When working one of my first governor jobs I was tasked with entertaining my student on his birthday! This harry potter themed scavenger hunt was for my charge Max to celebrate his 6th birthday - and needless to say he loved it! Max and his brother spent ages running round the house finding clues and working them out! At the end of the treasure hunt, his prize was his birthday presents; giving the boys some lovely new toys to play with.
We even managed to make a display out of the materials used. I really recommend a treasure hunt as an exciting adventure for your kids or charges! A hunt like this can be prepared in just a few hours.
I would love for as many of you as possible to give this a try, so please do share it with people you think would enjoy it and let me know if you are successful in making your own scavenger hunt!
The theme for our treasure hunt was Harry Potter, Max’s favourite (it was his birthday after all!) I think the concept below would equally suit well for Ancient Egyptians or even for pirates, it’s just a matter of finding the right props.
For a scavenger hunt like this you will need:
Some paper and a printer (black and white will do)
2 or 3 teabags
Some ribbon (mixed colour or same colour, up to you)
Some props suitable to your theme
Costumes to wear whilst doing the scavenger hunt (if possible!)
Treasure hunt prizes
Step one: Write your clues (and print them out)
This part takes a little creativity. I tried to make my clues rhyme, but that’s not totally necessary. I think it’s important to keep them a little bit cryptic but not too complicated - bear in mind that if your child doesn’t understand the clue it will take some of the excitement out of the scavenger hunt! I wrote a total of ten clues, which kept the boys busy for a good half hour. I typed out my clues using the Harry Potter type font here: flamingtext.com/logo/Design-Harry-Potter
Remember that the clues need to link together! I found that the easiest way was for each clue to direct the boys to a different part of the house. Where needed I also attached props to the clues (again, this isn’t totally necessary). The first clue should probably introduce your charge(s) to the treasure hunt, and the last one should be a congratulatory note to go with the prize.
The key is the shoes (a winged key in the shoe closet)
For the rest, each clue directed the boys to look for something specific in a room or place in order to find the next one. Where you hide the clues is totally up to your imagination - just make sure they’re in safe, reachable locations. I hid a clue next to a broom in a cleaning room and another close to ‘Moaning Myrtle’s toilet’ (make sure it’s clean!) It’s probably a good idea to write down the number of each clue and where you want to put it on a separate sheet of paper to keep track yourself and make sure all the clues fit together properly, as it can get a little confusing.
When you’ve prepared your clues, print them out on separate sheets of paper - I used an A4 sheet for each piece and then ripped them down to size.
Step two: Tea stain and dry your clues
When all of your clues are written, printed and sized, you can tea stain them. I put two tea bags in a mug, added a little warm water and then poured the tea concentrate onto the clues (both sides) before drying them with a hairdryer. You could also leave them to dry overnight.
Step three: Wrap your clues with ribbon
I found a bunch of old ribbons from various past birthday gifts, Christmas wrapping and boxes of chocolate. If you haven’t got a variety of ribbons lying around you could just buy a single spool from a craft store and wrap them up in a colour of your choice. I numbered them too to ensure I had them corresponding to the right clue and knew where to put them.
Step four: Prepare your props
Of course, props that you can find around your house are preferable. However, if your scavenger hunt has a particular theme it may be worth nipping to the toy store to ensure you have a few options. Remember, props are not totally essential - if your clues simply direct your kids to a different room or area to look around then you don’t necessarily need them, but I found they made the whole experience more fun!
One of my favourites was the picture frame - try printing a picture from the internet and hide it in a frame instead of the usual photo to make a cunning hiding place (I used ‘The Fat Lady’ from Harry Potter)!
Step five: Hide your props and your clues…
… And tell any other people in the house not to touch them or tidy them away! Remember the first clue is typically an introductory clue, so leave this somewhere easy to find. For example, I stuck Max’s first clue on the front door so he saw it as soon as he came home from school!
Step six: Hide your reward
Be sure so hide your reward in a special hiding place if possible; just make sure it’s not too difficult to find! Equally, you may wish to do as I did and put the last ‘clue’ as a congratulatory note with your prize (if you have one). Max’s was easy - it basically said ‘Well done, Happy Birthday, enjoy your gifts’. We attached a load of balloons to it and hid it right back next to the front door to give the scavenger hunt a cyclical structure.
Step seven: Ready for action! Have your camera ready to capture some of the magic as it unfolds
If it’s appropriate, you may also want to have some costumes hidden together with your first clue. Encourage the kids to dress up and they will really be in the zone. We prepared Harry Potter style glasses, wands and ‘capes’ for the boys which just made the whole experience seem a little more ‘real’.
Bonus step: Make a display
When we finished our treasure hunt it seemed a shame to throw our clues away so Max and I glued it into a mini display to put up on his playroom door. Do with yours as you wish!
You can do your treasure hunt inside or outside - I chose inside as it was cold, but outside would be fun too! Just bear in mind that if your kids have to go and search somewhere muddy you might not want them back inside again until they’ve washed up a bit!
So go and give this a try, put some heart into it and your kids will love it. If you enjoyed this idea please share it using the buttons below!
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