It has been shown by studies and not just anecdotal survey that playing outside is a great boost for cognitive function, emotional health and energy levels in children and adults alike. Even being outside for a short break shows a marked improvement in all these areas and a reduction in stress levels. It surprised the psychologists and teachers alike that such a marked improvement could be calculated after a break of as little as 20 minutes.
Schools are now beginning to insert extra outdoor sessions during the day, regardless of the weather. Contrary to popular belief the children were actually less prone to colds and infections even when playing outside in the wet and windy winter.
A Scavenger Hunt is one outdoor activity that can be adapted for any outing. The Leaf Scavenger Hunt is suitable for all ages, even the little ones. Children too young to read can help to look for a particular shape or colour and are surprisingly observant and engaged.
Even in the winter months the parks, gardens and countryside are far from bare of leaves. Leaves come in an amazing variety of shapes, colours and sizes from the long thin sharp pine needles, the huge leaves of the London Plane Tree and the tiny leaves of thyme and wayside weeds.
Right now the evergreens are easy to spot and they too come in a huge variety of colours, textures, shapes and sizes; some that are shiny some that are fluffy or furry, others that are fat and succulent, long and thin, spiky, rough, sharp and splashed with colours. Even within the same species there are variations, even with in the same plant. Being a Nature Detective means you have to look very carefully and looking carefully you find all sorts of surprises, not just in variations of leaf but in tiny creatures that live there or other plants growing there in co-existence.
Here are some easy evergreen leaves to start your scavenger hunt, mostly these are an assortment of colours, but later when the deciduous leaves appear there will be a wealth of shapes to hunt for as well.