Going on A Treasure Hunt!

By Alicia Reeves, August 23, 2010

Grade Level

  • PreK-1


  • Architecture

Subject Area

  • Mathematics
  • Social Studies

Lesson Time

315 minutes for classroom activities.


This lesson is designed to teach Kindergarten students map skills in a fun and inventive way. In Kindergarten, students are required to understand that maps are a model of the real thing, that they help us find places.  They learn about symbols, bird’s eye view, north, south, east, and west.

Student groups will use the design process to create a map to help other student groups find their group's hidden treasure in the classroom.


National Standards

Common Core English Language Arts Strand Writing Kindergarten W.K.2. Use a combination of drawing,dictating, and writing to compose informative/explanatory texts in which they name what they are writing about and supply some information about the topic. Common Core English Language Arts Strand Speaking and Listening Kindergarten SL.K.1. Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about kindergarten topics and texts with peers and adults in small and large groups. SL.K.4. Describe familiar people, places, things, and events and, with prompting and support, provide additional detail. SL.K.5. Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions as desired to provide additional detail. SL.K.6. Speak audibly and express thoughts, feelings, and ideas clearly. Common Core Mathematics K-2 Cluster Identify and describe shapes (squares, circles, triangles, rectangles, hexagons, cubes, cones, cylinders, and spheres). Kindergarten K.G.1. Describe objects in the environment using names of shapes, and describe the relative positions of these objects using terms such as above, below, beside, in front of, behind, and next to. Cluster Analyze, compare, create, and compose shapes. Kindergarten K.G.5. Model shapes in the world by building shapes from components (e.g., sticks and clay balls) and drawing shapes.


Standard 1. Understands the characteristics and uses of maps, globes, and other geographic tools and technologies

Level Pre-K. Understands that maps can represent his or her surroundings

Standard 4. Understands the physical and human characteristics of place Level I (Grade K-2) 1. Knows the physical and human characteristics of the local community (e.g., neighborhoods, schools, parks, creeks, shopping areas, airports, museums, sports stadiums, hospitals) Mathematics Standard 5. Understands and applies basic and advanced properties of the concepts of geometry Level Pre-K (Grade Pre-K) 2. Understands the common language used to describe position and location (e.g., "up," "down," "below," "above," "beside," "inside," "outside") Life Skills - Working With Others Standard 1. Contributes to the overall effort of a group Level Pre-K (Grade Pre-K) 1. Participates in a variety of group and individual activities, tasks, and play 2. Cooperates with others in play and group activities


Students will:

  • understand that maps can show locations referenced in stories and real-life situations
  • realize that maps can show simple drawings of classrooms, kitchens, bedrooms, playgrounds, neighborhoods, rivers, oceans, etc.
  • develop awareness of maps and globes using the following information as a guide --

a) They show a view from above

b) They show things/objects as they are, only smaller

c) They show the position/location of things/objects



Promethian Board Chart on Maps

wall maps




  • wall map
  • atlas
  • globe
  • local amusement park map
  • models of everyday items: car, airplane, doll house furniture
  • graham crackers
  • raisins
  • pretzel sticks
  • shoe boxes
  • various raft supplies (Note: These can be whatever you are already using to decorate their “treasure chests.”)
  • lined paper (to create lists)
  • flip chart (for teacher chart)
  • large butcher block paper (to create map)
  • crayons
  • markers
  • colored pencils
  • colored paper


  • bird’s eye view: a view from a high angle as if seen by a bird in flight
  • map: a representation usually on a flat surface of the whole or a part of an area
  • symbol: something that stands for or represents something else
  • treasure: something of great worth or value


Day 1: 1. Explain to the students that they will be completing a five day activity based on what will be taught today so it is very important that they sit and listen.

2. Introduce the concept of models by showing models of cars, airplanes, boats, dollhouse furniture, etc.

3. Have the students describe what these items are. Ask, “Are they the real things? Can we drive them? Why or why not?”

4. Ask, “Why would we want things that are smaller than the real things?”

5. Explain to the students that these things are called symbols, and that we use symbols all the time. Ask, “Can you think of any other symbols?”  Write the word “symbol” and its definition on the board.

Day 2:

1. Remind the students of the word “symbol.” Point out the definition to the students. Explain that the class will be adding definitions all week.

2. Review the symbols from yesterday.

3. Introduce the globe.  Ask, “What is it a symbol of?” Explain that the globe represents both land and water.

4. Show the wall map. Ask, “What is it a symbol of?” Explain that the wall map represents both land and water.

5. Ask, “Why do we need maps? What is a map? How would we use a map?”

6. Ask, “Who has been to an amusement park?” Use the amusement park map to show a map of a place many of them have been to. Tell the students to look at the details. Ask, “What kinds of things did the map maker include? Why are these things important? Did the map maker leave some things out? Why or Why not?”

(Note: Remember that a lot of Kindergarten learning involves thinking through oral expression, both on the part of the teacher and the students.)

Day 3:

1. Review symbols again, and go over maps that you went over yesterday. Review what the students have learned so far.

2. Explain that today is going to be a fun day. Say, “We will be working as a team to create a map of our classroom.”

3. On the board, create a list of the things that the students see in the room. This list will get long but make sure everyone has input.

4. Go over the list.  Ask, “What types of things could be left out? What things must we have? Why?”

5. Introduce the term “bird’s eye view.”  Ask the students to now imagine that they are flying over the room.  Ask, “What does the room look like from there. What do you see?”

6. Have the students create an edible bird’s eye view map.

7. Eat and enjoy!

Day 4:

1. Break students into groups.  (Note: They may already be at tables that will work as groups.)

2. Show the students a treasure map. Ask them to describe what a treasure map is.  Ask, “What are treasure maps used for? Would it be fun to find a treasure map?  Why?  If you could create a treasure map what things would you use?  What would be your treasure?  Remember nothing is too big or small.”

3. Explain that this treasure map is one that you created and that it will lead to hidden treasure.  Make sure to make something wrong with your map so that you can discuss the importance of the user.

4. As a class, follow the map you made to find the hidden treasure: the supplies each group will need to create their own maps and treasure chests.

5. Ask, “Who was the map written for?  What could have made it easier?  Why is it important to make a map that someone can follow?”

6. Get them into groups to begin brainstorming the things they would include in their treasure map. What would they want it to look like?  How would they create it?  (Note: This may be a good day to have parent volunteers present to help with the writing in each group.)

Day 5:

1. Have the students work in groups to create bird’s eye view classroom treasure maps and treasure chests.

2. Make sure you walk around the room and ask questions about the maps the students are making, such as why they included this or left this out, where are they going to put their treasure and why?  This questioning helps the students think through the process of creation. It helps them see things from someone else\'s point of view.  Remind the students that someone else will have to follow their map.

3. Remind the students of the map you created and that they (the user) had a difficult time following.  Remind them that their classmates have to use this map during the creation process.

Day 6:

1. Today the students get to follow the maps!  This will be very exciting and noisy.  Enjoy the learning in ACTION!

Day 7:

1. Hold a classroom discussion.  Ask, “What did we learn in the creation of maps?  What would each group do differently?  What did we learn when others were following our maps?”

2. Create “I Learned” posters for the hallway.


1) Examination of group maps

2) Observation of group activity

3) Ability of students to follow others\' maps

4) Group explanation of the map process: the steps the students went through to create the map, what they found important to include, things they left out

Enrichment Extension Activities

Possible homework: each student could create a map of his or her bedroom

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