Week 5: A Sensory Treasure Adventure

Ahoy me harties!

Another magical week on the Out to Play project. I wanted to send the classes of on their Easter holidays with a bang, so decided to create a pirate treasure hunt journey for them to revisit some of our learning over the weeks as well as introduce some nature connection exercises that explore our sensory experience of the natural world.

Treasure hunts are my favourite thing to make EVER. I get so much out of the process of working out the mechanics of the journeys and then creating worlds for people to inhabit and see how much they love it. It’s such a different substance to most performances, where audiences sit passively, judge their experience purely on what they witness and applaud when the curtain falls. With hunts, the more participants inhabit the imaginary adventure the more they get out of the experience, which is why children take to it so quickly.

I feel we are hardwired for adventure. I see so many people come alive when given a magical mysterious challenge to navigate with the promise of treasure at the end! It’s such a great way of teaching too. Rearranging letters to decipher the next destination; discovering objects and then counting them using times tables; Answering challenging riddles that support logical deduction; collaborating and working as a team; engaging in physical exercise as they run between challenges; spending time outdoors and learning about natural processes. You can really shape treasure hunts to be about anything in the curriculum, and is much more fun than a quiz at the end of a topic. They have the opportunity to inhabit the learning and grow.

With younger primary groups I found that the best way to create a clear adventure is to lead them as a whole class through the clues one at a time, but with the older ones you can get them into smaller groups (3-5 works best) and give them each a different point to start on a ‘circular’ journey where they have to collect a letter of the alphabet written on each clue. When they have gathered all the letters they need to rearrange them to discover the final site for the treasure. I often choose this place to be back where the hunt began but which has somehow magically changed. This has a nice cyclical quality to it whilst mirroring natural processes of life, water, etc.

There are always coordination challenges with hunts, and this week was no exception. Blizzards, black ice, missing clues, overexcited children mixing them up… not to mention the fact that some of the hunt areas were also playgrounds which meant frantically running around clearing and then setting up as soon as the bells rang. After the first day the clues were all so soggy they were falling apart and impossible to read so I ended up having to laminate them to ensure they would last a week in Glasgow! This was met with a sarcastic “I never knew pirates had laminators” comment from a P7. It was actually very challenging to do without a co-conspirator and I’m certainly paying the price for all that frantic maze drawing and clue hiding now the week is over! The look on their faces when they discovered the treasure chest makes it all so worth it though.

I’ve learnt so much this last term, and I hope the classes have too. I will carry with me such special moments with each of the 250 children I have the privilege to spend time with these last few weeks, and I look forward to many more in next terms Out to Play adventures!

I will leave you with a poem written by a P5 child after last weeks session on the journey of water: