My 3 year old actually fell asleep for nap, I had a to-do list a mile long, and my 5 year old kept begging me to play with him. Does this scenario happen in your house too? I needed to come up with an activity on the fly to keep him occupied, so I got out some paper plates, markers, and printer paper and this backyard pirate treasure hunt was born.
Pirate themed imaginative play has been a major part of our lives for as long as I can remember. I think I have just as much fun putting together a pirate theme week as my kids have playing. You can read last year’s Talk Like a Pirate Day activities here. We even made a massive cardboard pirate ship for my son’s third birthday.
This summer we attended a Pirate Expedition in Lewes, DE complete with cannons that shot water. The kids had an amazing time reading the map and looking for the landmarks so we decided to recreate it in our backyard.
Create Your Own Backyard Pirate Treasure Hunt
First, I gave my 5 year old some paper plates, markers, and a blank sheet of printer paper. I explained that he would make a map using different landmarks, like the giant squid or Blackbeard’s Tomb, just like on the pirate ship. Then he’d put them on the map so we knew what order to follow them to the treasure.
He proceeded to collect every pirate book in the house, and our Step-by-Step Drawing Book, to figure out how to draw the landmarks he wanted to use.
Here’s his final map:
They filled an old wooden box with toys and treasures, then we took turns hiding it around the yard and placing the paper plate landmarks. We’ve been reading Pirate Stories from Usborne’s Illustrated Pirate Stories and it amazes me that my boys pick up and use the pirate vocabulary and language they heard in the stories.
They gathered the patio furniture cushions in the middle of the yard to make a ship and even ate tomatoes out of the garden so they wouldn’t get scurvy. Then they buried the treasure chest in the mulch.
This activity was so much fun, it will probably become a regular part of our play.
Read some of our favorite books about Pirates:
Click on the links to gather more great ideas to treasure with PIRATES!
• Make Your Own Pirate Treasure – The Gingerbread House
• DIY Pirate Vest & Patch – Play Dough & Popsicles
• Toilet paper roll pirates – Just Another Mom
• Set Sail with this DIY Pirate Boat – The Resourceful Mama
• It’s a Pirate’s Life for Me – Study at Home Mama
• Pirates Love Underpants Sensory Bin – Adventures of Adam
• Free Pirate Play Dough Mats Numbers 1-10 – Life Over C’s
• Pirate Science: Fool’s Gold, Parrots and Shipwrecks! – Share it! Science News
• Pirate Colouring Pages – In The Playroom
• Pirate Books for Kids of All Ages – Superheroes and Teacups
• Treasure Chest Craft– Messy Little Monster
• How Did Pirates Navigate? How to Read a Map – Schooling a Monkey
• Pirate Sensory Bin – Life with Moore Babies
• Pirate Preschool Printable – Living Life and Learning
• How to Make Some Great Pirate Flags – Witty Hoots
• Perfect Parrot Masks for Pirate Day Fun – Peakle Pie
• Pirate Perler Bead Patterns – Brain Power Boy
• Going on a Pirate Treasure Hunt – Play & Learn Everyday
• DIY Pirate Ship and Pirate Movie Night -CraftCreateCalm
• Pirate Treasure Math Printables – Kidz Activities
• Treasure Alphabet Match – The Kindergarten Connection
• Make Your Own Pirate Map – My Little Poppies
• Treasure Map Grid Activity – My Little Poppies
• Make Your Own Map and Treasure Hunt – My Little Poppies
• Create a FLOATING Pirate Ship! – Milk and Cuddles
• Pirate Puppet Craft -Sugar Aunts
• Hidden Treasure Cupcakes – Emmy’s Mummy
• Non Scary Pirate Books and Movies – Edventures with Kids
• Gold Nuggets – Kelly’s Classroom
• Fizzing Pirate Treasure Adventure – Preschool Powol Packets