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Details, Details

This is a simple, effective and fun generic treasure hunt game that can be done anywhere to increase students' powers of observation and description. Depending on your goals students can either draw or write their descriptions. It also "self-adjusts" to any age-group third grade or older.

Use Details, Details on a nature walk or to teach about architecture in your school or on a neighborhood walking tour. On a field trip it ensures that students really are paying attention, honing their skills, and learning something!

Photo of girl drawing on house stoop

  • 8.5 x 11 drawing paper, folded in quarters.
  • Pencils
  • Hard, portable drawing surface (a large textbook works well)


bullet Define an area for the treasure hunt--for example, two blocks of one street, one large hallway, or the exterior of one large building.


bullet Choose an area as "base."

bullet Pair students with a partner and give them these directions:

  1. Start at "base." Split up, each of the partners going in a different direction around the treasure hunt area. Return to base in ten minutes.

  2. Look carefully at the architectural details in the area. Find two details in different locations. "Blow up" each detail (pretend you are using a camera's zoom lens) and draw it large enough to fill one quarter of the drawing paper (two of the quarters will stay blank). Remember what and where the details are.

  3. Return to base at the end of ten minutes. Switch papers with your partner.

  4. Browse around the area again, this time looking for the three details your partner drew. When you think you have found both details, write what they are and their location in the empty quarters beside the drawings. (What is it? Where is it?)

  5. Return to base and check your answers with your partner. If you guessed right, congratulate yourself and your partner for good observation and drawing skills.

Photo of kids and teacher on neighborhood walking tour

Photos and drawings: Pittsburgh History & Landmarks

Drawing of bridge detail

Drawing of gas lamppost

Drawing of top of Nicholas Coffee Building

Drawing under bridge where pier meets deck

Drawing of urn on pedestal


Source: Adapted from material copyrighted in 1990 by Susan Donley. Used by permission.

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