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  • Writer's pictureKate

Activity of the Day: Treasure hunting 7 - Training and Troubleshooting

We've been making our treasure hunts for everyone from toddlers to grandparents and for people of all abilities and interests (except, obviously, for people who just don't like treasure hunts- but we're not really convinced there are any of those).

We'll be moving on to look at treasure hunt styles including map reading techniques next week- but thought it would be a good idea now to get some troubleshooting and training ideas in, just in case anyone has been having problems.

In a number of the previous posts we've mentioned that making treasure hunts involves a lot of theory of mind- that is, being able to work out what someone will think in different situations. People who find theory of mind difficult are likely to find creating treasure hunts difficult unless they are given very clear instructions. If given clear instructions and support, treasure hunt writing can be a really lovely fun and structured way to help with developing theory of mind.

Teaching treasure hunt making

Working through the types of treasure hunts in the post from 1-6 is my main suggested way to help support people in learning how to make their own treasure hunts. Most people will be able to learn how to write treasure hunts from working through these steps and many will be able to skip stages, even going straight onto multiple clue-to-clue written treasure hunts.

Younger people or those who are finding things more difficult may need some extra steps.

As a general rule, with each hunt type, first set out a hunt (or more than one) for the person you are teaching, and help them to complete the treasure hunt correctly until they are able to complete a hunt with little or no help. Then they can try to design and set out a hunt for you to do.

If setting up a whole hunt is too difficult at first, we've found it helpful to go down to a single clue-item pair.

For example, the person learning can hide one teddy in a familiar place then give you one photo clue or written clue to lead to the teddy. One of our hunt makers has found it very difficult to learn that the clue has to match where the teddy goes. It took a large number of goes and having a more advanced hunt makers providing support for our struggling hunt maker to learn that the teddy has to go where the clue leads. Interestingly, this hunt maker has no difficulty at all in correctly following clues!

In this case, for teaching the principle of "clue leads to item" we used spoken clues instead of photos or written clues once we'd found the difficulty. Initially, our struggling hunt maker simply had to tell the hunter where the teddy was hidden.

Once this hurdle had been managed, we could move on to taking a photo of the teddy hidden in correct place, then hiding the teddy in a location shown in a photo- which was a tricky step- then on to writing a clue to the correct place.

Breaking it down into these small stages, our hunt maker was able to get the hang of doing a single clue-item pair reliably- and then managed to create a hunt with 5 single-sentence written clues leading to 5 items- after which we had a very, very proud hunt maker in need of an ice lolly!

Practical issues:

Soggy clues:

  • Put the clues in waterproof food tubs such as margarine or takeaway tubs or laminate them. Laminating is really unenvironmentally friendly as you're creating a non-recyclable plastic composite material, so even if you own a laminator we only recommend this if no other option will work.

Lost clues:

  • Make sure you take photos on your phone to show where each clue is.

  • If you're doing a hunt over a large area, you can tag each location using Google Maps and write yourself notes plus include the photo so that losing a single clue can't ruin a whole hunt.

Vanished clues or treasure:

  • If you're doing a treasure hunt on public land, make sure that you put clues out only a small time before the hunt, so that people don't tidy them away.

  • Do not put treasures out ahead of time on public land- dogs love to pick up toys, and people may take away treasures too, if they can't see who they belong to.

  • Tie or weigh clues down so they can't blow away.

  • Ensure that treasure (if edible in particular) is animal-proof.

  • If it's wet weather, be aware that paper can fall apart amazingly fast. See the "soggy clues" hints above if your clues seem to be vanishing in rain!

  • Consider using fixed item clues that are part of the landscape anyway - we'll be looking at using fixed item clues for larger public space treasure hunting at the end of next week. These hunts are my favourite type!!

Next treasure hunting activity post will be on Monday- have a good weekend of clue hunting and enjoy our nature posts over the weekend too!

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