4-6 children. And YOU should make the teams, to make sure (as sure as one can) that the teams will work out fine.
If there is only one team, I think I would make the birthday child the “captain” of the team, unless the birthday child will be uncomfortable with that role.
2. When the picture scavenger hunt starts you give each team a drawing of a drawer, a kitchen table or someplace else where you have hidden the next clue, with a very clear sign of WHERE in the drawer, or WHERE at the kitchen table the clue is hidden, using red arrows or other clear signs to show it.
Then, at this next post they will find a new drawing, showing where to find the next post, and so on. You have placed all the clues hidden before the birthday party starts.
If there are more two or more teams give each team a color, give each memeber of the team a band with that color, and tell them to only take the envelopes marked clearly with that color.
This is also where an adult is very important, because in the heat of the game little kids tend to forget absolutely everything they have been told. I made this treasure hunt once, where, after several times having emphazised that they should only take the envelopes with their team color, one team rushed away and proud came back with ALL the envelopes, red, green, blue, which left me to reorganize the whole treasure hunt.
3. The last clue/drawing shows where the treasure i hidden, one treasure for each team.
4. The treasure should be a box or a bag ( it can easily be a simple plastic or paper bag) filled with candy, nuts, chips, pop corn or cookies – one bag for each child.
Important: Have always one or two bags with candy in reserve. Their might come an additional guest, a child might spill all the candy on the floor.
Kids Treasure Hunt with a Story:
When the children grow older, or when they are used to treasure hunts, you can tell different stories about the theme for the treasure hunt.
Here a some ideas:
1 – A thief has stolen the treasure that should have been for the kids at the birthday. When running away the thief had to hide the treasure not to get caught, but has left a lot of clues where he has hidden it.
Very fortunately you have found some of the first clues, which the thief had lost in the bathroom. (I guess he had to pee or something like that before he ran away).
Now the children will have to find and follow the next clues to find the hidden treasure.
The treasure hunt itself can be exactly like the picture scavenger hunt described above, or you can add that on each drawing there will also be a drawing of something the thief is wearing – like a red scarf, weird glasses, a big hood.
Then in the end, the last drawing will give the teams a secret password to say to the thief to get the treasure.
Now in the meantime one of the adults or bigger brothers or sisters have dressed up like described on the drawings, and the children will have to find the thief and say the password to get the treasure.
You can also make it into a mixture of a scavenger hunt and a treasure hunt:
2 – The thief has in his escape had to run so fast that he lost a lot of his things like clees, a hat, gloves etc., and he really wants to have these things back.
If the kids find all these things, the thief will exchange them for the candy and go abroad forever.
You make this scavenger hunt like the picture scavenger hunt above, with the addition that in every post there is, in addition to the drawing of the next post, one of the missing items. It would be a good idea to give each team a bag for collecting these items.
Then in the end the teams/team shall come back to you to see if they have found all the things the thief wants for changing back the treasure.
This also makes it a great game for not using competition: It is not about being fastest, the teams will have to work together to get to the treasure.
When you see they have collected all the items (don’t be too strict if something is missing) you can either have one of the adults hidden behind a curtain, and changing the items for the treasure, or have one of the adults dressed up as a thief, and finally, and maybe the easiest way, you can have a video telephone conversation with the thief where agreements on how and where the exchange can be done are agreed upon.
This scavenger hunt for kids can with great success be made as an outdoor scavenger hunt, or the thief can be switched with a pirate or even a bunny.
You can make it more “colorful” by at the start showing a picture of the thief, with his name on it (something like Robber-Bob or Burglar-Bunny), a poster with drawings of all the missing items. This you can use again in the end, making the kids help you check they have found it all.