I love the fall season. When the kids were very small, I used to put them in the stroller and go for long walks. Every now and then the children got out and jumped into leaf piles shouting with glee. Now we walk around stopping to admire anything that catches our attention.
As always I started my day with an early morning run and was amazed by the riot of colours, not just on the deciduous trees. Even the pine trees were so different. What better way to share this interest than to go on an ‘Autumn Scavenger Hunt’ and have them look around with a purpose?
This time, I prepared an ‘observation checklist’ because I wanted to direct our ‘stop and admire’ halts to build vocabulary. I selected descriptive vocabulary words, most of which were opposites. My youngest is only 2 ½ yrs old. So I added pictures of actual objects to help him with the Autumn Scavenger Hunt. The pictures were as close to objects that they see or play with at home (See the peacock feather and the lamp? Yes, they love the worms in our garden and can’t understand why I made these green and not brown.).
You know how we think kids will be fascinated by the same things as us, but instead they go for something entirely different? Yes, that happened to me too.
While the vocabulary here seemed simple enough I was surprised by the language this activity brought forth. As she was looking for something big D informed me, “I know another way to say very big. I can say ee-noor-mous. Another way to say very small is teeny tiny.”
I added prickly to the list thinking that she would definitely pick the thorns in the bushes, but then she brought a thin twig over with small branches and said, “This is prickly. It can poke if you step on it without shoes.”
On the way, we saw several crushed seed pods and seeds scattered on the streets. D picked the small seeds and a whole pod for her collection. She shook the pod and heard the seeds rattling inside. That started off questions about why the seeds were inside the pod and why they had to be ‘protected’.
As D collected the samples for the ‘parts of the plant’ (at the end of the list), she combined the descriptive words. “Hey, look this acorn is hard and round, and it is pointy at the tip.” I had to look closely to see yes, it was indeed pointed at the bottom. “The grass is loooong and thin.” When I pointed to some berries on a bush, “Yeah, that is a fruit but we should not pick it. It could be poisonous.” I had to smile and agree.
We stopped at the park for a while and walked back home.
The best part was that D pointed to different sights along the way and described them. “Look, the tree is very rough. This seed is short. That leaf is shiny. This tree has leaves with red lines. But that tree has very little leaves left.” I’m enjoying D’s observations as much as she enjoys sharing these with us.
D had so much fun with the Autumn Scavenger Hunt that she has already asked me if we could go for another one soon. Have to get those winter words ready!