Have you ever taken a nature walk or hike with a ranger or guide who was able to point out dozens of things you'd never had noticed on your own? Have you ever been impressed by the trained eye of an experienced stargazer who saw constellations where you only saw a polka dotted sky of white sparkles? We all can learn to be observant. Young children have the makings of great observers. In kindergarten we like encourage children's natural curiosity in order to foster better observation skills. I find it so entertaining when I rearrange some part of the classroom, change the pattern on the calendar, switch out the objects in the counting jar, and take a bulletin board down to see how many children notice and can describe what is different.
I think that careful observers become better thinkers. The more children notice in the world around them, the better the questions they ask, and the better the connections they make among things they've observed. Good observation skills often lead to greater success in reading, writing, and problem solving.
Play a detective game at home with your child or children to hone everyone's skills of observation and memory. Players scan a room for a short time, trying to notice everything they can. Then they go to another room, where they get three minutes to list (written or verbal) as many things from the first room as they can remember. When time is up, players compare their lists to see whose is the longest or whose list included the greatest number of details or interesting observations. This game can also be played outdoors! All you need is paper, pencil, a timer, a sharp eye, and a good memory!!
-Mrs. Hatfield, Kindergarten Teacher