I have been planning to do this for a while but haven't had a free weekend or the props so the weekend just gone I made a point of planning a real-life treasure Hunt for Smiley.
I pre-made & painted some "coins" made from cut cardboard that had written & pictorial clues on the back of them, a treasure map and a box of treasure, oh and of course I needed a pirates flag to mark the buried treasure. When Smiley was occupied with Daddy helping him feed the farm animals I snuck off and left a trail of semi-hidden clues around at significant land markings & large visual hiding spots (the large gum tree, the camp fire, the veggie garden, the river bank, the Caravans etc.)
Once the clues were out I drew up a treasure map. Smiley is only 2 and obviously cant read yet so I did the treasure map with visual cues and drawings, I drew on a circle with a $ symbol that represented where the coin clues were hidden. At the end of the trail was a large X mark, where the treasure was buried.
The treasure consisted of some real .20 cent coins, some foam coins and of course some chocolate coins. Not too many though... I buried the treasure in the soft dirt down by the river bank. This seemed the most logical spot because the dirt is soft and the pirates must have came by boat to bury it there! (Smiley is never unattended at anytime while he is on the farm so of course safety near the waters edge had to be considered).
Here is one hidden next to a canoe.
The clues read things like; 'Follow the fence to you find a Red canoe under a tree, look close & you will see a purple coin with your next clue'
"Where the cows play you might see a very large tree"
"Oink oink, what has a curly tail and rolls in the mud?"
"Pirates come by boat, can you hear the water splashing & the sound of birds tweeting. Look close & you might find the Pirates have left something behind!"
Once the treasure was buried I put up a Pirate flag and marked the treasure with a big X made out of river stones then went back to start the hunt with him.
The first clue was accompanied by a shovel. I told smiley that a little bird had told me there is treasure buried on the land near by and that it left me with a treasure Map. I showed him the map and explained that the coins are clues that will help us find the treasure and that we need to follow this trail.
He was a little hesitant at the beginning but once he had found the second clue he caught on to the game and was jumping with excitement (literally!) .
This clue below got the best reaction because he could see it across the Field and ran flat out yelling "found it. there it is! " until he got there with the hugest grin on his face :-D
There were also pictures on the back of the coin clues and of course i read it to him but let him take the initiative to follow the clue and tell me what he thought it meant and where that next clue was. It worked a treat and he caught on really quick! If he got stuck we kneeled down and compared the place/picture on the map as I re-read the clue...
The next best thing was spotting the Pirates flag, and his face lite up. There really is treasure here. The he had to look around to find the X of rocks and start digging. The treasure was only loosely buried so it was easy enough for him to do it himself.
TREASURE. He was shaking with excitement and so happy he had found it, it was one of the best activities we have done together. He ran up the hill and found Daddy & his Uncle to show them what he had found and he held on to his treasure map for a couple of hours. It was a good outdoor activity to get us moving, and explore the outdoors, it challenged his cognitive processes and encouraged his imagination. It really was an awesome Adventure!