You must have seen students asking different questions looking at the sky during day and night. They are generally filled with so many questions about the existence of stars or why trees move only during certain times. Where do these questions come from? Purely through observation! The more they observe, the more they are attracted to learning about the subject matter.
Observation skills help in everyday life, right from remembering shopping lists to observing different patterns. Enhancing the skill supports the development of socio-emotional abilities among students. So, it is crucial to focus on the skill and polish it to enhance memory, concentration, and the presence of the mind.
Usage of different games and activities is a helpful way to enhance observational skills in elementary students. Usage of creative games and activities helps teachers create a fun learning platform thereby helping students to deeply engage with the subject. Below mentioned games and activities are a complete package of joy and learning while enhancing observation.
Fun games to teach observation skills to elementary students
Games offer a challenging environment and also help students learn more about sportsman spirit. It offers an innovative take on learning so check easy to play games below.
1. What Did you See?
Observation is not only about focusing on one specific thing but also finding all that you can. This game focuses on various materials and building memory.
- To play this game, take a huge box and fill it with different items including candles, a compass box, erasers, toys, and so on
- Now, divide the students into 2 teams
- Both teams need to observe the box filled with materials for at least 1 minute
- After this, ask teams to quickly start writing all that they have seen
- The team noting the highest number of elements wins the game
Such a game offers an opportunity for students to develop their observational skills and enhance their memory by remembering a maximum number of things at once. It also helps in team building as they work with different students. Hence, this activity also serves as a team-building activity.
2. Name It
This game involves taking students to a niche location and letting them observe everything. The game is all about being sharp with observing the minute details.
- To play this game, take students to any different location
- Give them a good time to observe everything
- Now, divide students into teams
- Now, ask different questions to the teams and allot them points
- For example, if you are in the school ground, ask them about the position of the basketball on the ground
- The team with the highest score wins the game
As this game involves exposure to outer space, they are more likely to observe random things. It offers them a unique perspective on observation and puts that into their thoughts.
3. Act it Out
Understanding through nonverbal communication is also an important aspect where observation plays a crucial role. This game focuses on observing acts to uncover the mystery.
- To play this game, make different chits and write idioms on them
- Now, divide the students into teams of 2
- Ask one student from one team to pick a chit
- The student needs to act the idiom for the other team member
- The other team member only has to guess through observation as to what is the idiom the first team member is acting
- For example, if the idiom is – cherry on the cake, the student can act like cutting a cake
- The team to completes the maximum number of idioms in 1 minute wins the game
As students learn to observe the acts, they are more likely to understand visual cues. The game also helps develop creativity as teams wish to complete a maximum number of idioms.
4. What’s Missing from my Platter?
Observation is not only watching something carefully but also remembering it after a while. This game focuses on observing hidden items in a creative way.
- To play this game, ask students to get a big tray or a platter
- Now, divide the students into teams of 5 members each
- Each team needs to design the platter with different stationary items or other objects
- For example, students may keep different pencils, erasers, or sanitizers on it
- Now, Team A presents the platter to Team B and Team B gets the time of 1 minute to observe the platter correctly
- After this, Team A needs to remove some objects and reframe the position
- Now, Team B needs to point out the things that are removed based on the observation
- The team that points it out in the minimum time wins the game
As the game focuses on hidden objects and finding them out, students are more likely to get competitive and perform their best. It helps boost memory as well.
5. Memory Flashcards
Flashcards are a helpful way of teaching students the basic skill of observation. They help with memory building and higher retention of information.
- Take different flashcards and attach different pictures to it
- Just like a memory game, each student gets a flashcard in hand
- Now, ask them to stand in a circle and start dancing
- After this, say stop and let students show their cards for 2 seconds
- After this, if any student finds a similar flashcard with the picture, he/she needs to quickly make the pair and move out
- The students in the last round lose the game
Also being a motor skills activity, this game is not only creative but also helps develop motor skills. Students are more likely to enjoy and learn to observe amidst disturbance.
Easy peasy and innovative observation activities
Activities lead to a more channelized way of learning as students feel more connected to the subject matter. Below-mentioned activities are easy to conduct and offer a comprehensive learning environment.
1. Find Out
Spotting hidden objects is definitely one of my favorite activities as it increases intrigue in students. This activity helps them tap their observational skills through constant focus and mindfulness.
- To conduct this activity, take different sketches where there are hidden elements in the big picture
- For example, a picture might have hidden butterflies in a huge scenery
- Distribute this sheet to students and ask them to observe and color the hidden object they spot.
Such activities are helpful for increasing focus as it results in finding hidden objects. Students also get a creative opportunity through coloring.
2. Observing Nature
Being out in nature is indeed refreshing and this activity is all about deeply observing nature. The activity focuses on observation despite external factors.
- To conduct this activity, take students out in the school playground or any garden
- Ask them to observe their surroundings carefully
- Now, ask them to bifurcate between living things and nonliving things
- In this activity, they may put trees, plants, and other insects in living things while stones, branches, and benches in nonliving things
- Make sure to offer your input and understanding to students about their experience
This activity focuses on going out and observing the things that one might not necessarily observe in everyday life. It not only increases concentration but also enhances imagination skills.
3. Draw and Splash Colors
Even in the same surroundings, students observe different things. This activity focuses on appreciating their unique observational skills through creativity.
- To conduct this activity, take students to the school playground
- Give them canvases and colors to splash their creativity
- Ask students to observe everything around them and draw their favorite elements
- For example, some students may draw a simple tree while others may draw an insect or a whole scenery
As this activity is all about finding their creative instincts, it also helps them observe nature. Students also get an opportunity to widen their imagination with this activity.
4. Spot the Difference
The observation comes with understanding the smallest difference between various elements. This activity enhances the will to find something quickly and with wit.
- To conduct this activity, find pictures that look similar and have certain differences only
- For example, a scenery with a house might have everything but one butterfly might be missing if both pictures are compared
- Distribute two pictures on one sheet to students
- Ask them to circle the minor differences through observation
As the activity is all about observing two pictures, students are more likely to become visually sharp. They also learn to detect errors in other pictures after participating in this activity.
5. Watch and Do
An activity that helps students learn purely through watching something is indeed one that helps develop observational skills.
- To conduct this activity, show students a basic video of making a sandwich
- Tell them beforehand to get the ingredients for a sandwich
- Now, show the video and ask them to observe it carefully
- Take a break of 5 mins and ask them to start making the sandwich as per the video purely through observation
- Guide them wherever needed
The activity helps students to practically apply something that is seen and heard. It also helps them learn the importance of sequencing when making a sandwich or any other food item. Hence, this activity can be clubbed with sequencing activities to draw the maximum benefits.
Essential tips for parents and teachers to develop observation in elementary students
- To increase observation, keep asking different questions to younglings. Whenever you are with them in the garden, school, or any other surrounding, ask different questions and let them observe something carefully.
- You can also indulge your children and students in different puzzle-solving activities that require focus and concentration. Many puzzles improve imagination with visually appealing and knowledgeable themes.
- Engage little ones in the habit of reading. The more they read the more they are keen to observe the surroundings and create relatability with different stories and rhymes.
- Everyday communication about their experience and how their day was, also helps children in carefully observing things. It encourages minute details thereby increasing their memory.
Observation is an important skill for elementary students as it brings awareness and encourages an alert mindset. While students learn to observe things, they are also developing themselves for future endeavors that require concentration and focus. The usage of observation games and activities offers a comprehensive learning environment leading to more interest and imagination.
Teachers also get an opportunity to understand the student’s learning pace and can work further on increasing concentration. It is significant to know that each child is different and their observations can be totally unique compared to others.
I am Shweta Sharma. I am a final year Masters student of Clinical Psychology and have been working closely in the field of psycho-education and child development. I have served in various organisations and NGOs with the purpose of helping children with disabilities learn and adapt better to both, academic and social challenges. I am keen on writing about learning difficulties, the science behind them and potential strategies to deal with them. My areas of expertise include putting forward the cognitive and behavioural aspects of disabilities for better awareness, as well as efficient intervention. Follow me on LinkedIn