Treasure Hunt: Map Activity & Science Experiment

Take students on an adventurous treasure hunt with this thrilling mapping exercise and science experiment! This activity will have students working on reading comprehension, mapping skills, following directions, writing, and science. Bonus! Get free downloads below.

Getting Started
Grab students attention with this unit <free download> about The Lost Dutchman’s mysterious treasure map and undiscovered gold mine. This unit includes a nonfiction story and mystery story, plus comprehension activities from our High-Interest Mini Mysteries binder.

Maps Skills
Take what students learn about the Lost Dutchman’s map and use it as a springboard into your lessons on maps. Teach students about directional words, symbols, grids, using a legend, and so on. Then students are ready to create their own treasure map.

Treasure Hunt: Map Activity & Science Experiment | Remedia Publications
Classroom Treasure Map
(click to enlarge)

Tip: Give students this activity <free download> from our Map Skills book to help teach them about drawing maps and writing directions.

Give every student two copies of a map of your classroom or school. The first copy is so that each student can draw a path and an X where they would hide a treasure in the classroom–this is their “master copy” of the map. The second map will be used for the science experiment portion below.

Invisible Ink Science Experiment
What you’ll need:
– sugar/water, lemon/water, or baking soda/water
– toothpicks, cotton swab, or paint brush
– heat source: light bulb, flame/candle, iron (place the paper under a cloth and iron the cloth), or grape juice (if you use baking soda, you can use juice)

Treasure Hunt: Map Activity & Science Experiment | Remedia Publications
1. Students draw a path to their hidden treasure on their “master copy” of the map.

2. Using their master copy of the map, have students write directions to where they hid a treasure. Challenge students to use directional words, compass rose, make a key, and use descriptive writing.

3. On the second copy of the map, have students use a toothpick or cotton swab to write an X with the invisible ink (see instructions below) on the map to show where they’ve hidden their treasure.

Invisible Ink:
– 2 teaspoons sugar and half a cup of water; use a heat source to make ink visible
– 1/4 cup of lemon juice, one teaspoon water; use a heat source to make ink visible
– 1/4 cup baking soda and 1/4 cup of water; rub grape juice on the area to make ink visible (perfect for younger students) 

Tip: Have each student try a different invisible ink method. At the end, discuss what worked best, how each worked differently, and why.

5. Let invisible ink dry (may take about 30-60 minutes).

6. Once their invisible ink is dry, have students exchange their instructions and map with the invisible X with a partner.

7. Students should follow the instructions that their partner wrote to create a path to the hidden treasure. If they follow directions correctly (and if the instructions are clear), the students should have a line drawn to the invisible ink X.

8. Now students (with adult supervision) can make the invisible ink visible to find out if they successfully found the X and the hidden treasure! See heat source options above.

Once everyone has found found the invisible X, as class discuss the science of the invisible ink. What makes the invisible ink appear? Why? What other things can make invisible ink? What do you think invisible ink was used for in the past?

Download this Sugar Secret Code Experiment <free download> from our Hands-On Science Experiments books for additional information.

Map Activity without the Science Experiment
You can also choose to skip the science experiment and simplify the activity, by having each student write directions based on their master map’s drawing to their hidden treasure. Again, challenge students to use directional words, compass rose, make a key, and use descriptive writing.

Then have students exchange their directions with a partner. Each student will read their partner’s instructions. They will follow the directions, drawing a line on the second, blank copy of the map, leading them to find the hidden treasure. This is a great way to assess if students wrote clear instructions and also helps students improve their following directions skills. If the instructions are clear, everyone should find hidden treasure!

Want more practice? 
Check out Remedia’s…
Map Skills
Science Experiments

Previous articleTeaching & Reviewing Essential Survival Signs & Symbols
Next articlePatriotic Pinwheel Craft