Finding treasures is one of the best parts of taking a big trip. Whether it’s hunting for the perfect souvenir or finding a heart-shaped rock on the beach to remember that heart-stopping sunset. But even when we are home we can find treasures in our own backyards and neighborhoods. The world is full of beautiful things to collect. Here's everything you need to make a treasure bag, go on a hunt and create art with the amazing things you'll find. 

Getting started

Parents, you can make this into a multi-day activity or use all the ideas to make one full day of treasure hunting. The bag is simple to make, and children as young as four can do most of it with limited help from mom or dad – but it does take about an hour to an hour and a half of steady concentration, which is a lot for the really little ones, so you might want to break it up into two parts.

The hunt and the art creation can take as long as you want. It's all up to you and your kiddos. 

A piece of felt and two spools of yard
Simple supplies: a rectangle of felt, some embroidery thread, a needle and a thicker weight yarn are all you need for this project © Sarah Stocking / Lonely Planet

Making your treasure bag

This tutorial is from Linden Waldorf School teacher Shelley Jacobs and her incredible homeschool curriculum. The strap is finger-knitted out of a heavier-weight yarn and the body is made from felt using either a blanket stitch or whip stitch. Gather your supplies in advance and have everything ready for kids to launch in. 

Materials

  • One long string of heavier-weighted yarn - about 60”
  • A rectangular piece of felt around 8" x 10"
  • Embroidery thread or yarn
  • Needle for sewing

Step 1: Have the child finger knit a chain about 32” long with yarn. If you’ve never finger knit before, check out this tutorial from Sarah Baldwin. Make a slipknot to start and hand the knot to the child. They can hold the yarn by the knot and using their index finger and thumb go through the loop to grab the yarn and pull it up and through. The new loop will be bigger than the first, and the child can pull the tail a little to make it smaller and repeat. Keep going until the chain is long enough to loop over the head to make a cross-body bag. 

Step 2: Set the finger-knit chain aside and place your felt horizontally. 

Step 3: Fold the felt in half so the 8-inch sides are even and you have a 5" x 8" pouch.

Step 4: With the needle and embroidery thread sew together the longer vertical edge and one of the horizontal edges using the whip stitch or the blanket stitch. 

Step 5: Sew the finger-knit chain to the top inside edges of the bag. Parents of really little ones might want to do this step, but older kids will be able to do it just fine. 

You now have your own treasure bag! Time to go hunting!

Finding feathers.jpg
It's amazing what you can find on a short walk around the neighborhood © Sarah Stocking / Lonely Planet

Treasure Hunt

Parents, you can create whatever kind of treasure hunt you want, or just let your children roam and fill their bags with whatever they find. 

Sample nature scavenger hunt list:

  • A feather
  • A seed
  • A decaying leaf
  • A red, grey and white rock
  • A leaf chewed by an animal
  • A natural object with a strong smell
  • A piece of litter
  • Natural objects to make music
  • Something about which you have a question
Girl uses grasses and flowers to make a face on a piece of black paper
We decided to collect flowers and grasses to make nature faces inspired by Justina Blakeney © Sarah Stocking / Lonely Planet

Projects to do with your nature treasures

Now it's time to have some fun with all those amazing things you found.

  • Take a look at Justina Blakeney’s Instagram for inspiration on creating portraits with flowers and other natural objects
  • Pick up all the leaves you can find and make a leaf rubbing – place your leaves on a flat surface and cover with a piece of paper.  Using the side of a crayon rub the paper until the pattern on the leaves appears
  • Make a magic stick or wand by wrapping double sided tape around a special stick and attaching all your interesting finds.

For more inspiration on things to do while exploring check out Lonely Planet’s Wild Things book. It's full of magical ideas for exploring. 

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