Treasure Hunt: How to Become a Detective!

detective badgeThe theme for this treasure hunt game is how to become a detective, and the treasure in the end of the game will be a detective license, maybe a hat, and some edible treasure like candy, popcorn and cookies.

You can arrange a detective treasure hunt for the little ones, but then you will have to make it more like the picture scavenger hunt, and just add a detective story and some easy tasks.

This treasure hunt game will be more fun for kids aged 7-8 and more. When the kids have learned to read, you can use all the secret codes you find on another page here, which adds to the kids’ feeling of being real detectives.

The Story for this “Treasure Hunt” Game:

“The participants in this birthday game are all applicants to enter the detective school here, so now they have to solve various tasks to become real detectives.

If they handle the different tasks here in this detective treasure hunt well, they will graduate as detectives, get a diploma and a reward. But they will have to be very attentive and clever to pass the detective exam.”

You can make the treasure hunt indoors or outdoors, but as this game is best for children aged 7 and more, I will advice this made as an outdoor treasure hunt if possible.

1. You can equip the children with badges, with a drawing of a magnifying glass, and maybe a pair of funny eyeglasses. You can use the badge I have made here above. Glue them to cardboard and glue a safety pin to it.
You should also give the team some paper and a pencil.

You have dressed up yourself with glasses, a hat, and if possible a trenchcoat, to make you look like a super-detective yourself. Your name is Super-detective Hansson (or something else detective-like)

You hand over the first message, written in code. You can make the message more difficult the older the kids are, but here is an example of what you could use:


(which is actually “Go very quietly down to the big oak tree and find the next clue – Detectives notice everything so look for anything unusual and write it down” written backwards). If you think this is a bit too easy, you can make it more difficult by writing it as one long word, or split the sentence in strange ways. If it is too difficult you can help them break the code, or just give them the message not coded.

2. This post is a “dead” post, meaning there are no people waiting here. On the way to this post you have planted things that are strange – a red high healed shoe, a doll in a tree, apples hanging from a cherry tree, a bucket upside down, a bow on a flower – what you can think of. The number of strange things will of course depend on the route they have to go, but there should be 5-10 things that don’t belong.

When the kids reach the post, it is a bag hanging from a tree or at the bottom of a bush. The message here is not coded, but tells the kids they shall bring the list of strange things they have seen to the next post at the (gate or where the next post is), together with the result of the task they get here.

This task is to see if they are good enough at recognizing the shadows of thieves, because that might be the only thing they will see in the night:

Here is a picture with thieves and shadows, click it to come to the picture you print.


task for detective treasure hunt

3.  The team already has the direction to this post, and it is a “live” post. An adult or a bigger brother or sister is dressed up as another detective or a police officer.

Here the team shall deliver the papers with thief/shadows and their record of the “strange” things, and they get a point for each task, a piece of cardboard with written numbers, to bring to the end of the treasure hunt, the exam. (It doesn’t really matter how many points they get, this is just for the reality of the game).

The detective here tells them they have done well, and that they can go on with the detective education if they can solve this task. He or she gives them a bun, and then just sits and wait.

You shall have baked a bun or a croissant with a coded message inside, wrapped in tin foil or a piece of cookie sheet. It shall be so big that they can’t swallow it if they start eating the bun.

When they have found the message, it is a coded password. Now the detective hands them the code reader, and when they have solved the task reading the password, he tells them where to go next, and to remember the password.

4. This  post is a “dead” post.

There is a bag with the task and a direction to the next post.

The task is a test to see how attentive the detective aspirants are.
Click the picture below and print the big one.
On the drawing below there are 10 things that are different from the upper drawing. The team shall find them, draw a circle around them, and then bring the paper with them, when they are going to the next post.

detective exam task


5. This is again a “dead” post (but of course you can make it a “live” one if there are enough helpers. “Live” posts are always more fun.) The post has a task and a direction to the last post.

Can the team follow the thief’s escape route?
Click the maze here and print the big one.
The team shall find a way to lead the detective to the thief.

When they have done that, they take the paper with them to the last post.Maze for detective treasure hunt


6. This is a “live” post and the last one. Of course you can add more posts, but as solving the tasks mentioned here will take quite some time, I think this will be enough for a birthday party.

This post can be you again, the teams coming back, or another super-detective out in the field.
The detective receive the different papers and gives the team the final score (this will of course be excellent!) and now the kids in the team all receive a diploma with their name on it, and a reward consisting of a candy bag, popcorn or what you decide is best.

detective diploma

Go to the top of this page about a Detective Treasure Hunt.

Go to Homepage or the main page for Scavenger Hunt for Kids.