Take the observational activities that you do at home outside.

Observation Activities for Children

by Flora Richards-Gustafson

Observation activities introduce your little to the wonders of the world, engage the senses and help develop important skills. According to the Scholastic website, tots start categorizing information and using past experiences to make sense of the world at the age of 2. Then, at 3, observation teaches kids about cause and effect and the physical space around them. As your kid explores the world, her senses sharpen and her imagination grows.

1. Spot-the-Difference Books

When your little one is young, his world is simple. For example, when he starts putting information into categories, he may think that all birds are chickens or that all small four-legged animals are cats, according to the Scholastic site. By using spot-the-difference picture books, you can your tot expand upon his vocabulary and develop the way he sees his small world. Spot-the-difference picture books place two seemingly identical pictures side by side. When your tot looks carefully, he’ll see that one picture has distinct differences -- a shirt might be a blue instead of red, or a table may only have three legs instead of four. When you use this type of book, your tot learns to be a more careful observer of his surroundings and becomes better able to recognize patterns.

2. Bird Feeding

Help your child use her observational skills to practice forming comparisons and descriptions. Hang a bird feeder close to a window to attract the feathered friends. Then sit near the window as you eat or do other activities so you can easily see birds that come over for a snack. Encourage your child to notice the color, quantity, size and sounds of birds so she can describe them to you. If your sweet pea loves to draw and color, leave a small blank notebook and crayons by the window so she can draw pictures of the birds that visit the feeder.

3. Shape Finding

Observation can help your tot practice recognize and name shapes. The PBS website recommends that you tell your tot that if he looks closely, he’ll find shapes everywhere, like in his room, food, signs or clothes. If your little one is just starting to learn about shapes, focus on one at a time. For example, have him only point out the triangles that he sees. As he learns more shapes, he’ll start to start to see them more often in everyday objects. Turn shape recognition into a fun game of I Spy. Tell your little one that you spy something that, for example, is square. He’ll then have to practice using descriptive words, like colors, to guess the object.

4. Daily Weather

Help your kid learn more about the weather by making a weather chart that requires daily observations. Make or buy a large calendar and weather-related stickers, like clouds, rain drops, the sun, wind and snowflakes. Every day, look at the characteristics of the weather with your tot and ask her what the weather is like. She’ll need to use her observational skills to figure this out. For example, she might tell you that the sky is blue and it feels warm outside, so it’s sunny. Then help your tot find the right weather sticker for the day and let her stick it onto the weather calendar.

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