Backyard Treasure Hunt

Backyard Treasure Hunt. Rain or Shine Mamma

Published on December 19th, 2014 Updated on January 10th, 2023 By Linda McGurk

The past month has been dark, dreary and wet. That means it has taken a little more effort than usual to motivate the girls to play outside, which made me think of “Bird, Fish or In-between,” an outdoor treasure hunt that I sometimes played growing up in Sweden. It’s a super easy outdoor activity that requires next to no supplies and is a great way for children to grow their vocabulary. Try it the next time your kids don’t feel like playing outside – it worked like magic for us!

Backyard Treasure Hunt. Rain or Shine Mamma

“Bird, Fish or In-between”

What you need:

  • A treasure. We happened to have a small treasure chest on hand but you can use any small item that’s suitable for hiding.

Where to do it:

  • Your backyard, a park or other outdoor area where there are plenty of nooks and crannies to hide the treasure.

How to do it:

This treasure hunt is ideal for two kids to do together, but it can be modified for more children to participate. Alternatively, an only child can play with a parent.

One child starts out hiding the treasure while the other child waits, eyes clothes. The child that hid the treasure (the “hider”) then tells the other child whether the location where the treasure is hidden is “Bird, Fish or In-between.” Bird means that the treasure is hidden up high, Fish means that it’s close to or on the ground and In-between that it’s, well, somewhere in-between. Using that cue as a starting point, the person that is supposed to search (the “searcher”) starts looking around.

If the searcher is moving in the wrong direction, the hider can help steer him or her around by saying “Cold,” “Colder,” “Freezing,” etc to indicate that they’re getting farther away from the treasure. As the searcher gets closer, the hider offers clues like “Luke-warm,” “Warmer,” “Hot,” and so forth, depending on the distance to the treasure. When the treasure is within arm’s reach, the hider says “Burning hot” or something to that effect. When the treasure is found, switch roles and start over.

TIP: Keep an eye on where your child hides the treasure – if it’s a good hiding spot you may lose the treasure if you’re not careful. We had a close call a few times. For that reason it’s best not to bury the treasure, but leave at least part of it visible.

Not only do kids LOVE treasure hunts – the neat thing about this game is that it practices observational and collaborative skills. It’s also a great vocabulary builder, as it encourages the child explore many different ways of describing hot and cold.

Outdoor Play Party

At the last Outdoor Play Party I really enjoyed Outdoor Snacks and Drinks from Juliet of Creative STAR Learning Company, who shared a lot of fun food ideas, including bread dampers, or “bread on a stick” as we call it in Sweden. I find that my girls enjoy themselves much more outdoors in the winter if we bring some food or hot drinks, especially hot chocolate.

Outdoor Snack

Now it’s time for a new party. If you’re a blogger, please link up with your ideas for outdoor play activities every other week! We would appreciate it if you included a link back to this post (either in your post or sidebar) to help us spread the word about the importance (and fun!) of outdoor play! In return, we’ll gladly further share your post on Pinterest/Facebook/Twitter.

Please feel free to grab the Outdoor Play Party button from the sidebar and/or include a text link back.  Please note that by contributing you are giving permission for an image and link to your post to be republished if featured. (If you have been featured, please feel free to grab the ‘featured at’ button from the sidebar.)


10 thoughts on “Backyard Treasure Hunt

    • Linda McGurk says:

      Yes, you’re right it would be a great game for a birthday party. I like it because it gives the girls something to do on those days when there’s no snow and not much else going on.

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