“Treasure Hunt” Writing Activity


“Treasure Hunt” Writing Activity

The following post is courtesy of Keith Toda. He teaches Latin at Parkview High School, a public school in Lilburn, GA. He teaches with four other Latin teachers in one of the largest Latin programs in the nation (USA). I highly recommend that you bookmark his blog and come back to it. There is truly so much great information and so many ideas there! (And it is applicable to all languages!)

Keith Toda’s Blog: https://todallycomprehensiblelatin.blogspot.com/

The following post was originally posted on Keith Toda’s blog (here) and is re-posted here with his permission.

Treasure Hunt – Writing

At this summer’s CI Summit in Savannah, I attended Eric Richards presentation “Writing Strategies for the ADI Classroom” (based on his book, Grafted Writing – get this book!!) – for me, easily this was the BEST presentation which I attended that week (tied with Annabelle Williamson‘s “Brain Breaks,” because 1) it was all about brain breaks and 2) it was freakin’ Annabelle Williamson!). Eric presented SO MANY really practical ways to get students to write in the target language which are very easy to incorporate into one’s curriculum.

One of the activities from Eric’s presentation which I recently used with a few of my classes was Treasure Hunt Writing, and it is exactly that: a “treasure hunt” for students to find and copy down specific sentences from a reading based on a number of categories.


  1. Using a known passage, create your categories. The categories can be structures, certain vocabulary words, or details. Pick categories for which students can find more than one sentence, i.e., do not pick an esoteric category for which there is only one sentence. 
  2. If you want to give students additional parameters, tell students that they need to find X number of sentences for a category.
  3. Give students a copy of the reading, as well as a whiteboard and marker (everything is made better with whiteboards, just like bacon!)
  4. Project a category, and give students time to copy down the sentences based on the category.
  5. As a group, review the sentences which students found.
  6. Have students erase their whiteboards, and project a new category. 
  7. Repeat again.
  8. Variation – you can divide students into groups, and project all categories at once. Each group is in charge of finding sentences for that category. Students can then share and compare their sentences within their groups.

Below is an example which I used – mine was in Latin, but it is in English for you (this passage is actually based on a PQA which Eric demonstrated with our cohort group)

Cooper is not happy, because Kevin is a better basketball player than Cooper. Cooper wants to be a better basketball player than Kevin, but Kevin is the best. Kevin plays basketball very well! Cooper is athletic, but Kevin is more athletic than Cooper. When people see Kevin playing basketball, they shout, “Kevin is the best!” and they celebrate! When people see Cooper playing basketball, they do not shout and they do not celebrate.

Cooper has an elephant. The elephant is big and athletic. The elephant does not play basketball but plays soccer. When people see the elephant playing soccer, they shout, “The elephant is the best!” and they celebrate! Cooper does not want the elephant to play soccer. Cooper wants the elephant to play basketball. Cooper wants the people to shout, “The elephant is the best basketball player!”

Cooper wants the elephant to be a better basketball player than Kevin. Cooper wants the elephant to be more athletic than Kevin. Cooper trains the elephant to play basketball. Cooper trains the elephant to be a better basketball player than Kevin! But the elephant is not happy – it does not want to play basketball! The elephant wants to play soccer!


  1. Copy down FOUR sentences from the story which contain the Latin word “want”
  2. Copy down THREE sentences from the story which describe Kevin as a basketball player.
  3. Copy down THREE sentences from the story which describe actual or possible crowd reaction.


  1. This is a great post-reading activity!!
  2. Students need to have some degree of familiarity with the passage, because this involves close reading. This is not at all something which I would do after introducing a passage unless it was very readable and 100% comprehensible for students.
  3. Some may be wondering, “Where is the CI aspect of this? Aren’t students just copying down sentences from the reading?” My response: “There is SO MUCH CI going on here!” First off, students are receiving understandable messages in reading/re-reading this familiar passage – lots of robust exposure to familiar language. Secondly, in copying down the sentences, students are receiving more comprehensible input, because they should be understanding the meaning in L1 as they copy down each word; if they are not, then to them they are just writing down “nonsense words.”
  4. I love that this is very low-prep activity! All that I had to do was to create 3-4 “categories” for students to find sentences based on the reading.
  5. This is also a great higher-order thinking activity, because for those categories asking for a specific detail, students have to truly read the passage and to use their judgment to determine if a sentence fits that category.
  6. I was surprised at how engaged students actually were in this!

Give this one a try – it is a definite keeper! Thanks, Eric!!

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