Early Years Numeracy: Treasure Hunts

Treasure hunts can be a great way of introducing mathematical concepts and encouraging mathematical development in early years settings …they can also be great fun! Hide a large collection of the same kind of objects (treasure) in the garden/ in sand for children to find , count and order. Use counting trays in rows to count large quantities. Arrange straws/ Chenille stem (worms) Ribbon/ string, lengths of chain treasure (all of different lengths, widths  and thicknesses in size order.

Hide a specific quantity (up to the number children can reliably count) of larger objects eg bears for the children to find. Encourage calculating with the more able. I hid 10, you have found 4, I wonder how many more you need to find.


Hide different coloured sets of numerals for pairs or small groups to find. Challenge them to arrange them in order and to find e.g. the correct number of conkers or acorns or windfall apples or small potatoes or leaves to correspond with each number. Provide a number line for each group to match against to begin with and then reduce this to one for reference as they become more skilled.


Be aware when you hide large quantities on the effect of the environment. Natural objects blend in if they are left behind.


A copy of this article is available to download in our Early Years Numeracy Activities booklet

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