Sunday, November 15, 2015

Treasure Hunting (on a budget)

Megows love treasure hunting. We do it quite often (especially when it's cool outside). There are many different kinds we have done: Following a big treasure map (see video below), scavenger hunts, hidden clues, puzzle types, etc. They just love figuring things out that lead to a big surprise.

Actually, this hunt was one of the firsts, and 
the one that really got the kids interested in Treasure Hunts.

We've also done a variety of different treasures, sometimes the treasure is just some pictures I have printed out of their favorite characters or people. It's a great way to get the kids running around outside, excited, and entertained for very little money. Normally, they are pretty random and silly, so it's right up our alley.

We hadn't done one in awhile, so I figured this weekend would be a great time to do one. When I was trying to plan it out, I was brainstorming on a way to make it new and different from things we have done before. Suddenly, I got a fun idea so I explained it to the kids and they absolutely loved it. So I wanted to share it with everyone.


The first thing we did was instead of dad planning out the map and the clues, I let the kids each draw their own "map". I told them this was going to be an imagination hunt, so just draw or write anything they like, but to not explain their map to anyone. When we get to the park, each person will explain their own map and everyone would figure out how to solve it together. Typically, we do our hunts on a separate day than the day we make the map. It draws out the fun and really gets them excited for the next day. Plus, it's a super easy way to get them to bed that night... "Ok guys, let's go to sleep because tomorrow is our TREASURE HUNT!!" Works like a charm every time ;) 

My little group of cartographers

Stevie helping Olive

We were supposed to do it yesterday, but Titus wasn't feeling well, so we had to postpone until today. So after church, we dropped off a birthday present (Happy Birthday Bowen George Southerland!) and headed off to our 'secret park' for the hunt. Now since it's normally just me, once we get the park, I make the kids turn around and close their eyes while I go and find a place to hide the treasure box. After the box was hidden, We figured out the order of who would present and explain their map. 

Showing off their maps and ready to start!!
(The sun was bright so they didn't want to look at the camera)

We decided Titus would do first. We all gathered around and listen to Titus explain his map to evereyone. Of course, it was power ranger themed. The first thing Titus said is we needed to find things to make his Power Rangers "the real Red Rangers". So we thought for a bit and Stevie shouted "Let's find Red Leaves!" and off they went.

Explaining his map

Hunting for red leaves

Stevie found most of the red leaves. She is a pro finder.

After we found red leaves to complete the rangers, Titus said we needed to find a sword. I said before we could find the "real" sword, we had to find the Power Rangers's Morpher or he wouldn't be able to use his sword. He agreed. After hunting for a few minutes for Power Ranger Morpher, Neela found one of our family favorites "Bomb Seeds". These little berries will shoot slime and seeds if you squeeze them. So we all shot of a Bomb Seed together and it landed next to an acorn. Titus told everyone that this acorn was the Morpher and the sword must be near a lot of acorns somewhere in the park (These little hunts are normally just a lot of imagination and making up little clues on the fly). 

A "Bomb Seed" before popping

The inside of a "Bomb Seed" and the little seed that shoots out

So ran around looking for a large group of acorns with a stick on it. We found one pretty easily. We had completed Titus's map!

Neela made two maps. (Side note, the night before everyone else finished their map in about 10 minutes. Neela sat there coloring for like 30 minutes and sneakily chuckling to herself "This map is going to be so so tricky.."

Neela explained to us that we needed to find "an animal but not a bug" in the park. So we ran around looking for an animal. No luck, we couldn't find anything. I figured she would get frustrated, but she never did. Finally, she started to laugh... "HAHAHA, Tricked you! We have to looked in the 'secret field'. So we ran over to the secret field and started to look for a few minutes. Luckily, dad figured she would want us to find something about animals, so I snuck a feather in my pocket and dropped in an area she was looking ;)  Soon, they found the feather and were ecstatic. That completed Neela's first map.

Neela explaining her "tricky" map

Neela- "Olive! An acorn is not an animal!"
Olive- "I love it. It's pretty"

Finding the strategically placed feather ;)

Adding her map and clues to the completed section.

We all gathered around Stevie for her to explain her map and what we needed to do to solve it. Stevie explained that her map was a picture of our old bearded dragon Alabama that died a few months ago (click here for the post about Alabama's passing). She explained her map said we all needed to pray for Alabama in heaven and share our favorite memory of him. 

Everyone praying

 This was just the sweetest thing and made me smile so big seeing the kids praying on the hunt. 
My favorite part was that it was all Stevie's idea :)

Once we did that, I asked Stevie what kind of clue we need to place on her map. She suggested making a cross because Alabama is in heaven with Jesus, so we did that. 

The cross we made

Sweet Stevie :)

Well, Olive's map didn't really make much sense. Just like everything else in life, she just said her map was Minnie Mouse. So Titus said me and him would find things to make a Minnie Mouse and the girls could find a flower since Minnie loves flowers. 

Everyone took a turn trying to decipher Olive's map

"Dad, this just looks like throw-up."

She found a pretty flower

Acorn Minnie Mouse and her white flower

After that, I figured it would just be easier to say Olive's was done than to stand there and try to decipher any other hidden meanings :)

Neela informed us that her last map was "extra tricky". She said we needed to find a "snake pit", followed by a "Nature Adventure", and lastly head into the "Bamboo Forrest" to find a piece of Magic Bamboo.

I explained to Neela that I doubt we could find a snake pit, but we could probably find a vine or stick that looked like a snake. That seemed to make her happy. Shortly after, Olive found the "snake stick". Neela then lead us into the woods for her "Nature Adventure". We just walked around while Neela pointed out different things she knows about nature. She showed us a spiderweb and explained what kind of spider it was "An Orb Weaver because it makes golden webs" (No clue if that was right, but we enjoyed her explaining it.) Finally, we made our way into the Bamboo Forrest and found the Magic Bamboo. 

She took off running before I could take a picture of her last map

Finding the Snake Stick

"Nature Adventure" 

The magic bamboo stick - on the right

The completed map with all of the "clues"

This means we were done with all the maps! So we put them all together with all of the clues we had found. (In my head, I was trying to figure out how to piece together these random things and try to give some clues about the Treasure Box's location). 

Stevie and Neela took a stab at figuring out the clues first. My favorite thing about kids is their imagination and just general faith that things work out for good. So after examining the clues, they concluded that the treasure box was hidden in a dove's nest. So I let them run around looking up in trees for a little while. Eventually, they came back and concluded we needed to re-evaluate the clues. Well, since I knew they were familiar with all of the hiding spots of this park and that the clues would just be random things we found on the hunt, I planned ahead and hid the box somewhere that could be related to pretty much anything on the planet but they wouldn't find easily. So I needed to figure out a way to explain all of this stuff. We started with the cross. "Where did you guys learn about the cross?"... "Church!".... "Ok, now let's look at everything else. How do all of these clues and church fit together?" 

It didn't take them long before they took off sprinting for the van. (I never actually hid it. I just left it under the driver's side seat). I knew this would work because we have a million "pieces of nature" stored in various compartments, under seats, and in cup holders of the van. We currently have a cup holder in the back dedicated to acorns. It's just how the Megows roll (If you are curious about the famous Megow van, click here for the post dedicated completely to our family member with four wheels).

They figured it out

It's always a big source of pride "finding the box". 
Titus found it this time.

There was another family at the park. So we made some new friends,
and they joined us part of the hunt

Opening the box

The treasures. I already had some of this stuff, so I just bought a few treats to go along with it.
We also got to split the candy into a bag to send home with our new friends
(Don't worry my kids didn't eat all of their candy in one sitting)


Stretchy, rubber bugs are always a hit with my kids.

It was a good day and a whole lot of fun. Another reason I like to do things like this is because it gives me a chance to get on the kid's level. Just acting silly and doing random things that don't really make any sense besides the fact that they are just fun.

Be blessed and hope you can enjoy your own treasure hunt soon :)

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