Have a nature-themed treasure hunt at his favorite play place -- the park!

How to Make a Treasure Map for Kids Who Don't Read Yet

by Rosenya Faith

A treasure hunt is perfect for young pirates and adventurers alike, and it's also an effective way to occupy any child on an otherwise uneventful afternoon. Even though your child might not notice, the hunt will teach him how to follow directions, too. If your youngster hasn't mastered his reading skills just yet, no problem -- a photo treasure map will help to make this fun and engaging activity a success.

Write out the plan for your treasure map. While you won't be giving your child written instructions, it helps to organize the activity when you have each point clearly defined for your own reference.

Take a picture of each location you will need for the map with a digital camera. Visual cues will help make the treasure hunt a success for young children. If you'll be placing clues at each stop along the treasure map, use pictorial cues for these as well.

Upload the photos onto your computer and print out each picture. If you're making multiple maps for a group of kids, print out a copy for each child or team.

Draw the basic treasure map on a large sheet of paper. You can use any type of paper, but a half sheet of poster board is ideal if you'd like the map to remain in good condition for a while. Don't worry about detail right now -- your pictures will add plenty of detail later. Focus on drawing the path to the treasure and make small marks as placeholders for the photo.

Look at the photos with your child to make sure he recognizes each one and then glue the photos over the top of the placeholders on the treasure map.

Glue each of the pictorial clues onto a card stock backing -- if you have extra poster board left over, that will work, too. The card stock just makes the clues a little stronger and more durable. You can also add drawings or other prompts to the back of the cue cards.

Send your youngster on his treasure hunt. Stay close by in case he needs help with the map or the clues. If your child has questions, provide partial answers to encourage him to flex his problem-solving skills.

Items you will need

  • Digital camera
  • Photo paper
  • Poster board
  • Craft glue
  • Card stock (optional)


  • You can write the clues for your hunt next to the pictures to help your child learn to associate pictures with words.


  • Gymboree Play and Learn: 1001 Fun Activities for Your Baby and Child; Dr. Roni Cohen Leiderman, et al.

About the Author

Rosenya Faith has been working with children since the age of 16 as a swimming instructor and dance instructor. For more than 14 years she has worked as a recreation and skill development leader, an early childhood educator and a teaching assistant, working in elementary schools and with special needs children between 4 and 11 years of age.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images