The treasure hunt game I set out for the kids to play was not very complicated (I have a small house and had to keep them inside), but I think it was fairly fun. Alas, and despite my friend Lola’s words of wisdom, I overestimated the ability of the kids (4-9 yo) to read and understand the clues, they needed quite a bit of extra help. I still think the clues are great, though, I just would use them with kids at least 10 yo.

The way the game work is that the kids were divided in 3 teams and each team was given a “clue” card, with a question or task they had to perform before being given the next card. There were 6 cards altogether, the last one indicating where the treasure was. All the teams had the same cards (except for the last one, I had separate treasure for each team, to make sure they each got something), but I put them in different order so teams were working on different clues (at least in theory, some teams were slower than other). Here were the clues (with the answers):

ankh necklaces
“For your first clue
you must bring me life.”

When the party started, I gave all the kids a necklace with an ankh amulet (which the kids and I made using our Fun with Egyptian Amulets kit, and told them that the ankh was the symbol of life. The idea was that they had to come to me and show me the amulet. Some figured it out, and some did not.

“He is the son of Isis and Osiris.
Destroyer of the evil Set.
With his eye
he offers safety and protection
He stands proud before his temple.
Who is he and where does he stand?”

The answer was Horus at Edfu. I gave each kid an amulet of the eye of Horus (made with the kit mentioned above) and set out the booklet of amulets that came with the kit, which identified all the amulets. I underlined the name Horus in the description of this amulet, to make it clearer. I also had a number of coloring sheets set out on the table which showed a map of Egypt surrounded by the gods (you can see the map here, but it’s not a high quality image, I copied it from the King Tut coloring book). Next to each god there is his name and the location of his main temple. Alas, I don’t think any of the kids noticed these coloring pages. I had also set out a large picture of me hugging Horus at the Edfu temple which I labeled “Marga at Edfu”. So all in all, with a little pushes (look around!) they mostly figured it out.

“The red land
where the dead live
and the living die.
Find its name
in the ancient language
and in the one you speak.”

The answer was “dshrt and desert”.

Above this clue I wrote the word for desert “dshrt” in hieroglyphs (hand, pool, mouth, bread loaf, place marker). I printed a large key sheet of hieroglyphs to Roman letters and taped it to the bookcase next to the table where the kids were working. It was the same key that I had set out for the kids to write their names in hieroglyphs. This wasn’t too difficult and undertaking, but I made a couple of mistakes. One is that I was using the Middle Egyptian conventions for the hieroglyph key, and there is no “L” sound in ME, so I substituted it with the “r” sound (the open mouth). Alas, that was confusing because some children transliterated the word as “dshlt”. Also, I should have mentioned to the kids before I gave them the clue that only consonants are written in Ancient Egyptian, and that we add “e” sounds after each consonant to pronounce them. Once I told them that, it was quite easy for them to go from “dshrt” to “desheret” to desert.

The beautiful one has arrived
Wife of Akhetatun
worshiper of the sun
She lives in permanent beauty
under her blue crown
Find her name and color a picture of her for your next clue.

Answer: Nefertiti.

Here I set out different coloring pages of Nefertiti on the table (but without her name). There were a couple of pictures of Nefertiti wearing her blue crown on the walls of the house, and I’d colored in her crown in one of the coloring books that had her name. And of course, we’d talked about her earlier in the day as well. Still, this proved a bit confusing as there was a girl (Tut’s wife) wearing a sort-of-blue crown on the cover of the coloring book – my bad. But this only confused one of the teams.

Without it, there is no life in the land of Egypt.
I think I’m hungry.
Bring me a piece.

Answer: bred

I set this clue under the hieroglyph for T, a loaf of bread. They had the key to the hieroglyphs on the wall, but I also had a small booklet with hieroglyphs that said what each hieroglyph represented. Once they figured that out, they had to find a piece of bread and bring it to me. This wasn’t too hard.

Finally, it was time for the treasure clues. My back and front yard are very small, and I thought the clues were pretty clear, and yet the kids spent lots and lots of time outside searching for the treasure. Well, I think this is the part they enjoyed the most in any case – and they’d have been just as happy without the clues. Here they are, though:

“They can be found in the dessert
providing shade and dates
you can use its leaves to fan yourself.
Search for one and look at its base FOR TREASURE.”

This was for treasure left under the palm tree at the back of the backyard

“It’s a dark place,
almost as dark and dense as the jungle.
Marked by tall plants, trees and ferns.
Search carefully

I’d put the treasure behind some plants in the darkest/densest part of our patio.

“The colors of Christmas
or of life and blood
without the pain of thorns.
Search nearby

This was for treasure meant to be left under the red camellia bush by our porch. The kids had difficulty with it because 1) they just hurried to the backyard, assuming that it’d be there like the other kids’ treasure and 2) I’d asked Mike to hide it, and apparently he did not hide it under the camellia bush but under the roses (which I’d wanted to avoid for obvious reasons). Still, Camila finally found it.

The treasure boxes were shoe boxes that I’d wrapped in aluminum foil. Inside I put a lot of old jewelry I no longer wanted, a lot of homemade necklaces and bracelets (I love beading, just for its relaxation aspects), some little toys, a couple of keychains with Egyptian amulets we made and some candy. I gave each kid a paper bag on which Mika had stamped their name in hieroglyphs and written them in English. Mika and Camila had decorated them with Egyptian stickers, but they didn’t actually stick to the paper bags very well. C’est la vie.

Anyway, the kids had a great time playing the game and then dividing up the treasure. Camila, of course, threw a tantrum when she didn’t get to open her team’s treasure box, but that’s Camila for you.