Practical puzzles for a treasure hunt.
March 22, 2021 6:23 AM   Subscribe

A couple of years ago I did an egg hunt which was very popular. Now I want to do another bigger and better! Can you think of any set piece puzzles I can build that need to be solved with lateral thinking.

My first thought was something like a tube with a floating clue in and you need to fill the tube with water to float out the clue.

But what I am looking for is some puzzle station type ideas. They could take any form, but ideally I want there to be a clue out of the end and it not to need adjudication. (By which I mean, nothing like, "answer these riddles and the adult will give you the clue")
posted by Just this guy, y'know to Grab Bag (5 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Something that requires perspective thinking? Like you have to align things a certain way to see the clue?
posted by kschang at 6:25 AM on March 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

Escape rooms have a lot of these types of clues. I don't know if you have a budget, but if you could get some cheap combination locks, you could lock up a clue in a box and have a word game to get the four numbers to open it.

You could have clues written in clear wax and leave some crayons or watercolors next to the clue with instructions that refer to coloring in to reveal, etc.

Clues could be written in simple code, with numbers referencing letters, perhaps (depending on the age of the participants, it may be too complex for younger kids).

A clue up high (in a tree, maybe?) with a pair of binoculars to read it?
posted by xingcat at 6:42 AM on March 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

One year my parents did a treasure hunt for my birthday and I will never forget the clue baked into a muffin. I think it was the first clue of the hunt as it was served to me for breakfast. Blew my little mind.
posted by RobinofFrocksley at 7:29 AM on March 22, 2021 [5 favorites]

If you can divide the components of a clue between six identically-sized pictures, you can make a cube puzzle from a suitable number of cardboard cubes. Find all six pictures, then figure out how to put the six elements together to form the clue.

Finding the elusive sixth face of a hexaflexagon is always a challenge.

Following up on kschang's suggestion, you could try your hand at some anamorphosis.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 8:01 AM on March 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

Okay, I'll bite. I don't know about lateral thinking but most of my Easter hunts had two steps to each reward. Often, given the uncertain weather locally and the need to set the eggs out prior, with the first part based in "the library" and latterly on the interweb: address to identify [the one patch of] rhubarb
A picture of books + a long number, leads to a particular book via ISBN. That book reveals an egg on the shelf behind.
Same book can be used for the next clue using page#, line#, word# to spell out a message.
Short doggerel verses can provide an excuse for a certain poetic obscurity that needs to be figured out.
If you're writing anything out for one clue, you can colour specific letters to make another message [plain or anagram]
Codes are fun: quite young kids are up for rot-13 or a simple Caesar's code,
One year I bought a bunch of sideplates 10c in Oxfam; painted a single letter on the bottom and scattered them along a linear public park near home. Each plate had a small egg underneath and the letters could be arranged to locate a bigger final source of calories/cavities.
The following year I nailed the ♥s from a pack of cards in A 2 3 order to trees in the same park and secreted an egg near each one. The childer knew there were no more eggs when they had 13 cards.
If all you have is a field, bury the eggs showing only a fragment of the bright wrapping. Start the kids with a length of cord tied to two wooden pegs and say the next buried egg is a radius away from the last: requires the co-op of a child at each end.
No child was hurt at these events, no can-openers were involved.
posted by BobTheScientist at 12:13 PM on March 22, 2021 [2 favorites]

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