Summer Learning: How to Make an Educational Treasure Map
It can be hard this time of year, particularly during the summer, to keep up your kids' enthusiasm for learning. For that matter, it can be hard for you to keep up your enthusiasm to help your kids to learn. If you're like me, you've been working hard all year, braving all manner of protests, delay tactics, and problems, and you're ready to be done. Recently, during our Spring Break, I determined to overcome that wall of fatigue, both for my 8-year-old son and myself, with a little activity that incorporated both the things he'd been learning in third grade and the fun of a treasure hunt. It was as much fun for me to put together as it was for my son to do! You may want to try it.
How to Make an Educational Treasure Map
- 8 1/2 x 11 Tan Cardstock
- Ink Pad
First, we went to the store and had him pick out the prize, or "treasure," which was a couple of Dagedar balls. I set a price limit of $10.
Then, I prepared a treasure map.
On a piece of 8 1/2 x 11 tan cardstock, I made a crude version of a stereotypical pirate treasure map, with "X" marking the spot of the treasure and simple pictures and the names of three stops along the way: the "Waters of Aluban" (the bathtub), the "Fires of Dometris" (the oven), and the "Forest of Springlis" (the bushes out front). Notice my amazing illustrations. I crumpled the cardstock several times, then distressed the wrinkles and the outer edges with a chestnut-colored, cats'-eye-sized chalk ink pad. Then I cut it into four curvy-edged puzzle-like pieces.
Then, I prepared the clues. Each clue led to a place in our house or yard where he would find a task to do that involved either solving multiplication problems, answering a science question, or selecting the proper spellings of particular words on a spelling sheet. Upon completion of the task, he'd receive a piece of the treasure map. This was my list of clues:
- Solve a page of 3x multiplication problems to get the first piece of the treasure map. This piece showed that, from the beginning point, he would need to seek the "Waters of Aluban," (i.e., the downstairs bathtub), which he found with a few subtle hints from me.
- To the shower curtain of the bathtub was clipped the first clue, which was: "Seek ye now the portal which/Helps you to the backyard switch" (meaning, the gate to our backyard).
- When he reached the backyard gate, he found the spelling list taped to it. When he finished that, he got the second piece of the treasure map.
- That piece pointed to the "Fires of Dometris" as the next destination, which he again found with a few hints from me. On the top rack inside the oven lay the next clue.
5. That clue read: "This next clue lies deep within/The fiery furnace of the Dragon Zin/A cave downstairs and dimly lit/Holds what you need to find IT." He headed straight for the furnace room.
6. On the floor in front of the furnace, he found a picture of a dragon, one I'd just found by googling and printing. On the back of the picture, was the question: "How many planets are there in our solar system?" When he answered that correctly, he got the next piece of the treasure map.
7. This third piece indicated that the "Forest of Springlis" was his next destination, and since there isn't much vegetation in our yard except for the bushes out front, which grow as wild as if they truly were in a forest, it wasn't hard to find them. The final piece of treasure map was tucked in amongst their branches.
8. The final piece said that "X" marked the spot of the final treasure, which was at the "Pillow Clouds of Moeserus." He was able to find the large beanbags in our family room relatively easily, under which the treasure he'd chosen was found.
It really didn't take that long to put this together, maybe an hour or two. It was worth it when my son exclaimed as he ran from bathtub to bush, "This is so fun!" not grumbling at all about spelling but excitedly and accurately doing it so that he could get to the next thing. Try an experiment like this to help your family's enthusiasm for learning, and let us know how it goes!