I frequent a lovely local trail that gets a lot of family traffic through on the weekends, and sometimes I hear young kids asking bewildered adults in their group all kinds of questions about what they’re observing. (Often followed by horribly wrong answers from the adults.)
On occasion though, I have gently pointed out things that they may have overlooked and it’s quite a rush to see the expressions on the faces, especially the kids, if it’s something totally surprising and you can really feel their awakening curiosity in their expressions and sometimes follow up discussion.
So it made me want to pool the community here about this common ‘recruitment’ long-game interaction.
Have you a favourite observation trick that you often share with non-naturalists that helps spark greater interest in nature observing?
To start us off:
My most popular ‘hit’ (by far) is something for when the jewelweed pods are ripe. (It grows in thick patches along this trail.)
I will carefully pick of a few thick pods and ask the kids to hold their hand out flat and gently lay some pods on top.
Then I ask them to slowly tickle the pods (if they’re really young, I will demo with my own hand.)
There’s almost always a cry of delight, and quite a few insisted repetitions of the ‘trick’ for mom, dad, etc. And… big smiles, followed by a lot more questions and general natural discovery excitement.
Lately I’ve been thinking it might be great to somehow get our public library involved in this little interaction.
I’d love to have a little card with their contact and promo to hand out. (Wouldn’t it be great if their kids programming would promote being vectors that connected young naturalists to good, safe info resources?)
But that’s just one of my local nature ‘trick’. What are some of your favourite ways to spark more interest in natural observation in the young and/or curious?