Teach Your Child How to Read a Map: The Treasure Hunt Game

Aristotle and I have been playing a new game recently. Aristotle calls it “treasure hunt”. It was inspired by a treasure hunt game he played at school although the details he shared with me were kinda vague. He was so excited about it that he came home and drew his own map complete with kelp forest, underwater cave and a foot path.

After that, he asked me to draw him a map so I drew a basic floor plan of our house and marked a spot with an “X”. I hid a box of Smarties at the location of the “X” and asked Aristotle to find it. It was supposed to be a one-off activity where Aristotle would find the treasure and the game would be over but he enjoyed it so much that we took turns hiding the treasure and marking the map with a new “X” for the other person to find. Each time the treasure hunter successfullly locates the treasure, they are rewarded with a Smartie. If they fail, the person who hid the treasure gets the Smartie.

It was supposed to be a variation to the game of “hide and seek” but I’ve discovered an additional value of this game – it teaches Aristotle map orientation and map reading. My map had no labels on it but I drew just enough landmarks for Aristotle to be able to identify what he’s looking at.

Variations:

  • If you want to teach your child about map legends, you can add one in and use the symbols to represent key landmarks around the house.
  • You can add compass directions and teach your child to use a compass.
  • You can make it an orienteering exercise and mark out directions and number of steps to take to get to the treasure. E.g. Starting from the kitchen doorway, walk 15 steps in a northeasterly direction. Then 5 steps towards north… etc.
  • Extend the game by hiding various notes with instructions to follow at different locations around the house.
  • Add puzzles to be worked out before the next clue is released.

These are just some ideas I came up with but I’m sure you can come up with more. Happy treasure hunting!

About the author

Shen-Li Shen-Li is a stay-home mum to two boys who have been the inspiration for her interest in early childhood development and early child education. She searches for the balance in child development methods and the educational philosophies that will enable the nurture of happy, confident and successful children. She shares her views and findings at Figur8.


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