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Finding Captain Hook's Treasure

Teacher Lesson


  • Social Sciences: Geography


K-2, 3-5

Brief Description

Students will be motivated to use their map-reading skills to find Captain Hook's treasure.


Students will understand

  • how the directions on a map correspond with "real-life" directions,
  • that symbols on a map represent real things.


map, Peter Pan, Captain Hook, treasure, hunt, compass, directions, geography

Materials Needed

  • treasure, such as coin candy, enough for the class
  • a box that locks with one key
  • keys, including the one for the box, in small envelopes (have enough keys for each pair of students)
  • a treasure map of the school playground for each pair of students
  • a note from Captain Hook, prepared in advance by the teacher (optional)
  • a copy of the book Peter Pan (optional)
  • a large compass rose made from poster board

Lesson Plan

Prior to the Lesson
  • Hide the keys and the treasure chest around the playground.
  • Create and duplicate a map that shows the locations of the keys. Mark the location of the treasure chest with an X. Include landmarks (such as swings, a tree) and a compass rose on the map.
  • Write a note from Captain Hook in which he explains that he has hidden a treasure chest and keys on the playground, but only one of the keys will open the box. Students are to use a treasure map to locate the keys and the treasure.
  • Tape the note to the last page of the book Peter Pan.
Note: This activity is a great way to reinforce map-reading skills and can be done without reading the book. Announce that you have found a mysterious letter and that the class is about to embark on a treasure hunt.

Begin the Lesson

  • Read aloud the book Peter Pan. As you finish reading the book, you find a note taped to its last page. Read the note to the class.
  • Group students into pairs, and give each pair a map of the playground. Explain that each pair of students will be responsible for finding an assigned key.
  • Discuss with students how directions (north, south, east, and west) are indicated on a map by finding the compass rose on the treasure map. You might instruct students to raise on their tiptoes while saying north, squat while saying south, move to the right while saying east, and move to the left while saying west.

    For older students, reinforce intermediate points on the compass -- northwest or southeast, for example.
  • Take students outside and establish where north is on the playground. Help students determine where the large compass rose should be situated in order to match the directions on the students' maps.
  • Have each pair of students take turns leading the class to the assigned key. Before each pair begins leading, the students must explain how they will get to the key. They must say in which direction(s) they will go (north, south, east, or west) and point in that direction. They should use landmarks identified on the map to help them find their key.
    Students are very excited at this point, and discipline is important; students should stay in a double-file line with their partners as the lead pair locates its assigned key. Once the pair finds the key, those students should go to the end of the line.
  • After all pairs have found their keys, the class can decide which direction to go in to locate the treasure chest.
  • Return to the classroom with the treasure and the keys. Students take turns trying their key in the lock. When a key opens the box, everyone cheers and the treasure is divided equally among the class members.
  • Review the activity by having students write or tell how they found the keys and the treasure using north, south, east, and west.


Observe students' ability to understand the map and directions during the activity and as they write or tell the steps taken to find the keys and treasure.

Submitted By

Krista Weiss, Gettysburg Elementary, Gettysburg, Ohio


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