Nature Detectives

1 November 2010 · 5 comments

in Literacy Outdoors, Nature Play & Learning, Outdoor Play, Urban

A couple of months ago, Jenny over at Let the Children Play wrote a super post about spies. As a child, even in my teens, I loved codes, mysteries and the whole concept of spying.

Now completely unconnected to this, I gave my parents an environmental art calendar last Christmas. One of the photos was of a leaf, with a mathematical formula carefully etched into the leaf so that it could be seen when held up to the light.

Immediately the MI5 agent within me woke up and sprung into action. For a while now I have been experimenting with thorns, needles and leaves to see what would work and without much success most of the time.

Can you see the secret message? …Er no!

Most leaves were not the right consistency and would break, or would close up or would just be downright difficult when used in this way.

And then one evening, as I had nothing better to do, I thought I’d have a go with a cocktail stick and some of the large nasturtium leaves, from my own back garden.

Hey presto! The back of the leaves are a perfect etching surface. The leaf texture is soft so it’s a case of bruising the leaves. I think this would be a little too tricky for young children but an excellent challenge for older ones.

Next, the trick is to be able to hide the leaves so that only other spies can recognise it!

I’ve put a blue borage flower on the nasturtium leaf with the secret message

Sadly, I kept taking fuzzy photos of the leaf when held up to the light. So here’s another nasturtium leaf to give you an idea…

I think this idea has potential to be used in all sorts of fun and interesting ways. Not least, because, if you want to get rid of the evidence, you can eat the leaf! They do taste better young and fresh, though.

We Play

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Sherry and Donna November 1, 2010 at 11:38

Oooooooooh Juliet … I love this idea! Okay it may well be more of a challenge for younger children but I know a whole bunch of 5 year olds who are ALWAYS up for a challenge!!
Thanks for the irresistible idea!
Donna 🙂 🙂
http://www.playbasedlearning.coma.u

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(V.Kerr) School Time Adventures November 1, 2010 at 15:32

Oh my, I have never seen this done before. I am excited to see if this works for us with some of the green leaves still alive around here. Thanks!

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SquiggleMum November 2, 2010 at 12:45

Ooooh, this is kinda cool! I write messages on my daughter’s bananas in a similar way. Writing onto the skin with a skewer bruises the skin and it shows up later. I love the idea of extending this with her to leaves in our garden!

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Be A Fun Mum November 2, 2010 at 21:59

Man Alive. My kids would love this!!!

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Abbie November 5, 2010 at 18:15

This is so smart! Love this idea. Sam is still a little young for this but I am going to hang on to this idea for later.

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