OK. Imagine the scenario. You arrive at a class to support an outdoor learning session and it’s not happening. Do you:
a) Nip off to the staffroom for a quick cuppa?
b) Join in the planned (indoor) activity?
c) Set up an impromptu Harry Potter hunt?
Generally speaking I’m not a big fan of trails outdoors as I have too much experience of spending hours setting it up for it all to be over within a few minutes. However a couple of years ago I put together a Harry Potter trail based upon the puzzle Hermione and Harry encountered in their quest to find the Philosopher’s Stone. It a useful comprehension exercise with a bit of deduction thrown in for good measure. The rhyming puzzle was split into 16 clues, e.g.:
These were cut out, laminated and then posted around the school grounds at top speed. (Run, teacher, run!). On a map I marked the approximate location of the clues. The beautiful map below was drawn by a child in the Primary 7 class which was quick to photocopy for each group. Whilst it is not drawn to scale, the slight inaccuracies add to the challenge.
Like orienteering, the children were set the task and then had to copy the numbers onto their own map using the master. They had to consider the most efficient strategy for collecting and writing down the clues.
Some groups stuck together. Other groups chose to split up and seek the clues independently bring the results back to a record keeper.
Most groups realised that collecting the clues in order wasn’t necessary.
And the map was frequently consulted.
Once the clues had been located and collected, the groups began the task of putting them together in the correct order and working out which bottle contained which potion on the table below:
I found it interesting to observe the children undertaking this part of the task. One or two children in each group got really into the puzzle. The rest opted out. Having a task to engage the opter-outers at this point is useful. The actual hunt appealed highly to the whole class. It was an unexpected surprise to be sent outside on a balmy spring day to do this.
Because I had kept my original cards and had a map readily available, the activity took exactly 20 minutes to set up. It’s worth spending the time, when creating such activities to make them easily replicable with another class or site. In the past I’ve done this activity as a series of clues to guide children to the next place in the school grounds. This removes the need for a map but does make the activity site specific.
Finally, for those practitioners interested in geocaching and its application to trails in school grounds, then have a look at this post by Jen Deyenberg. It’s a lovely way of enhancing a hunt using gps and talking tins.