Have your munchkins search for decorated eggs around Easter time.

How to Plan a Treasure Hunt With Preschoolers

by Rosenya Faith

If you're searching for a fun activity for you and a group of little munchkins, plan a treasure hunt. It doesn't matter if your group is large or small -- it might even be an afternoon adventure for you and your own preschooler, though it's more fun to hunt for "treasure" with a team of curious kids. Get them to put on their thinking caps and think outside the box. It won't be long before these squirmy youngsters stop bouncing off the walls and become thoroughly engrossed in the search for a leaf.

Agree on a theme for your treasure hunt. You can have a nature hunt where your team of budding botanists searches for trees, leaves, flowers and shrubs, or have an indoor treasure hunt for common household items. These are simple options that require very little planning ahead of time. Alternatively, you can hide various objects that coordinate with your theme, such as stuffed animals or superhero action figures.

Make a list of clues for each youngster in your treasure hunt. You can leave the next clue at the answer to the previous one, but one of your preschoolers may run off with the sheet. Let them follow along their list of clues instead.

Keep the clues simple. You want to encourage each child to use his noggin to figure out the clues but it's definitely not the time to send him on a quest for Blackbeard's treasure or the lost city of the Incas. For example, if your next treasure can be found by the freezer, include ice, frozen veggies and ice pops in the clue. If you're working with very young preschoolers, you may even want to include a picture of the freezer.

Draw or cut out pictures to use as clues. If your child is already reading, then bravo! However, most preschoolers are just beginning to read and those who can are at a rudimentary stage. You're working with a group of your little tyke's friends here and the hunt will likely progress much more smoothly when the clues are clearly depicted with images. In the freezer example, draw or cut out pictures of the ice, a bag of frozen veggies and an ice pop on a stick. To help the youngsters work on their spelling, you can also include “Starts with the letter “F” and include an underscore for each remaining letter: “Starts with the letter F_ _ _ _”.

Place a small treat or prize next to each clue's answer if you're playing with just one or two youngsters. For a larger group, lay out a different type of sticker by the answer to each clue. Have each kiddo in your little group collect a sticker and place it on his page next to the clue. When everyone has attached a sticker to each clue, you can reward everyone with a little treat.

Items you will need

  • Stuffed animals or superhero toys (optional)
  • Pictorial clues
  • Treats or prizes
  • Stickers (optional)


  • If your child has developed his reading skills early, or you have other adults available to help each child with the clues, you could try a rhyming treasure hunt with clues like: “It’s not a chore, go check by the back _ _ _ _” and “There’s no need to rush, go look by your hair _ _ _ _ _."


  • Infants, Toddlers, and Caregivers, 7th Edition.; Janet Gonzalez-Mena, et al.; 2006

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

  • Martin Poole/Digital Vision/Getty Images