Epic Treasure Map (that You Can Bring to Life)




Introduction: Epic Treasure Map (that You Can Bring to Life)

About: I love to make things and I love my kids. This usually results in me making things with my kids (and lovely wife). Here you will find our adventures and be able to join our family in the making!

This was a quick and inexpensive project (30min/5cents) that my kids were able to take part in and turned into a incredible afternoon of imagination and adventure. Take a minute to look at our build video for reference and inspiration and then collect these few supplies to get started!


  • 1 page of printer paper
  • 1 black-tea tea bag
  • 1 candle and matches


  • Colored pencils

Step 1: Create a World

Imagine a world you would like to visit and then create a map of it. Sounds simple right? It is. There needs to be mix of whimsy, magic, danger, and believability to allow your imagination to bring it to life. For us this a Mermaid Lagoon, Dragon Mountain, The Forest of Dark, Ghost Hollow, and the Wolf's Layer. My kids even created a creature that haunts this land called the Boomswim (half octopus, half wolf... all terrifying) You can always borrow from other fantastical worlds and put Hogwarts, Mordor, Oz and Tatooine on the same map. Wouldn't it be nice to visit Mordor as a Jedi! Maybe that's just me. :-)

I find that having between three and six locations makes it easier to "visit" those locations in the last step of this instructable when you bring the map to life.

Step 2: Add Oldness

Nothing says "old" like wrinkles and crinkles. Take your newly drawn map and add some years by balling it up like trash and spreading it back out again a couple of times. My kids found this step oddly satisfying.

Step 3: Burn Baby, Burn

This is an activity you will want to do in a safe non-flammable environment with your kids at a safe distance. It is important for kids to learn how to handle fire as a tool and you could take this opportunity to teach fire safety.

It is my artistic opinion that burning the edges of a map can be over done. Think of it as a steak that should be cooked rare or medium rare. Before you start burning your kid's art work take a second to imagine that this priceless map has been handed down to you from the ages. It has had many colorful and strange owners, one of which almost lost it in a fire (hence the burnt edges). Or, could it have been the last possession saved from a burning ship? Perhaps it was scavenged from the smoldering remains of meritorious unfortunate event? Burn accordingly. And, be safe!

Step 4: Have a Tea Party

You are going to need tea so you might as well throw a tea party. I grew up in Kenya where we had Chai regularly but on occasion our family likes to have what we call "British" tea. If you are interested in the recipe I have included it on my blog here. Totally worth it!

Step 5: Age to Perfection

The final touch that makes this map feel truly epic is the aging effect from the tea. You basically paint on black tea using a used teabag from your tea party and then dry out the paper once it has been sufficiently colored. Again, you can easily see us doing this on the build video. If you want a darker color or more depth to the aged coloring feel free to apply a second coat after the first has dried... we were too impatient to get started on our adventure for a second coat. On to the final step!

Step 6: Bring Your Map to Life

To me, every old map tells a story. But, it takes an adventurer willing to answer the map's call to create a new story with the map. My kids and I had a BLAST brining our map to life and you can watch our journey here. Beware, there be dragons ...and mermaids, and cows, and golden dogs, and wolves, and fairy queens...

If you find it daunting lead your little one into the world of make-believe then fear no longer! I have traveled those trails often and discovered 3 golden rules of make-believe to help you on your quest to heroic parenthood. Prepare to embrace your calling as keeper of your child's imagination! You, and your kids are in for an epic discovery.

We made swords, shields, and creature masks to help with adventure. Click the links to see those instructables and build your own.


Thanks for joining us in this adventure! If you enjoy spending time with your kids and would appreciate fresh ideas and inspiration weekly, consider subscribing to my youtube channel where I do a weekly project with my own kids. I would love to have you join our family!

Blessings, Caleb

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    3 Discussions


    3 years ago

    That's fun. Nice family you have :)

    DIY Hacks and How Tos

    That is awesome! I can't wait until my kids are old enough to do this.


    Reply 3 years ago

    It was a blast and surpassingly easy. The tough part was recreating the locations that they came up with! I did come up with what I think are some helpful tips on that subject. Feel free to take a look and plan for the days you get to go on adventures with your little ones!