Exploring collaboration & the learner profile through a treasure hunt

My class has been really interested in treasure hunts. I thought a treasure hunt would be a great way to help students develop the skill of collaboration (part of our unit on relationships).

What we did:

Prep –

  1. I created 2 treasures that could easily be shared (I made envelopes with fake money, since I could easily photocopy the money… it was fast to make this)
  1. I made a very basic map of the playground and photocopied it.
  1. I hid both treasures.
  1. On each map I put an X over the place where I hid the treasure.
  1. I prepared an anchor chart that said: “We worked and played together”
  1. I gathered a bunch of neat art supplies for when the children would make their own treasures.
  1. I took 2 photos of places where I could hide the treasure maps. I printed the photos and glued them to 2 different colors of construction paper. Then I cut them into puzzles (1 into 7 pieces and 1 into 8, so each child would get a puzzle piece). I wrote students’ names on the back of the puzzle pieces, so that I would have two balanced groups.
  2. I whipped up 3 examples of treasures – a gold coin (circular piece of cardboard), bracelet (piece of foam with a gem on it), and bank note (index card with a number written on it).

This sounds like a lot of prep, but it was actually doable in about 20 minutes!

Procedure –

  1. I let the students know that we were going to do something together since our unit is about working together. I showed them the flip chart and told them I’d be writing things I notice on it as we go.
  1. I directed the class to the learner profile board and showed them the caring, communicator, and thinker posters. I said they might be using these traits throughout the treasure hunt. I asked the students to think about which trait they might want to develop more as they do the treasure hunt.
  1. I asked if anyone knew what a map is. Students shared their ideas and experiences about maps.
  1. I showed the class the map of the playground and we identified each item on the map. I asked “If an X was on the map right here, where would you look for the treasure?” etc., to make sure they understood how they could use the map to find the treasure.
  2. I distributed the puzzle pieces and asked the students to work together to find out where the treasure maps were hidden. Once the students put their puzzles together, they found their maps. At this point I facilitated for one of the groups and my TA facilitated the other.
  1. My group found the map in its hiding place under the Lego bin. I facilitated sharing the map so all group members could see it, and then supervised the students as they searched for the treasure on the playground.
  1. When the treasure was found, I asked the students how they could share it.   I facilitated as they divided up the treasure equally.
  1. Once both groups had found and shared their treasures, the class met again on the carpet. I directed the students to the flip chart and said I had already noticed a lot of sharing and encouraging.
  1. I told the class that they would get to make their own treasures and treasure map.  Together we made a map of the classroom. This was basically like a modeled writing experience except with mapping. I started by asking “Should I make the door a rectangle?” and the students said yes. I put the door on the map. Then I said things like, “What’s a very important thing near the door that we should add to the map?” (It was interesting to hear what the students think are important things in the room!) The students said the birthday bulletin board was important, so I drew a cupcake (there are cupcakes on that board).  Then I would call on someone and say, “Can you go to that corner there and tell me what I should add to the map?” The kids had great ideas.  We made the map in about 5 minutes.
  1. Once the map was finished, I asked the students to think about what THEIR treasure might be like – a coin, a bill, a piece of jewelry, artwork… I showed them 3 examples that I had whipped up in seconds.  I wanted the students to be creative but I also wanted to give them SOME ideas just in case they really didn’t have anything in mind!
  1. I told the students we had really cool materials and asked them for ideas on how we could share the materials for making treasures. The class made some suggestions. The idea we went with was that I would call kids up one by one to pick a reasonable amount of materials. Then if there were leftovers kids could take more.  I made sure that this conversation only took about 1 minute so that kids weren’t totally bored on the carpet for too long!
  1. Students got materials from the materials table I had set up and then made their treasures.
  1. I asked the class to think of ways we could share the cleanup responsibilities. Someone suggested that everyone clean their own area and then help others. The students cleaned up.

Tomorrow the class will hide the treasures!

learner_profile_board blur

Photo: The students placed their pictures next to the learner profile characteristic they planned to try to demonstrate during the experience. (These child-friendly learner profile posters are for sale at Miss Marker’s Teachers Pay Teachers store!)


Photo: This was a puzzle that students worked together to solve.  It showed where the treasure map is hidden!


Photo: This is the map of the classroom that the students helped me make.  I was impressed that one of the students was able to correctly draw the color on each of the tables.  This showed he knew which table was which on the map!


Photo: Anchor chart.


Photo: Me telling the students to think about what kind of treasure they could make.  This was an important step so the students would be able to create treasures without a lot of direction.  It worked! The students spent nearly an hour so engaged while crafting their jewelry, bills, and artwork.


Photo: Making treasures



I actually did this lesson last week with a different group of students and my PYP coordinator observing.  During our reflection afterwards we discussed a few things which I improved when I repeated the lesson here: giving the students a few ideas about treasures they could make, being sure to offer ample time for kids to make their treasures, and having an anchor chart with the objective.  Another thing she pointed out was that there were times I could step back and let the children work out challenges, such as when it was time to clean up.

If I redid this lesson again, there is nothing I would change! It was amazing to see how the students worked together, helped each other, and used encouraging words. The students were sharing glitter and glue, helping each other clean up, etc.  I couldn’t pull the students away from their treasure-creating, we even went 30 minutes into snack time and recess!

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