Old – “Ancient” Treasure Maps & Treasure Hunt (Weekly Unplugged Project)

By , June 22, 2008 10:48 pm


The theme for this week’s Unplugged Project is “old.” It was a hard choice for me since I thought of many fun options, but…

My now 6 year-old son has always been somewhat obsessed with maps. Since, at the moment, he really enjoys drawing “treasure maps,” I ultimately decided that he might enjoy making a treasure map that really looked old.

When I was a child, in art class once we antiqued cards by burning the edges with a candle, gluing them onto wood, and then coating them with shellac to make them look yellowed and ancient. For some reason I LOVED this project. In fact I loved it enough to remember it to this day, and trust me, it was quite a while ago!

Well, I didn’t have any shellac on hand, but I have heard that similar results can be obtained with coffee or tea. So, we gave it a go. I followed the basic instructions for How to Antique Paper from Curbly blogger, DIY Maven. We then embellished a bit. Here’s what we did:


We needed brewed coffee or tea, instant coffee granules, a Sharpie (permanent marker), some plain white paper (I used computer printer paper), a baking sheet with a rim, some paper towels, and an oven:

First we drew our maps with the Sharpie. The kids loved this of course, and each made several:

Then we crumpled the maps and flattened them out again to create wrinkles:

Next came the really fun part. We laid the maps side by side on the rimmed baking sheets and poured coffee on them. You don’t need much, a cup probably would have sufficed. I don’t know what I was thinking when I made a whole 4 cup Pyrex jug full! Too bad instant coffee is too disgusting to drink or I could have a few cups while we worked.

We poured on a little (don’t flood it) and then smeared it around with a paint brush to completely cover the paper without drowning it too much:

The coffee is what stains the paper that yellow-brown tone. If you want “age spots” then sprinkle on some instant coffee granules and let them dissolve a bit:

Once the granules have dissolved a little, blot up all the excess liquid on the paper and the baking sheet with some paper towels. Tip – blotting with a dabbing motion seemed to work better than wiping:

Here they are before going into the oven. The oven dries them off quickly and gives them a slightly parched, brittle, old texture:

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees (93 Celsius – “low heat”) and put the baking sheet in the oven. It took about 5 minutes or so for ours to dry out. Keep an eye on it. When the edges start to curl up a bit, it is probably done.

They will come out looking hundreds of years old! But, if that’s not enough for you, you can take it a step further and burn the edges too. Obviously, this is an activity for adults only.

Light a candle and place it in the kitchen sink. The dry paper burns very well, so you’ll want water right there. You can also just drop the paper into the sink if the flame spreads too quickly. I was a bit overly-enthusiastic on my first go and burned a few apparently crucial areas of one of my daughter’s maps (sorry!):

I eventually got the hang of it and was able to produce just a lightly ragged burned effect instead of giant, blackened blotches.

Tip – gently slide the edge of the paper back and forth through the flame. Keep it moving and try not to really let it actually catch on fire. After a few passes through the flame, take it out. The edge will be glowing. Put the edge under some running water to extinguish the glow. Afterwards you can let the paper dry on its own, or if you are impatient as we were, then simply pop it back into the oven for a few more minutes to dry off.

Our finished maps:

The final touch was rolling them up and tying them with string:


While we were making the maps, my daughter asked if I would make a “real” treasure map for them, and then hide some treasure somewhere for them to find using the map.

I thought that sounded fun, so I did.

The map is revealed (they hadn’t looked at it while I was making it):

After a false start in the wrong location (perhaps Mom is a poor map draftsman?), they finally got their bearings and were hot on the trail of the pirate treasure:

And the treasure is finally found!

We had a great time on the treasure hunt and surprisingly, it actually taught some map-reading skills!

The treasure hunt is a fun activity to try anytime. It only takes a minute or two to draw a map and hide the “treasure.” You don’t have to get fancy and “antique” your map unless you want to.


We had a lot of fun this week. This project was easy enough for them to do on their own (apart from the burning of course), and we all enjoyed it

What did you do for old? If you joined in this week’s Unplugged Project, please put a link to your project in Mr. Linky. Also leave a comment so your project link will be forever immortalized should Mr. Linky fail, as he does from time to time.

If you didn’t join us, please think about trying to next week. You can read all about how the Unplugged Project works here.


In honor of summer (here in the Northern Hemisphere anyway), the theme for next week’s Unplugged Project will be:


Please note that I did not say “garden-ing” (although that would be a fine project to share). It could involve pictures of gardens, something to do with plants, seeds, bugs, colors, dirt, butterflies … anything! Be creative, I look forward to being inspired by you all!

21 Responses to “Old – “Ancient” Treasure Maps & Treasure Hunt (Weekly Unplugged Project)”

  1. Tina says:

    Very Cool! So much fun. My teens do treasure hunts with their youth group. They also play this clue game. I think treasure maps are timeless.

    Tinas last blog post..Unplugged "Old"

  2. Heather says:

    What a cool project. I am definetly going to have to remember this for the future.

    Heathers last blog post..

  3. Candy Cook says:

    That’s great. I love the idea. Looks like they had a good time hunting treasure.

    Candy Cooks last blog post..How to whistle loudly

  4. warillever says:

    My kids (ages 1, 3, 3 and 6) aren’t quite ready for a project that requires delayed gratification like this. I bet they’d love it in a year or so, though.

    I “cheated” with this theme and posted an “old” project which I had failed to blog about.

    warillevers last blog post..Snowflake Flowers

  5. kari says:

    a busy week, with little craftiness, but a bit of nostalgia.

    karis last blog post..Unplugged old

  6. Kate in NJ says:

    My P is going to LOVE this!
    We will try it later in the week for sure!!
    We are in with our own bit of old…funny,
    I didn’t remember this week’s theme,
    but we love our “old” around here. ;-)

    Kate in NJs last blog post..This week around this little Garden State Homeschool..

  7. […] 23, 2008 in Kids Crafts This week’s Unplug your kids challenge was “old“. We thought of all the songs we knew that had the word “old” in them, and came […]

  8. Excellent choice! I too did something similar as a child and it had the same dramatic impression. I’ve done a treasure hunt with Jaylene using clues instead of a map. I had to “ruin” the fun at one point because she truly believed me when I said a pirate had stopped by with a clue to some treasure for her.

    Julie K in Taiwans last blog post..There was an old woman…

  9. I love this project. I might adapt it for my Harry Potter-loving kids. Maybe “marauder’s maps” or maps of Hogwarts. Thanks for the idea!

    threeundertwos last blog post..Meme-ing

  10. Kayris says:

    How creative! I love it! makes my fashion show with vintage clothing seem to boring!

    I’m looking forward to the garden challenge!

    Kayriss last blog post..Unplugged: Project Runway

  11. My boys would love to make your maps! Next week’s theme should be easy for us since we planted a garden but maybe I can use it as an excuse to go buy some perennials!

    Heather & Johns last blog post..Unplugged Project: OLD sculpey clay

  12. Christy says:

    Oh, the treasure hunt looks fun! Think I’ll tuck this idea away for the next time DS has a friend over.

    Christys last blog post..Weekly Unplugged Project – "Old"

  13. Kendra says:

    What a fun idea! TFS

  14. Claire says:

    That looks like a really fun project. I’ve put it on our ‘to do’ list.

    Claires last blog post..Best made plans

  15. Dana says:

    We just completed our first projects and posted about it. Thanks for these great challenges!!!

    Danas last blog post..Unplug Your Kids: OLD

  16. kristen says:

    Nice maps!! We used “OLD” buttons.

  17. I would love to try this! I have a 14 year old who is still very much into imaginative play and pirates and all. He would love this. I’d love to blog about this on my blog too, if you wouldn’t mind.


  18. Krista says:

    What a fun idea. I had a great time setting up and photographing our garden project!!

    Kristas last blog post..Unplug Your kids – Garden

  19. […] Make a treasure map and go on a hunt see link […]

  20. […] Your Kids has written a step-by-step photo tutorial on how to make these “ancient” treasure maps. SHARE THIS POSTClose this Window Bookmark and Share This Page Save to Browser Favorites / […]

  21. […] переклаз із unplugyourkids. Фото зліва – nicora. Всі інші фото з сайту […]

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