Treasure Hunt Fun for Middle Schoolers

Thanks to our sponsor, Penguin Random House for this fantastic, fun idea!

If your middle school student loves the Mr. Lemoncello series from Chris Grabenstein, we’ve got great news for you! Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics is coming in paperback this April (Random Random House Publishing)!. The book deals with the serious subject of censorship in the lighthearted and quirky way we’ve come to know and love from Chris. Best of all, it features games and puzzles so that readers can solve the mystery along with the intrepid Lemoncello gang!

Treasure Hunt Fun for Middle Schoolers!

One way to help kids better engage with enjoy books is to play interactive games that reinforce the messages, while adding in some socialization and just a whiff of competitiveness. Toward that end, here’s a great framework for a Lemoncello-inspired Treasure Hunt!
Decide on your location. Although the library would make an ideal location for a hunt associated with this book, the reality is that a group of middle schoolers might not be the most—ahem—QUIET group of hunters and the last thing you want to have to do is keep shushing everyone. Choose a park or playground (if the weather is sunny) or simply stage the hunt in your own house. OR, if anticipating a school visit from the noted author himself, stage the hunt around the school!
Make a map of the area included in the hunt. This way, the kids have an idea of the boundaries of the search. Have them fill in the map as they go from clue to clue. First team to turn in a completed map wins a prize!
Create your clues. Assemble a selection of books that have been banned over the years (The Diary of Anne Frank, Moby Dick, The Red Badge of Courage, The Scarlet Letter, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird, Are You There God It’s Me Margaret, 1984, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, The Call of the Wild, etc.) and then create a puzzle associated with each one’s location within your house, park or school.

Treasure Hunt Printables

For example, if you are hiding a book with a clue inside in the dryer in the laundry room, take a photo of the dryer, affix it to light cardboard and then cut it into puzzle pieces. The team will have to assemble to picture in order to know where to find the next clue. Make sure the team takes the puzzle apart and leaves it for the next team.

Use word scrambles, secret codes, mirror writing, or clues in verses (“You’re probably thinking, “What the heck?!” but you might want to check out on the DECK!”) Since Mr. Limoncello is the master of games, any kind of game or puzzle will fit the theme.


(Pro tip:  It’s often useful to work backwards from the finish line when designing a treasure hunt.)
Assemble your treasure! At the finish line, have goody bags with a copy of the book and a flashlight in each. Serve refreshments to the kids as they wait for all of the teams to arrive and then give out a series of very silly awards for the team that arrived first, the one with the best map, the team that got hopelessly lost or distracted, etc. It’s all in good fun.
Afterward, allow the kids to run off their extra energy by staging a Library Olympics!
This treasure hunt can be adapted for birthday parties or can be coupled with educational lessons (kids have to solve math problems to get the next clue, or identify a specific type of tree or flower.)

Ready for fun? Order you copies of Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics here!

Looking for more great tips on reading, check out our Book Report Survival Guide for Busy Parents!