Monday, July 23, 2012

Treasure Maps - X Marks the Spot!

It's midway through summer vacation and I love when my girls can spend the day lost in imagination play. If we build a fort out of chairs and blankets, soon there will be puppet shows, camping adventures, stuffed animal petting zoos, and flashlight tea parties.  I had almost forgotten about something I made them last year on a whim, but here they are, one year later, still playing with it today.  Everyone seems to be on a pirate/treasure kick lately, with Jake and the Neverland Pirates from Disney, Pirates of the Caribbean, Tinkerbell and the Lost Treasure... and seriously, who doesn't love to go on a good ol' treasure hunt adventure?  

A bamboo treasure map - perfect for imagination play
I wanted to make my girls some roll up maps.  At first I was going to use construction paper, but I did not think that would hold up well with all the rolling and unrolling and stuffing in backpacks.  I was wandering around the Target $1/clearance section when I found a 4-pack of bamboo placemats for $2.50.  They had both plain and bright colors.  I thought four different colored maps would be extra fun, depending on which "treasure" you were searching for.

multi-colored bamboo placemats make great treasure maps! 
I did say 4-pack and well we did have a yellow one, but I think Captain Hook might have stolen it...hmm, that sneaky scalawag...  After that all you really need is a black, thick sharpy and a bit of imagination.  Older kids can draw their own maps, but as mine were still little at the time I asked each girl where she wanted her map to go.  Now, I'm no artist, and bumpy bamboo is not the easiest medium to sketch on, but I made a starting point and made a dotted path through different areas to an "X" marks the spot at the end.  Wander by the water fall and through the double crossed palm trees...

Be sure to be extra quiet when you tippy toe past whatever is sleeping in the large cave (my girls like to change what's sleeping in there, is is a bear?  A dragon? A giant?) and pass the turtle farm...

And when you reach the mermaid lagoon you know the treasure is close by!

Each map was different.  My littlest wanted a map to grandma's house

My middle child wanted a volcano, a pirate ship, a dolphin cove, and a picture of the treasure chest.  She also wanted to gussy this one up with her own colors, which is why it is extra colorful.

The great things about these placemat treasure maps is that it would work for BOTH boys and girls.  You can draw random fun things like us, or have it actually lead to some kind of "real" treasure, like at a birthday party.  They are sturdy enough that you can roll and unroll them many times, stuff them in backpacks, and the girls just love them.  I just heard my middle child say, "let's go to the volcano next, but look out for hot lava" to her little sister. You can really let your imagination soar with these maps.  They have literally kept my girls busy for large chunks of the afternoon.  By the way, since the Target clearance/$1 section does not always have the same stuff each season, you could also look for cheap placemats at party stores in the luau section, or even the dollar tree has "straw" placemats for $1 each. Good luck and happy treasure hunting!

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