How to Create a Treasure Map

Updated April 17, 2017

Traditionally, treasure maps are old, weathered pieces of paper with visual directions, landmarks, mysterious place names and written clues. They can be used for kids' parties, school activities, stage props or just for fun. So whether you are having a pirate-themed party for your kids or creating an authentic map for an art project, you can easily make a treasure map with a little bit of creativity and a lot of imagination.

Think about the route your treasure map will follow. Make sure that the treasure is hidden or buried in a safe place that will be undisturbed until your treasure hunters find it. Also ensure that the starting point on the map is easy to recognise and find.

Take a blank piece of white paper and gently tear the edges off to make it look old and tattered. Be careful not to tear too much of the paper off; you want to have space to write on.

Use a pen to draw and decorate your treasure map. You should indicate the end of the map with a large "X" and draw a compass in one of the corners of the paper. Add landmarks onto the map to make a route that is recognisable to the treasure hunters. You can also draw a dotted line to represent a walking route or write distances between landmarks in footsteps.

For example, if you are making a map for a garden treasure hunt, the pond could be a landmark 20 steps away from a tree that is 30 steps away from the shed, and so on.

Finish your map and crumple the whole piece of paper into a ball. Unfold the crumpled paper and flatten the page out; this makes the treasure map appear old and used.

Take a wet, used tea bag and dab it over both sides of the crumpled paper until there is no white paper visible. The treasure map will now look weathered and ancient. Let the paper dry overnight or use a hairdryer on low heat if you don't have enough time.

Finish your treasure map by spreading a small amount of cooking oil over both sides of the now-dry paper. Wipe off any excess oil with paper towels.


Instead of a visual route, you can use written clues or verses on your treasure map to lead the hunters to their next location. Add excitement to your treasure hunt by placing dangerous zones on the map for the hunters to carefully avoid.


Avoid burning fingers by letting the tea bag cool if it has been used in hot water.

Things You'll Need

  • Pen
  • Pencil
  • Used tea bag
  • Cooking oil
  • Paper towels
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About the Author

Matthew Caines began writing and editing in 2008 and has since gained valuable experience in the publishing industry working for national publications such as "The Guardian," "Sartorial Male," "AREA Magazine," "Food & Drink Magazine," "Redbrick Newspaper" and "REACH Magazine." He has a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of Birmingham, U.K.