Want a fun activity to increase mapping skills and challenge the powers of observation? This quick activity will be a hit with your students. Before doing this project, you will need to “hide” several items in your schoolyard or nature area. Take care not to place them in a location that invites the students to damage the area. I always like to use fishing line to hang a few items from tree branches.
Instruct students that there are items hidden in the area (mention the boundaries) and allow them 20 - 30 minutes to explore and record their finds. During this activity, your students will notice much more than the items you've hidden! It's a great way to open their eyes to all that your schoolyard or nature area has to investigate.
Student Worksheet: Unnatural Nature Hunt (pdf)
NOTE: I divided our Nature Center into four areas (A,B,C,D) and had the students create a map of the garden. They used the clues provided and their powers of observation to find each item and mark its secret location on their maps.
Answers to riddles: Area A - Green crayon, eraser, and scissors, Area B - Compass, chalk, and paperclip, Area C - Test tube and pencil, Area D - Magnifying glass and ruler.
Another idea .... Last fall, I selected items that corresponded to the terms we had discussed during our ecology lessons, such as a dark green crayon for camouflauge, bright red bouncy ball for flash coloration, flower-shaped eraser for mimicry, fork for body armor (spikes or spines), and a dirty sock for odor/poisons. During the post-lesson discussion, I challenged the kids to identify the defense mechanism illustrated by each item and allowed time for them to develop a list of animals and plants that used the different defenses to protect them from predation.