We are very fortunate to have a garden at The Bridge. There are a handful of seniors that regularly venture outside to enjoy the natural beauty it offers. Occasionally, the staff invites a senior to join them on a walk around it if they note that they appear restless or have started to wander. One day last week, one of the seniors didn't want to do exercises and she did not want to sit and read or knit. She wanted "to do something different."
A few weeks earlier, I had printed out two sheets of cards for a botanical scavenger hunt. These, I thought, would be perfect for this senior. I knew her well enough to know that she would not just want to go on a quick walk, but would want to achieve a task while out in the garden. She enjoys organizing and sorting. Too, she likes order, so having to look and acquire specific items would be engaging for her.
I quickly cut the cards and placed them into envelopes. I thought envelopes could carry the paper cards and keep them in an organized fashion that would make them easy to retrieve and return. Having been in the Montessori classroom for so long, I must confess I wished that they had been laminated, but there is no laminator at The Bridge. We work with what we have and what we have is used in the moment.
I also grabbed a small, handled basket to use for the collected items. In a matter of minutes I was ready to invite the senior to join me on a scavenger hunt in the garden. She asked, "What kind of scavenger hunt?" I told her I needed some items for an art project later and that I needed someone to assist me in finding them. I then asked her if she could please help me in my task. "Ok, if you really need help I can do that." We were out the door and in the garden moments later. She carried the basket in one of her hands and I carried the envelopes with the paper cards.
Our first find was a leaf larger than our hand -
I pulled several of the paper cards from one of the envelopes and placed them on a nearby stone wall.
My companion picked them up and began identifying one item after another.
A mushroom growing on a tree or close to the ground:
A round stone:
A half hour later, we had collected or photographed most of the items noted on the cards. It was then that she looked into the basket, handed it to me and said, "OK, I helped you. Let's go back inside." It was a great activity. I confess, I really enjoyed the scavenger hunt and the time spent with the senior who "helped me."
The Alaska Bird Observatory has several other printables that are also excellent: http://www.alaskabird.org/?page_id=5689