adapted from Wee Green Fingers Fun Pack and Child’s Play (Kat Jones, SNH)
To encourage young children to explore and describe the variety of life around them by creating new names for what they find. The activities help to develop language and communication skills, and recognise the special characteristics of living things.
Did you know?
Sometimes plants and animals have fun names which describe them. Buddleias are called butterfly bushes because many butterflies land on the flowers to drink the nectar. You can make up fun names too and then it does not matter if you do not know the usual name of a plant or animal in your garden.
Before the activity
Talk about names that you know – people and creatures. Why do things have to have a name? Does your name describe you? Can you think of a new name for yourself or a friend that describes them well?
Find an interesting plant or animal in the garden. What is special about
Give the plant or animal a new name - something to do with what is interesting about it.
Share this new name with a friend and introduce them to your animal or plant.
Sit outside beside your plant or animal with a board and a big piece of paper. Draw or paint a picture of it. Hang all your pictures up on a washing line, or mix them up on the ground. Can your friend find your plant or animal picture, after you introduced it to the real thing, and remember the name you gave it?
You could play a variation on the game of Chinese whispers. A small group of children gather round your plant. Whisper its new name in one person’s ear, and so on along the line. The last person tells the whole group the name they heard. Is it the same?
Find your leaf: Every leaf is different! This activity is especially good in autumn. Every child finds a leaf he or she particularly likes – this could be from their special plant that they have named. (Support care of the environment – encourage the children to avoid damaging the growing plant and preferably pick up fallen leaves). Encourage them to look at the shape, colour, veins etc. All leaves are put in one box and then taken out one at a time. Can each child find their special leaf?
Thread the colourful leaves you have found, safe berries and fruits (e.g. rose hips, rowans, quinces) and nuts and cones on a string, or make a leaf washing line using mini clothes pegs, to make an autumn decoration.
This above activities link well with the Sticky Stories activity in the School Grounds Topic.