Although the garden provides many opportunities for exploration and discovery, I have found my daughter needs a little more encouragement to get her observation skills up and running. To help her pay attention to her surroundings, I developed a scavenger hunt chart. I put the chart on a clipboard, grab a pen and off we go to our garden, a park, or some other type of a community green space.
The chart includes pictures of things commonly seen in the garden and in nature (leaves, birds, butterflies, etc) and she checks off each item as she finds them. Click here to download our chart as a pdf file.
There are many ways to adapt this activity to best fit the interests and needs of your child. Here are a few ideas:
- Make a nature bracelet. For our game, we hunt with our eyes rather than by collection since we often play in public spaces and some of the items to find are animals. However, if you are in a location where collection is acceptable, you can make a bracelet from masking tape (sticky side out) and as your child finds the items (non-animal of course) on the list, have him/her place the items on the bracelet. At the end of the game, you have a fun keepsake to show off.
- Our scavenger hunt focuses on visual clues. You could also develop a sound, texture, or smell, hunt (or an edible hunt if you have a vegetable or herb garden and your child is old enough to understand not to eat unknown items).
- If your child is highly competitive, keep track of the time it takes to find all the items, trying to beat your previous times, or add prizes. You will find after using the chart a couple of times, your child will start pointing out items listed even when you are not playing. It is a sneaky way to start honing those science skills at home.
Do you have any great summer time activity ideas to share? Please post them on our Kidsgardening.org Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/KidsGardening.org).