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3 Ways to Work on Observation

October 20, 2015 3 min read

Using binoculars, playing games, and taking pictures are three ways we can help our students work on their observations skills. 

“We cannot create observers by saying ‘observe’, but by giving them the power and the means for this observation and these means are procured through the education of the senses.”

I love this quote from Maria Montessori! We cannot simply say “observe”, we actually have to teach our students how to observe. And we can do that through a variety of ways.

  • We can model observation for our students.
  • We can share science in nature and in the lab with our students.
  • We can provide our students with the tools for their own observations.

Last month I shared about why observation is a key skill. And we looked at how you can increase your students’ powers of observation through nature study and scientific tests.

Today I want to look at how we can step outside of the lab and provide some unique tools for our students to work on those observation skills!

3 Ways to Work on Observation Skills

Working on the skill of observation is important for science education! Here are three ways you can provide opportunities for your students to learn to observe.#1 – Use binoculars.

“I was transformed by picking up a pair of binoculars and looking up.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

Binoculars make everything bigger. And to a kid, this is super cool!

But more than that, binoculars enlarge what the students are looking at, which makes it much easier for them to make observations about the object.

You can let them have palm-sized binoculars [link] that they can carry around in their pockets, or you can share a full-sized pair with your students. Either way, binoculars will transform the world around them into a giant observation lab.

#2 – Play games.

“Play is the highest form of research.” – Albert Einstein

If a genius like Albert Einstein saw tremendous value in play, we can certainly use it to our advantage in the homeschool setting!

Playing games like “I Spy” naturally come to mind as an option, but what about “Battleship” or “War”, which both teach the students to observe what is happening. How about playing the “License Plate” game or the “Punch-a-Buggy” game the next time you are in the car.

Playing games is a super fun way to help your students work on their observation skills.

#3 – Take pictures.

“To me, photography is an art of observation.” – Elliot Erwitt

How many times have you picked up your phone to find pictures of your child’s favorite stuffed animal in what seems like hundreds of different poses?

I know I am not the only one who has kids that love to take pictures! Children love to pretend to be mini-photographers, running around the house and clicking pictures of what they see!

A photographer scans the environment they find in front of them and then highlights what he or she finds interesting with the click of a button. In other words, taking pictures is an exercise in observation.

So go ahead and hand your students a digital camera or an old phone that takes pictures. Let them loose as they observe their environment and click that button until their hearts are content!

In a Nutshell

Observation is a key skill for homeschool science, that we need to impart to our students. A good bit of this can be done with demonstrations, experiments, or nature study.

But did you know that you can also work on your students’ observation skills by:

  1. Giving them a pair of binoculars.
  2. Playing lots of games.
  3. Handing them a camera.

Read more about these methods in three ways to work on observation


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