by Stefanie (in collaboration with Team AYEINA)
The thrill of a treasure hunt is something that brings joy to children and adults alike. For me, it recalls childhood parties spent following the trail of rhyming, cryptic clues around my home hoping to discover my present (which on many an occasion was directly beneath me the entire time – under my bed!). I distinctly remember one very memorable pirate themed birthday party where little costumed guests had to follow a map and dig in a sand pit to recover the prize. And another party (this one my own) where my friends were invited to each choose a trail of lollies to follow around our garden, one of which led to a sweet covered witches house straight from the pages of Hansel and Gretel. My love for treasure hunts has never faded and since I became Muslim and had children of my own, I have waited excitedly for the right occasion to include them in my own children’s celebrations!
Eid treasure hunt
Eid ul Fitr
This last Eid 2019, Eid ul Fitr, I planned my children’s first Eid treasure hunt. The night before Eid, I snuck into my boys room with a enormous armful of helium balloons, each with note attached. All but one balloon had a note attached which read things like ‘Eid Mubarak’, ‘Eid kisses’, ‘Have a wonderful day!’ etc. The final balloon had the location of the first clue written on it. When my boys awoke on Eid morning, after they recovered from the surprise of seeing their ceiling covered in balloons, their first task was to read through each note in order to find the one that would lead them to the first clue. Their first clue led them to the Eid prayers. Following the prayers they were led on a treasure hunt all around our city by solving the cryptic rhyming clues I had prepared, 10 locations in all. Because of the wide ranging, sometimes outdoor public locations, I held all of the clues with me and provided the children with their next clue as we arrived at each destination. Of course if you knew people in shops or at each destination you could leave the clues in their possession ready to hand to the eager treasure hunters.
Our destinations included (amongst other things), an archery range to discover their Eid present which was a bow and arrows, a picnic brunch in the park, a dear friend of mine’s house who was hosting a children’s Eid party, a store filled with maps and globes where a special surprise awaited, and to a special 4D screening of Aladdin. It was an action packed day that lasted from the early morning until well after dark!
Eid ul Adha
For Eid ul Adha you could also use the same treasure hunt format as I used for Eid ul Fitr to enable your children to uncover their Eid gifts or you could also try something more educational. For example, why not send your children on a hunt around the house to uncover the various steps of Hajj in order?
How to play:
If in a large group, it’s advisable to place time limits on the hunt. Children under 6 have a 40-minute concentration capacity. For children over 8, one hour is a good length for a game. However, I found that my children (aged 2, 4 and 7) were excited by and thoroughly engaged with our Eid ul Fitr hunt for the entire day!
1) Choose a theme and location:
A house, garden, backyard, shopping center, local park or forest, there are so many places where you can organize treasure hunts. Remember that the location will impact the riddles as they indicate where the next clue is hidden.
2) Plan out your clues:
The clues will guide your players from one spot to the next, building anticipation for the treasure they’ll find at the end. Place your clues where the kids can’t see. Treasure hunt clues are more fun if they require a bit of solving. They should be suitable for each age: neither too easy nor too complex. Puns and rhymes add to the fun. Check out the following rhymes* from Happy Muslim Homeschool (with FREE printable Here):
It’s Eid today, let’s freshen up and shower
I am where you keep your towel
Now it’s time to put on your best clothes
I am where you keep you shoes
Before we leave, let us eat some dates
I am where you keep the plates
Eid salah, let’s get ready to walk
I am where you set the knives and forks
We’re on our way, make takbeer
I am where you snooze and sleep
The imam is giving the khutbah, let’s listen
I am where you wash the dishes
When we finish from salah, let’s choose another way
I am where you usually pray
Giving Eid greetings in fun
I am where you see the morning sun
The food is ready, I’m excited to eat
I am where you brush your teeth
Celebrating Eid makes me so happy
For the final clue – ask mummy and daddy!
*For more ideas, you may also check thespruce website for ready-made clues
3) Hide the treasure/prize for hunting:
Prepare a surprise treasure for your players to find at the end of their quest. Decide where you are going to hide the treasure, and then design your clues leading away from that place – it’s easier to plan hunts backwards. If you are entertaining children of all ages, then perhaps pair up younger ones with older ones. When playing with kids who are too young to read, you can prepare pictures of the items they need to look for as opposed to handing them a word list. It will also help strengthen their picture recognition and build their matching skills in shaa Allah. If you have a lot of kids joining in on the fun, separate them into teams and create two sets of clues, one for each team. Each team has to find its clues only, but keep one treasure at the end. With a larger group, you can have players return to a central location when a clue is found so everyone knows. This way everyone can hear the clue being read aloud, and go off in search of the next one at the same time. Encourage kids to work together and help their teammates so everyone will have fun. Treasure hunts are a good way to practice cooperating and working as a team.
4) Send them on the hunt
Once everything is ready, explain the rules and boundaries to kids (such as location – only the living room, or just the backyard etc.) and then let them enjoy the hunt.
Other ideas to try:
You can check momjunction for different treasure or scavenger hunt ideas. For Islamic-themed activities, you may try the following:
Ramadan treasure hunt
My first Ramadan themed treasure hunt was held several years ago when Kitab Kids was still my eldest son’s book club and prior to the arrival of my younger two children. During Ramadan we met in a beautiful public rose garden close to home and I hid a set of Ramadan themed flashcards (from a free printable kindly created by Smart Ark) for each child in different secret spots around the garden. The first child to collect a complete set and mark each one off on their checklist was the winner. With hindsight, the rose garden with its thorns, while beautiful, was not the greatest spot to have a whole pile of children searching around! However it was a fun filled morning, no one got pricked by any thorns and everyone went home happy with a set of laminated flash cards!
Our second Ramadan treasure hunt was held at a pre-Ramadan party in 2018. I hid words related to Ramadan (lantern, prayer, dates, Eid etc.) all around the park and, as an added bonus, bags of chocolate coins (to represent Eidi money). The child who collected the largest number of words was the winner and received a prize.
Animals in the Quran – zoo treasure hunt
We had our second treasure hunt on a day out at the zoo. I created cryptic clues each relating to an animal found in the Quran which led my children on a trail around the zoo. As they arrived at each animal or creature, they received a colour-in picture of that animal which they put in their little bag containing colour-in pencils and snacks. When we arrived at the final location they each received a little prize (an “animals of the world” sticker book). This was a fabulous opportunity for learning and it’s an activity that I may repeat with my children in a few years time when they’re a little older and can appreciate it on a different level.
You can also try an Arabic alphabet scavenger hunt like this – but with your own Arabic spin! Truly, the possibilities are endless.
I really hope that you’ll a give treasure hunt a go with your own children – they create such incredibly precious memories and so much joy for the entire family! Happy hunting in shaa Allah!
Author’s Bio: Stephanie is a former lawyer turned mother of three from Sydney Australia. She fills her days with her children messing about with paper, crayons, pencils, glue, card and scissors, and posts the resulting creations on her Instagram account, @kitabkids. She is passionate about raising strong, confident and knowledgeable little Muslims and her goal is to imprint a love for Allah SWT and the deen in the hearts of her own children and others across the globe via crafts and books.