Digging for Treasure Activities for Toddlers

I don’t know about you but I am so ready for the cold weather to just go away! This has been a particularly cold winter in Maryland and we are ready to make time to play outside. This Spring I really want to grow things with Sweet Pea– plant flowers, grow vegetables in a container garden, create a fairy garden. To prepare for our first gardening experiences, I came up with this simple Digging for Treasure activity as part of my activities for toddlers blog series. Also, I teamed with 30 other fantastic Mom bloggers to create the Outdoor Play Challenge. If you want more excellent ideas for spending time outdoors with your kids, check out the comprehensive list of activities on Building Blocks and Acorns and download the free printable calendar which includes all of the ideas!

Digging for Treasure Activities for Toddlers

Digging for Treasures Activities for Toddlers

This activity is ridiculously easy and doesn’t require a lot of space. Even if you don’t have a yard, you could easily prep this activity and do it just about anywhere.

What you will need:

  • medium-sized plastic container with a lid. I used a cheap Rubbermaid container.
  • 1 bag of potting soil
  • Digging implements– You can buy kid’s gardening tools just about anywhere. Ultimately, you really just need a shovel, but your toddler would have a blast with the trowel, spade, and rake.
  • A bucket to hold and rinse off your treasure.
  • Treasure: the sky is the limit with the treasure. I tried to pick items that could easily be rinsed off and/or would not be too worse for the wear if buried in dirt. Sweet Pea’s treasure consisted of mini tubes of bubbles, plastic dinosaurs, acorns and honeycombs, and a few other small plastic animals that were not being played with.

Digging for Treasures Activities for Toddlers

 How do you do it?

  • To prep the ‘Digging for Treasures’ box, just dump the potting soil into the plastic container. Then, throw the treasure in and bury it in the soil. I tried to make sure a number of the treasures were only half buried so that Sweet Pea would figure out the point of the activity.
  • Go outside, take the top off the dirt/treasure container and let your toddler dig!
  • You can do this in the yard, in a park, on the driveway, or wherever else you think would be a good place. Tip: If you don’t want potting soil on the sidewalk or your front porch, I might suggest ‘teaching’ your toddler to either dump the soil back into the container, or onto a grassy area.
  • As your treasure hunter scoops up her booty, they can dump it into the bucket.
  • Eventually, you will want to rinse the dirt off the treasure and either set it aside.. or throw it back into the soil for more digging fun!

Digging for Treasures Activities for Toddlers

 How did it go?

Sweet Pea had a blast! Sure, she loved finding the treasure. However, I have to say her favorite part of this activity was just digging and playing with the dirt. She loved scooping up a shovel-full of dirt and ‘depositing’ it on the lawn. Our backyard was still super muddy so we opted to enjoy the warmth of the afternoon sun and dig in the front of the house.

When it was time to go back inside, Sweet Pea threw her gardening tools and found treasure back inside the container and within 5 minutes the entire activity was cleaned up. Sweet! And, to illustrate the idea that sometimes the simple ideas are the biggest winners… since doing this activity about a week ago, Sweet Pea has asked at least four times to repeat it. Not bad for an outdoor activity that took less than 5 minutes to put together!

Digging for Treasures Activities for Toddlers

So, take a few minutes and make your own ‘Digging for Treasure’ box. While you are at it, check out the other Outdoor Play Challenge ideas and get outside!

Thank you for reading!


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  1. I like that it was contained! I’m all for natural play, but sometimes I let the mess be a very limiting factor.

  2. Pingback: Outdoor Play Challenge | Building Blocks and Acorns