How to Make Treasure Map

Written by raina ando, m. a.
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How to Make Treasure Map
Treasure maps don't have to be very detailed, which adds to their mystery. (map image by Ewe Degiampietro from

Kids of all ages enjoy making treasure maps, even without real treasures involved. Making a treasure map is a perfect activity for groups, especially pirate-theme birthday parties for children. The prizes could be found inside a treasure box buried someplace. Guests must use their handmade copy of a treasure map to find it. If you want to make a map locating a treasure, begin at the end, where the treasure is hidden.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Paper large enough for a landscape-size picture
  • Pencil
  • Pen
  • Markers or paint

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  1. 1

    Bury a treasure chest in your back yard or in the sand at the beach. Bury it about 6 inches deep and smooth over the topsoil or sand. If burying the treasure chest at the beach, make sure that it is well above the water level at high tide. Try to make it look like the surrounding sand or dirt. If no dirt areas are available, try to bury the treasure under a plant area where it will be less obvious.

    How to Make Treasure Map
    Use a shovel to bury your treasure chest. (shovel image by Gudellaphoto from
  2. 2

    Paint or stain the paper by using black tea to paint around the edges, creating a browned effect. Let it dry. Draw a map of the yard or beach on a large piece of paper. Include the whole area around the treasure and mark the directions North, South, East and West.

    How to Make Treasure Map
    Black tea can be used as a water colour to artificially age the paper. (old paper image by javarman from
  3. 3

    Draw an "X" to "mark the spot." Designating the end is often the beginning of making the treasure map. Everything else is placed in relation to that location. Landmarks nearby may indicate direction. Draw dotted lines coming from the "X" indicating where to go. Add clues, such as "Take 15 steps past the huge granite rock."

    How to Make Treasure Map
    Pirate treasure maps typically included an "X" to mark the spot of buried treasure. (the letter x image by feisty from
  4. 4

    Draw any landmarks near your buried treasure, such as trees, rocks or buildings. Landmarks are the clues that help a treasure hunter find the treasure. Try to draw the landmarks accurately and even label them if desired. If the landmarks are not correct, it may be difficult for the treasure hunter to find the treasure.

    How to Make Treasure Map
    Trees make good landmarks. (palm tree image by Jan Ebling from
  5. 5

    Tear the edges to make the map look even more worn and aged. After the writing and drawing of the map, it helps to make the ink look old by crumpling the paper.

    How to Make Treasure Map
    Crumple the paper to make it look old. (old paper image by javarman from

Tips and warnings

  • Marcia Miller and Martin Lee, authors of "Every-Day-of-the-School-Year Math Problems," suggest that the parent or caregiver bury a prize and draw a map for the kids to follow. Children will learn how to follow written directions and how to read a map.

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