The Perfect Pre-School Treasure Hunt 'The Bottle of Treasure'

As part of our '15 Games to Entertain Kids on Long Car Journeys' series to help you survive an upcoming trip in one piece, we tried out the fantastic treasure hunt in a bottle game for pre-school children. This isn't just a travel game but is also a fantastic thing to do at home.

In a nutshell:

Fill an empty plastic bottle with sand or rice and a number of items, letters or anything else you want to base a treasure hunt around. Different challenges can be set for hours of entertainment.

This will stop you getting asked "are we nearly there yet?" for...

Anything from 5 minutes to 5 hours! This can be picked up and put down again with different challenges being set. This isn’t just great for car journeys, any time you want to keep a little one entertained ‘The Bottle of Treasure’ will come in handy.

LOL factor:

Low – less giggles, more concentration and excitement when things are found!

Required Mensa levels

This is really easy. Even a one year old will enjoy looking at the different items. Perfect age would be 3-6 years.

Entertain 4 Year Old - Treasure in a Bottle - perfect game for pre-school kids


First you need to construct your ‘Bottle of Treasure’ (which in itself is a lot of fun!) Half-fill a large dry and empty clear plastic bottle with colourful sand or rice. Drop in about 10 to 20 small but identifiable objects like buttons, paper clips, etc. into the bottle (make sure you create a list of everything you put in). Top up the bottle with more sand or rice then secure the lid with tape and shake the bottle until the objects are well dispersed throughout the sand or rice. When you need some peace and quiet, give the ‘Bottle of Treasure’ to your children and challenge them to find all the hidden objects by shaking and shifting the sand around in the bottle.

Tips and variants:

  • Set the parameters of the challenge by either asking them to find and name all of the items in the bottle or give them the list of items, with one red herring added, and ask them to tell you which one is not in the bottle.
  • You could also play I-Spy with the bottle and challenge them to find certain items beginning with a particular letter.
  • Instead of objects, put letters into the bottle and challenge them to find the letters in order spell out their name (or the destination of your journey).

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