2019 Summer Game #11: Treasure Hunt

Most of our card games are pretty sedentary, but here’s a game that will get your kids moving. Have you ever tried Treasure Hunt, game P6 in the Math Card Games book? Yes, there’s a game called Treasure Hunt, and it’s a ton of fun!

Treasure Hunt is ostensibly a game for practicing the multiplication facts. But it can actually be used across a wide range of skill levels. I played it with all four of my kids – whose ages range from 4 to 11 – and every child was challenged at their own level. And they loved it!

The basic game is simple: hide the cards from a set of multiplication cards, and have each player find and collect a different multiples set. So, all you need to play is one set of multiplication cards for each player. You can play with just one player or up to ten players, but four or five is a good number. Lucky for me, I have four children, so we’re golden for this game. Here are the sets that I picked for them to find:

How did I make this game work for all of my children? Three things:

First, I chose multiples sets that were targeted to where they were at.

  • Autumn (6) is still working on identifying numbers. I assigned her the 1s multiples.
  • Mary (4) can skip-count by 2s, although she’s a little shaky once she gets past 10. I chose the 2s multiples for her to find.
  • Robbie (11) has been through a few years of multiplication practice now, and although he’s solid on most of it he still has a slower recall for the upper 6s, 7s, and 8s. So I gave him the 7s.
  • Clara (9) has just started formal work on multiplication. I assigned her the 3s multiples.

Second, I allowed some of my players to keep their multiplication envelopes if they needed. I let the younger ones keep theirs, but I required the older two to collect their cards without having the envelope as a resource.

And nally, you can also require the players with a little more emotional maturity to collect their cards in sequential order. That means that if you’re collecting the 7s multiples, you have to find the 7 first; and then the 14, then the 21, and so forth. In a way, this makes the game easier because the player just has to know what the next card is that he’s looking for is; but it also makes the game a little more challenging because he now has to remember where various cards are hidden. When you’ve got 40 hidden cards to peek at, it can take a long time to find that first 7…and by the time you get there, you may have forgotten where the 14 was! The more players you have, the harder it is to play this way. If you’re playing with just one or two players, though, this is a great way to play the game.

So that’s it. Once you’ve got all your sets ready, it’s time for the fun part – the hiding! Treasure Hunt is written to be an indoor game, but it’s fantastic played outdoors. However, if you do choose to play it outside, be smart about where you hide the cards! It goes without saying that this is not a game for a wet or windy day. But even if it’s not windy, try to tuck the cards into snug little places where a breeze won’t send them floating away. And don’t forget where you’ve hidden the cards. The last thing you want is to be fully finished the game except for the 63…and have no idea where you put it. For that reason, I limited our gameplay to a few specific areas on our property (play structure, fire pit, and porch). I only own one set of multiplication cards, so I don’t have any margin for losing cards in our yard!

Make sure you place your cards face-down, and make sure that they are all in places that even the shortest player can easily access. Here are a few of the hiding places I found:

Once all your cards are hidden, it’s time to let loose the hounds!

“I think this one is mine…is it?”

If someone finds a card that isn’t part of her set, she is supposed to quietly replace it. But towards the end of the game I did allow a little bit of “helping” because my fast finishers were eager to assist their siblings.

As your children play, they may realize that some of them need the same card.

“Mommy, I found a 10, but Autumn needs one, too!”

That’s a great discovery to make – that some multiples sets share the same numbers. In coming years she’ll learn about common factors; we’re laying that groundwork today!

If your children are gathering their cards non-consecutively, eventually they may get to a point where they think they have all their cards but they aren’t sure. At this time, it’s good to ask them lay out what they’ve got according to the skip counting pattern on their envelope, and thus see if there’s anything missing. You could even have them read aloud their cards in order. These practices help them think about their set as a group and not as a random collection of numbers, and you’re reinforcing the multiples patterns too.

“I thought I was done, but it looks like I still need a 14…”

Once everyone has collected every card in their set, the game is over. That means that this blog post is over, too…but it’s not the end of the summer yet…stay tuned for more games coming soon!



  1. This is fantastic! I think I just found a back to school activity!! I haven’t been reading your summer game blog posts, but now I think I’m going to have to. Thanks!!!

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