How to Have a Rainbow Treasure Hunt With Your Kids: St. Patrick’s Day Style

Do your kids spend way too much time in front of the TV and not enough time in active play?

Looking for a fun and active way to commemorate St. Patrick’s Day?

Head outside for a colorful springtime adventure with a St. Patrick’s Day twist.

In this article, I’ll show you how to create a rainbow treasure hunt that kids of all ages will enjoy for St. Patrick’s Day or any day.

After all, who wouldn’t want to find a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow?

Head outside for a colorful springtime adventure and create a rainbow treasure hunt that kids of all ages will enjoy for St. Patrick's Day or any day.

Why a Rainbow Treasure Hunt?

A rainbow treasure hunt is the perfect way to get into the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day.

The leprechaun is a primary symbol of the March 17th holiday. Tradition tells us that these fairies, dressed all in green, hide their pots of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Leprechauns enjoy mischief and are difficult to catch because they’re always one step ahead. And if you catch a leprechaun, he will give you his pot of gold or grant you three wishes in exchange for his release.

What better way to celebrate springtime than to send your kids on a search through the rainbow for a leprechaun and his pot of gold?

A treasure hunt is a great activity for kids of all ages and is popular with boys and girls alike. They get a chance to run around and work as a team. Plus, you can choose the hiding places depending on their age, size and ability.


To get into the St. Patrick’s Day spirit, check out this song, written and performed by a 7-year-old.

A rainbow treasure hunt has the easiest clues ever! They are colors you find outdoors.

Choose your venue with care. The more variation in surrounding colors and environment, the better the hunt and the more fun it will be for all.

You Will Need

  • A printout of a rainbow or sheet of white paper
  • Crayons or markers
  • Pen
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Treasure: something to use as your treasure pot and chocolate gold coins to put inside
  • Additional St. Patrick’s Day–themed printouts: leprechaun, pot of gold and/or shamrock (optional)

Preparation Time

15+ minutes

Activity Time

15+ minutes, depending on how good you are at hiding clues and how good your kids are at finding them

Location

Your home or backyard

Be sure to select a site for your game that has a wide variety of colors of the rainbow. It may be near a flower garden or a park with brightly colored play equipment. Or hold an indoor treasure hunt among the colorful items around your house.

yellow ball clue

For this treasure hunt, clues are hidden near things of the same color. See if your family can find them all in the search for the leprechaun’s pot o’ gold.

Got a good spot? Let’s get started!

#1: Hide the Treasure

Before you do anything else, get the treasure ready! For the pot, you can use a decorative box, a basket or small Halloween cauldron as your “pot o’ gold” and fill it with chocolate coins, cookies or some other treat.

pot of gold in tree

A Halloween cauldron makes a perfect pot o’ gold for St. Patrick’s Day. Be sure to hide it well so kids don’t discover it during the color treasure hunt.

Hide the treasure in a place the kids won’t discover during the hunt for rainbow colors. Perhaps you can hide it in the front yard and place the color clues in the backyard or hide the treasure in a different part of the park.

For a little added fun, tape a picture of a leprechaun nearby to watch over his treasure.

Make note of your hiding place and think of a clue that will guide children to find it.

#2: Color Your Rainbow

Print out a picture of a rainbow (PDF) like this one from First Palette. Or draw your own on a sheet of white paper, making sure to create a stripe for each color that’s wide enough to cut out and search for.

red paper clue

The stripes your kids color will be hidden near similar colors like these flowers during the treasure hunt.

Next, have your child color the rainbow, using markers or crayons. Remember, one color per line: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo (dark blue) and violet (purple). If you have more than one child, print a rainbow for each. You can even color in one yourself.

rainbow

Color in the rainbow with crayons, markers or paint.

Choose one of the colored rainbows. Now, secretly write a clue leading to the location of the treasure on the back.

clue on ribbon

Write a clue on the back of the rainbow. Make sure you write it dark enough for the kids to read it.

The clue can be a riddle or puzzle, or something more obvious, depending on the ages and abilities of your kids.

color strips

Cut up the rainbow into color strips once you have written the big final clue on its back.

Next, cut the rainbow into individual strips of color. If you have lots of colorful hiding places or several kids hunting, cut the colored strips into several small pieces. With fewer kids or places to hide, cut fewer pieces or leave the strips whole and just fold them up. You’ll need a hiding place of matching color for each piece.

Keep track of how many pieces you cut so you can tell the kids.

#3: Hide the Color Clues

Find colorful places to hide your clues.

orange clue

A low-hanging orange tree is the perfect place for the orange strip, if you have an orange tree.

The backyard or a nearby park is ideal, since there’s more space and it’s a good opportunity to get your kids out into the fresh air. But if the weather isn’t cooperating or nothing colorful is in bloom yet, an indoor hunt can be just as fun.

Hint: Plan where to hide the clues before you start the project. That way, you can hide them quickly and your kids are less likely to get impatient.

While you hide the clues… Make sure the kids are distracted. If they sneak a peek, it’ll spoil the fun.

Have an older child or another adult watch the younger kids in a room or space away from the hunting area.

Keep your kids in the St. Patrick’s Day spirit with some coloring pages to work on:

You could also have them color on plain white paper. They can draw in the St. Patrick’s Day theme or just draw things that are green.

Since it’s a rainbow treasure hunt, you want to hide each color clue on an item of the same color. Space things out and try to camouflage each color with its surroundings.

yellow clue on watering can

Put the yellow strip on a yellow watering can and the green strip in blades of grass.

You may need to use tape or string to attach clues to some places.

pieces of colored yarn

Some clues may need to be tied onto their hiding places. We used colored yarn, but plain string works just fine.

Also think about the height of your treasure hunters. You want the strips of the rainbow hidden, but not impossible to find.

Once all the clues are hidden, it’s time for the treasure hunt!

#4: Start the Rainbow Treasure Hunt

Ask your kids to search for the rainbow-colored strips of paper, each one camouflaged against an item of a similar color.

Remind them how many clues were hidden and what colors to look for: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.

finding green clue in tree

The piece in the green leaves—or perhaps inside in a houseplant—should be relatively easy to find.

Note: Make sure the kids know the parameters of the hunt, especially if you are in a public park, so no one goes wandering off.

Remind your kids to work together to find all of the pieces of the rainbow. If you just have one little one, accompany him or her on the hunt. Observe, but don’t reveal what you know. Half the fun is watching them discover it all.

finding violet color

The violet color was well-camouflaged next to this flower.

Maybe park yourself somewhere in the center of the hunt, armed with your camera and a well-earned cup of coffee.

#5: Piece Together the Rainbow and Find the Pot o’ Gold

Once they gather all of the pieces, ask the kids to reassemble the rainbow like a puzzle. Then tape the pieces together, turn it over and find the location of the pot of gold.

child finding pot of gold treasure

Success! After putting together the clues, she found the treasure.

Stand back and watch them race to find the treasure!

Some Final Thoughts

I hope your family has found that there is truth to the St. Patrick’s Day myth: There really is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!

The rainbow treasure hunt is a great tool to teach kids about color and the importance of looking at their surroundings, while giving them a unique way to celebrate St Patrick’s Day!

What do you think? Will you make this rainbow treasure hunt part of your St. Patrick’s Day family tradition? What other fun ways are you celebrating the holiday? Share your experience and pictures in the comments.

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About the Author, Helen Ashley

“A mum that can draw’, Sydney based artist and designer Helen Ashley has turned her love of color and creative parenting into a business. Other posts by »


  • http://www.familylifeuniversity.org/ Eric Dingler

    Very creative and fun idea.

  • http://www.mykidsadventures.com/ Jennifer Ballard

    Thanks, Helen! I like that the “clues” are just colors. It’s purely visual–a great sensory exercise.

  • Colourmeart Helen

    This idea can be used in any language. Color or Colour ( as we write it down under!) is like music. It doesn’t need words.

  • Colourmeart Helen

    Thanks Eric.

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