Treasure Hunt

Treasure Hunt is a super fun, mathy game inspired by two other very cool games. The first is called Battleship! It’s a game played on a map grid with numbers on one side and letters on the other. It’s super fun and it’s been around for a long time, but you can still buy it.

Original battleshipI really like the original Battleship game because it’s clever, uses strategy and it makes a great connection between the coordinate plane (or Cartesian plane) of mathematics and a map grid used in geography or social studies. The idea is to “hide” your ships on the map grid. Your opponent calls out coordinate points in an attempt to locate or “sink” your ships. It’s surprising how difficult it can be to locate ships on such a small ocean. Just imagine how hard it was for navy ships to find their enemies before the days of sonar or satellite navigation!

There’s another fun game I found once in a book called Family Math. It’s called Jungle Crossing and it uses a similar grid idea, although it’s much more simple. Jungle Crossing is a great game for introducing young children to an important idea of the coordinate plane: that items can be located by naming a crossing point of two lines. In the case of this game, you’re trying to get your animals across the “plane” to the other side before your opponent can get his or her animals across. Different game, similar principle.

The Math Fairy wants to show you how you can either introduce the coordinate plane to younger students or students who’ve not seen a plane in Treasure Hunt I or how you can expand upon a basic understanding of the coordinate plane by using all four Quadrants in Treasure Hunt II. Both are a fun spin-off of Batttleship and both offer endless opportunities for creativity. You can hide anything! You could hide treasure, as you’ll see here, or animals or candy or monsters. Have fun and get creative making your own version of Treasure Hunt!

What you need to play:

Grid paper: either one inch (for Treasure Hunt I ) or centimeter or 4 square per inch graph paper (for Treasure Hunt II)

Colored pencils and regular pencils

Tiny stickers, if you have them, to use for the hidden objects.

How to play:

image002 First, draw either just quadrant I on four pieces of paper (for Treasure Hunt I)

like this:




image003or draw full, four  quadrant coordinate planes (for Treasure Hunt II) like this:





Next, set up a privacy screen so that your opponent cannot see your board.

Now, hide some stuff! For Treasure Hunt I  the Math Fairy suggests that each player hide one tiny treasure, one medium sized treasure and one large treasure. A tiny treasure will be one dot, medium will be two or three dots and large could be 4 or 5 dots. Make sure that both players understand that they must “hide” their treasure on crossing points of lines, not in the space between lines. Also treasures must go in a line, horizontally, vertically or diagonally.

You can see for the larger grid that you can hide more treasure and you have a much bigger area to work with. It’s harder!

Treasure Hunt II  is only different because the board is bigger and you can hide more treasures! Here’s what a board could look like with hidden treasure (you can see why little stickers would be fun!):

You can see one tiny treasure, one medium and one large. Don’t let your opponent see where you’ve hidden your treasures!




Take turns calling out coordinates, such as“2,3”.

On the coordinate or Cartesian plane the horizontal line is “x” and the first number in your directions or coordinate point is always the “x” direction. It tells you to go left or right. On the coordinate plane the vertical line is called “y” and the second number in your directions or coordinate point is always the “y” direction. It tells you to go up or down. It’s like this: (x, y) = (right or left, and then up or down).

Remember, a “coordinate point” gives the location on the plane. If I say, “2,3” I am telling you to start in the middle (at 0,0) and go right 2 and then up 3. What if I said, “4, 1”? Where would you go?

You’re right! You would start in the middle (at 0,0) and go right 4, and then up 1. What if we were playing Treasure Hunt II and I said, “- 4,  3”? Once again, you’re right! Since the 4 is negative you would start in the middle (at 0,0) and go left 4 and then up 3. A negative 3 in this case would mean going down 3. Always start in the middle!

Your opponent will reply, as in Battleship, with “hit” or “miss” (or you could say “yes” or “no” or make up something fun!) You should keep track with your pencil on a separate game board of what you’ve called and gotten. I like to put an open circle on a point if it’s a miss and an x if it’s a hit. By keeping track on a separate game board I don’t run the risk of wasting time calling a point more than once. Once you’ve located all the points in a hidden treasure, your opponent will say “Treasure found!” and then you keep playing.

The first player to find all of their opponent’s hidden treasures is the winner!

Happy treasure hunting and remember

Have fun with math every day!