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Teamwork Building Activity for Special Education Classes: Let's Hunt for Treasure!

written by: Anne Vize • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 1/5/2012

A treasure hunt is a great way to get students using their communication and teamwork skills, as well as problem solving strategies. Treasure hunts are fun activities to build teamwork in a classroom environment, or as an ice breaker activity at the start of a group with mixed ability students.

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    How to Hunt for Treasure

    Remember that activities to build teamwork in a classroom environment need to be done with a clear curriculum goal in mind, although this can be different for different students, depending on the requirements of their IEP's.

    Give students a list of items to search for in their treasure hunt. These can include a combination of fixed items (which have to be ticked off when they have been found) and ‘bring back’ items (such as a leaf, a hair comb or an elastic band). Here is a sample list of treasures to try:

    Bring back these treasures!

    1. A green leaf.
    2. An elastic band.
    3. A red pen.
    4. A piece of lined paper.
    5. An envelope.
    6. A calculator.
    7. A student timetable for someone in a year level other than your own.
    8. A shoelace.
    9. An empty drink bottle.
    10. A banana skin.
    11. A small stick.
    12. The number 7.
    13. Something with this year’s date on it.
    14. Something with this month’s name on it.
    15. Something to do with the name of today.

    Tick off these treasures when you have found them!

    1. A red building.
    2. The number 5.
    3. The letter D.
    4. A teacher wearing blue.
    5. A student wearing green.

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    Planning a Treasure Hunt Based on Individual Needs

    Treasure hunts should be structured to suit the needs and abilities of your student group. For example, if you have students with physical disabilities, ensure your treasure hunt is planned using flat surfaces, and that you check the area for safety and ease of access. For students with visual impairments, the treasure hunt area may need to be fairly small, and again check for any dangers or tripping hazards. For students with hearing impairments, set up a ‘call back’ system which means you are always in control of your group and able to call them back to you or to the classroom when you need to.

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    Why This Works Well With Special Needs Learners

    Treasure hunts are a great activity for a number of reasons:

    They cater to kinesthetic, hands on and visual learning styles, and so are terrific for students who have a need to ‘get out’ of the classroom on a regular basis.

    They work well with a mixed ability learning group, as learners with different skills can be combined effectively with others to complete the tasks.

    Students are focused on working toward a common goal, and so are naturally using their teamwork skills – this can be enhanced by using rules such as ‘each student in the group must bring back at least one treasure’ or ‘there is a bonus prize for the group which is seen to work together the best’.

    They are a fun and interesting task, and one which students usually are very willing to participate in.

    The treasure hunt time frame needed can be expanded or contracted to suit the time available, simply by changing the number and difficulty of the treasures to be found.

    There are lots of other activities to build teamwork in a classroom environment.Try this article on teamwork games for more information.