Monday, October 5, 2009

Nature Game

We love being outside and looking at all the creepy crawlies. We have have an entire shelf on the bookcase full of books on various animals. We also own books very specific to Tasmanian flora & fauna. In fact, we went way out of our way to obtain the Tasmanian Mammals as well as the Tasmania Flowers & Plant books. The boys love pulling out the bird book (or asking me to) and looking up the birds we aren't sure of. In fact this week we discovered we had a European Goldfinch pair trying to untangle some string from the tree. They were quite funny to watch as they worked for a good 30 minutes with little success. However, I wanted a way to get the kids up and investigating more then the obvious this summer. With a camping trip on the horizon, I decided putting my plan into action was a good idea.

I had originally thought of buying the Fundanas that are available and making a bandanna quilt, and while I still totally love that idea the shipping on Fundanas to me wasn't very cool. I was bummed and had to go back to the drawing board. It dawned on me that I could come up with ideas for the kids to do that would require them to look closely at things, to investigate more, and to remember the names of things as well. So I made a list, which turned out to be quite long, and then I pulled out my trusty scrapbooking program and started working on the squares for the gameboard.

I wanted a variety of things that were neither too challenging or too easy. The idea was to have fun but learn while we were at it. Funny thing is, some of the simpler things (like the shape square) are actually harder then some of the other squares. However, the boys didn't care one little bit. The idea of the game is to play it outdoors, so I was grateful to find a board game that folded down into a square. That makes it easier to tuck into our nature bags. I stayed up way too late putting the board together and when they discovered it in the morning they begged us all day long to play it.

It takes a good length of time to play, but I saw that as a good thing. We actually took it with us when visiting family to test it in another location as well. It was drizzly on and off that day so we set it up inside and each person darted outside to look for various things. We were highly impressed when we sent Jayden outside to find a living animal and he came back to report he'd spotted "baby frogs". I was quite in doubt knowing there was no water source on the property and requested that he take me to them. He was not mistaken. There was a barrel of rain water that was littered quite thickly with tadpoles! He was very sad when I said we couldn't take any home. I pointed out it was probably wiser to keep coming back and checking on them in their "natural" home.

This particular square was inspired by the One Small Square books. It encourages children to look beyond the surface and more closely at what lays beneath their feet. The idea in the above square was for the kids to look really closely and take notice of what's under them. The first time this square was landed on and the reply was, "Nothing under me is living. It's just grass and dirt." Ahh, so we had a quick lesson about grass being a living thing. It eats and breathes and grows. So they had to look closer to see if anything else could be discovered.

The game is really a great success in regards to how I hoped it would work for us. The boys are really looking forward to taking it camping and playing it with cousins. Aside from pulling my hair out trying to cover the board in contact paper it was relatively easy too. I'm thinking of putting in an order with Barebooks for a few gameboards, and then possibly using one of them as a give-away here for this fun Nature game. In fact, the boys decided the game was so much fun it had to have a name, they've dubbed it: Fun With Nature Game.

You will need a few field guides, a magnifying class or two, and a timer to play the game. There are squares that require identifying objects. Most squares are timed to keep play moving along, all though timing is truly optional. We decided that if one task can't be completed you should move back one square and try again, but we've not actually followed through with that rule yet. Other then that the squares are pretty self explanatory, and because we made it ourselves we dispersed them around the board as we saw fit. I have to be honest, I'm looking forward to seeing how this game works with a larger group of people too, but I'm also tickled pink my gang thinks it's the best game ever!

1 comment:

Diane said...

How inventive of you. This game looks wonderful. If you do decide to give one away as a giveaway I will be first in line to sign up.