Spanish Version

Treasure Hunt

Science Activity

Take advantage of students' interest in treasure hunts to help them learn about a science topic.


  • Reference materials, such as encyclopedias, nonfiction books, children's magazines, and science textbooks
  • Index cards


  1. For the treasure hunt, you will need to prepare questions about a topic in science, such as volcanoes, and then write each question on an index card. (The number of questions depends upon the size of your class). Some questions about volcanoes might be:
    • What makes a volcano erupt?
    • What happens when a volcano erupts?
    • Which U. S. state has the most volcanoes?

  2. Create an icon or symbol for each reference source and place those books and magazines in different parts of the classroom. Use the icons and the locations to create sites on a "treasure map" that students can follow to find the answers to their questions. Number the treasure sites on the map to correspond to the questions. Each student or group will need their own map.

  3. Have each student or group choose three questions and use the treasure map to help them find answers to their questions.

  4. Encourage students to footnote each answer with the source they used to answer the question and write it in the style you normally require for writing reference sources.


  • Have students work in groups to make their own treasure maps. They can research a topic of interest, develop three questions about the topic, and create a treasure map that other students can use to answer might those questions. You want to make the basic map and have students create their own icons and other symbols to personalize their maps. Once each group has finished their maps, arrange a map swap and let the treasure hunt begin.

  • Work with the whole class to create a treasure map large enough to display in your a school hallway. Invite other classes to go on a treasure hunt. The library, computer lab, or even other teachers could be locations (resources) on the map.

You may download, print and make copies of this page for use in your classroom, provided that you include the copyright notice shown below on all such copies.

Copyright © 1997 Houghton Mifflin Company. All Rights Reserved.