Are you children interested in nature? Could they do with less screen time? Does your child love ‘treasure hunts’ or drawing? Do you need an activity that you can direct from the kitchen?
This activity promotes language-learning, getting outdoors, drawing skills and if need be, an opportunity for you to get the kids out from under your feet! Of course you might find yourself out in the garden with your kids which is even better, providing you with fresh air and an opportunity to get to know your backyard better too!
Bring in the Backyard Treasure list! This is how we play:
1. Present your child with a special ‘notebook and artist pen’ and tell them they are going to find some treasures in the backyard. They will need to listen up closely!
2. Challenge your child to find an example of each treasure description you provide (see list below for each treasure description). Note, each description includes a word that the child must understand to find the correct item, great for language development. You may need to discuss what the descriptive words mean before they go hunting.
Just a sample of ideas!
3. The child must go and draw what they find, not touch. This is to avoid little hands dealing with spiders and other not-so-safe delights in the garden. Older kids might be fine to decide what they pick/bring back, but the main aim is for the child to then draw the treasure. This is great practice for drawing what they see with the motivation of having a collection of drawings of their findings.
4. The child brings their notepad back to show you the drawing and to check if it fits the treasure description. This is a great time to further promote your child’s language skills by discussing if the item fits the description and how they decided they would pick that particular item. If it does not fit the description, you may need to provide some examples of the descriptive word, for example ‘wet means there might be water on it, it’s not dry‘).
5. Give the next treasure description.
For older kids, you could provide the written list, as above and let them go out and take on the task themselves.
This activity can then be repeated again and again, encouraging your child to find different items to match the descriptions. Or think up a list of new descriptions!
Here is the list we have used so far:
- a brown leaf
- a ‘forked’ stick (one with a ‘V’ in it)
- a spider
- something NOT green or brown
- something moving (don’t touch)
- something living
- something when you look up
- something you can eat
- something wet
- something man made
- something that feels rough
- something with a nice smell
- something old
- something new
- a green leaf
Don’t forget even words like ‘NOT’ are descriptive words and are important for a child to understand. A child may not understand the concept of ‘something new’ in the garden, so you may have to explain how ‘new’ relates to the garden. If your child is not old enough for understanding words such as ‘man made’, think about some other descriptions you could add. Here are just a few ideas to get you started – more descriptors of how items feel, look, colours, NOT….., quantity. Remember the more you play with the same descriptions, the more your child has to think outside the box to find something different.
a few ‘picked’ items
And if your child really does like to bring back a collection for you, why not save these in a basket and leave out for later imaginative play!
Let me know how your children get on with this fun yet educational activity!
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