Exploration and discovery: Exploration games to awaken children's curiosity
Children are masters of exploration and investigation, showing a curiosity for their environment. These skills are an important factor in learning about themselves and the world they live in. Areas and objects can arouse a child's curiosity and enable them to use a range of senses to investigate. This leads them to acquire knowledge and experience, supporting their development.
Keys and locks
Allowing children to experience everyday resource, such as keys and padlocks, will stimulate their investigative skills. Simply use a number of padlocks and, using colored stickers, match them to the right keys, leave them in a tray and let the kids have fun investigating which key belongs to which padlock. To extend this activity, you can place the padlock along a fence or gate, letting children experiment with the difference between open and closed.
Feely boxes are a great way for children to explore a range of materials and textures using their senses. Feely boxes are easy to make, simply collect shoeboxes and drill a hole in the top or side of the box. Let the children decorate the boxes and use a thin material and tie them loosely to the inside of the box, partially covering the hole. Next, collect a few objects to put in each box and let the children run their hands through the hole to feel the object and guess what it is. Natural items such as pine cones, conkers and shells are excellent items to use, as they have distinctive textures.
Bug hotels are perfect for investigating! To make a bug hotel, you can use recycled resources such as wooden pallets, bricks, plant pots and foliage. This creates a habitat for all the little creatures and mini-beasts that live in the outdoor environment. Provide magnifying glasses and transparent pots so that children can inspect the creatures up close.
Ponds are full of life and a great way to investigate living things. Ponds can be dangerous for young children and require a lot of supervision; however, taking a small amount of water from a local pond or lake and transferring it to a small tray is a great way for children to explore safely. Children can observe the tiny pond life and talk about how they live. Frog spawning is a great addition to pond life in spring, and allows children to experience life cycles as they watch tadpoles turn into frogs.
Bird feeders are easy and fun to make with children. You can make bird food for very little money using lard and bird seed. This can then be made into balls or added to empty yoghurt pots for the birds to access. Children can watch the birds as they land to feed, talking about the different types of birds found.
Treasure hunts and treasure trails
Organize a treasure hunt in your garden, park or inside the house. Hide clues and objects that children have to find by following the clues. This encourages them to explore their surroundings and solve puzzles.
Create a treasure hunt by placing clues in different places. Children must follow the clues to discover a final treasure. This encourages them to explore new places, observe their surroundings and use their powers of observation.