Treasure Map Story


Writing and planning a story can be daunting. This session involves making a treasure map and then using it as an outline for a story. The map provides settings, a way to plot the story and prompts for key events. There is flexibility to vary the amount of writing depending on the children you are working with. They can just talk about their story, write a few lines, or write multiple pages.



In this session children will make their own pirate treasure map and use this to help write a story. You will find prompts and examples for different places and dangers to face which can then be the main settings and events for a pirate treasure story. Children can use as many of the ideas given, or come up with their own ideas.


What you need

  • Paper for the map and also for writing a story
  • (Optional) tea bags
  • Pencil and pens
  • Access to the guides and ideas below

What to do

  • Step 1: Plan and make an ancient pirate treasure map
  • Step 2: Use the map to plan and write a treasure-seeking story

Step 1: Plan and make a treasure map

Go through the instructions with children to help them make a treasure map.

Instructions to make a treasure map

1. Draw a map of an island on a sheet of plain paper. Do it in pencil first, then when you’re happy with it go over the pencil with a black felt-tip pen.

2. Think of different landmarks such as an old shipwreck, a tall pile of stones, a pit of skeletons, a volcano, mountains, a river, a waterfall.

3. Include various terrains such as a thick jungle, forest, beach, mud and rocks.

4. Give your places and landmarks interesting or scary sounding names like The pit of bones or The lake of despair.

5. Decide at which location the treasure is buried.

6. Think about where you want all the locations and landmarks to be on the map – which ones will be close together and which will be on opposite sides of the island? What will be the route to the treasure?

7. When you’ve finished, use a wet tea bag to stain it and tear the edges to make the map look really old


As children plan and draw their map, encourage them to think of instructions they could write involving these different landmarks and terrains, such as walk ten paces, head north west, cross the rapids etc.
This is a good chance to develop skills in sequential instructions and time-connectives such as: then, first, when, after that, finally.
Write some of these words down as you discuss it. Later children can use them to help write some instructions for finding the treasure. Avoid making this a checklist of words that need to be used. The main point is to have fun and be creative!



Step 2: Treasure map story

Children can now use their finished map to make a story about looking for the buried treasure. Support them in going through the guide below to help them come up with ideas for their story.

The children’s stories can be anything from discussing a basic synopsis and plot to a fully written out adventure! They don’t have to complete it in one sitting, they could plan the basic outline and characters for their story now and develop it over time. If children are keen to write a fuller story, they can do the Wild Literacy Adventures in Description course to help them write some great setting and character descriptions. They can use the settings and any characters they have thought of here when they come to write their descriptions throughout the course.


Making a story from your treasure map

First decide who is searching for the treasure. Is it pirates using the map to go in search of the treasure or a character or characters who have found this old map made by pirates to buried treasure and have gone to find it.

Take a moment to jot down some initial ideas for the main character(s) who are searching for the treasure.

The different places on your map will help you create settings and dangers to face.
For example: a thick jungle crawling with dangerous creatures, a swamp or river to navigate, a mountain or volcano to pass, hot rocks/lava, palm trees, caves etc.

The map and all its exciting features are a great basis for the plot of a story as the pirates (or other characters) go from place to place. Imagine them walking through each part as you answer the questions below. Write the different places on a sheet of paper and make notes about the things you think of as you work through the questions.

For your treasure-seekers, think about:

  • What are they like: happy, grumpy, nervous, brave, silly, scary? Jot down some different emotions characters will be feeling at the different places on the map.
  • What dangers do they face and how will they overcome them? If there’s a group, will they all survive the journey? Make some notes about what happens to the characters at the different places. What action takes place?
  • Which parts of the map will be easy or help them on their journey and which will provide setbacks and danger?
  • Think about how characters interact with each other: What arguments might they have? How will they work together to survive?

How does the journey end? What will the characters have to do to find the treasure at the final spot? Will they find the treasure? How will you end the story?


You now have the settings, character ideas and the plot line. Write a treasure-seeking adventure using these ideas. It can be as short as a few lines or as long as a few pages!