A favorite summer game at my house as a kid was following a Trail of clues that my Mom had set up in our farmyard. It always led to a reward of some kind at the end...a little treat hidden up in a tree or a snack all ready in the house for hungry trail-hunters.
I set up a trail for my kids to follow, and they loved the challenge of finding the camouflaged clues...they had to look carefully to notice the rocks, sticks, and other signs that marked their Trail. I placed small stones in the shape of an arrow, then hid a paper clue under one stone with the words “10 steps” under it. Following the direction of the arrow 10 steps brought them near a tree where there was another paper clue hidden under a rock. It said “Look Up.” Tucked up in a notch of the tree was another clue with a picture of our Mailbox...and so on.
Because my kids are young and my oldest is just starting to read, I used easy directions on my clues... some simply had a picture of a landmark in our yard. For older children, you could write riddles or nursery rhymes that they must decipher: Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your GARDEN grow? and Humpty Dumpty sat on a WALL.
Or choose a favorite book and make up clues to go along: Alice in Wonderland could prompt a trail to A Looking Glass (a car side mirror), a Cheshire Cat (pet cat with clue on collar), Croquet (ball or wicket in yard), Mad Hatter (hang a hat in branch of a tree), etc.
Some ways to hide clues:
~pierce a paper clue on the end of a stick that's pushed into the groundNever mind the muggy day...my kids were enthralled and raced around the yard in pursuit of the next clue.
~hide clue under a pile of pinecones or leaves
~bury a clue under the dirt a little (protected in a plastic bag) and mark the spot with a rock or brick
~arrange pinecones or rocks in shape of a number, letter, or object
~make a series of shapes out of various objects (leaves, dandelions, sticks) that can each be seen from the previous clue.
The treasure at the end was fun, but I think they liked the thrill of the hunt even more than the prize!