Upon entering our program room, kids chose a pirate name by selecting one piratey word from each of three columns and putting on a name tag.
They picked up a treasure map and a good ol' golf pencil, and headed to the disguise table to create a pirate hat. A lucky few got eye patches I'd unearthed from years ago. It's always a risk to put out a little of something, but I wanted them gone and for the most part it wasn't an issue.
After selecting their name and disguise, the little buccaneers decorated a paper sack treasure chest for their booty.Then the hunt began. The kids were trying to guess a phrase. Can you guess what it was? Dig into reading! Some kids got the word "Dig" and guessed the rest and that was a-okay with me.
First, they hit up the "sand boxes" to dig for a set of letters. The boxes were filled with shredded paper and the letters were die cut from matboard. The word was "Dig."
They then had to face the plank - a board propped up on 3 bricks. They were asked a riddle or joke and when they couldn't answer, they jumped off and were told the first letter of the last word, "R."
Finally, they left the room with maps in hand, trying to find the source of each image on the map. All the images were taken on the children's level. At the site of each photo was a sparkly letter and in some cases a seashell to make REALLY sure they understood the letter was what they were after. Staff working the desks had been filled in and there was an answer key in case the forgot where something was.
Treasure included chocolate coins, plastic gold coins, ring pops, plastic gold necklaces, some paper posters and pirate flags, and fancy paper pirate hats. Barring the candy, it was all stuff we had. The ring pops went first, then the hats and posters, then the chocolate coins.
We knew we'd have all ages rather than the school age crowd we typically plan for, so making the hunt photo-based was a good move. This program slot is self-guided and drop in, so preschoolers still needed an adult to guide them but it worked well. We were lucky enough to borrow a couple district staff members to man the sand box and plank, which helped a lot.It would've been a fun opportunity for enthusiastic volunteers, too.
This is a format I will use again. It's relatively simple, the kids enjoy it and you get to highlight areas of your space or collection while getting kids moving around. Perfecto!