My three-year-old wanted to have a pirate-themed birthday party this year. Of course, a pirate party needs a treasure hunt! But it had to be indoors due to the weather. So, I drew a treasure map of the house (my parents’ house, excluding bedrooms).
I had to figure out how to make the treasure hunt interesting, so the kids would be occupied for more than a few minutes. If the party was bigger, I could have set up games to play at various points on the map. If the kids were older, I could have made riddles for them to solve. If the treasure hunt was outdoors, the map could have been bigger. But none of those ideas seemed to work for this party.
So, I decided to just make more maps. I made three maps per kid, so that each of the first two maps led to a new map, and the final map led to the stash of pirate treasure chest goody bags. It seems elaborate, but it just required some extra logic and planning. There were only six locations in the house where I put the maps, and each kid was assigned a color. The maps were rolled up in color-coordinated “scrolls” (made of construction paper), so the kids knew to only take scrolls that were their color. Plus, all the kids were preschoolers, so they were fine with getting some help from adults.
I based the maps on landmarks instead of making a blueprint of the house because it seemed more piratey. I drew the master map in Photoshop, with each landmark on a different layer. I also drew several paths between the landmarks on different layers, so there would be multiple maps. Since the house has several levels, I needed to make sure that the paths didn’t go on overlapping levels. That was easy in Photoshop since I could just hide the layers that had landmarks from floors that weren’t in the path for that map. There were a few details that were agonizing, but I tried to just not think too hard about them. Overall, planning and executing the treasure hunt was really fun!
And yeah, I know this seems like a lot of work for a 3-year-old’s birthday party, but my son really loved it. The only downside is that now my 5-year-old expects me to do this for his birthday party next month!
Now people are telling me I should be a professional treasure hunt maker. I’m in! Just make me an offer.