Botanica Quest

13 Apr

Today we went on our first excursion for the term – to the Botanical Gardens for a Treasure Trail.

Treasure Trails are usually dumbed down to ensure no child is challenged or engaged – have you ever been to Museum trails?  That’s the kind of thing I was expecting.

But I was delightfully surprised and impressed with the Treasure Trail that was put together by the Education officer and her team at the Botanical Gardens.

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Each child was given a bag to keep and a clipboard and pencil to borrow.  Laid out on the table at the Information Centre was an assortment of tasks sheets.  We were encourage to select a range of tasks and to head out into the gardens to complete them.

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Amongst our tasks we collected seeds and leaves and identified them (with the expert help of the Garden’s staff), we attended to the sounds around us and listed them, we located, drew and identified bugs and informally measured various plants and trees.

Back at the Information Centre we worked with the staff to describe the tastes, textures and smells of the plants the staff had collected for us to experience.   We also had staff available to help us identify the sample seeds and leaves we had collected.

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We also observed the native bees, drawing on our previous knowledge of the bees to complete another task sheet.

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The staff also arranged several specimens for us to experience in the gardens – a mud wasp nest, a paper wasp nest (both vacant of course), several birds’ nests and a gorgeous rather large snake skin.  We had to identify these too.

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At the completion of each task the children had their work checked.  I appreciated that the staff didn’t baby the children or let them take shortcuts but they were fair, helpful and lovely.  Once the task was approved the children were given a voucher.  These vouchers could be used at the Treasure Trail Treasure Shop.   My little men earned 9 vouchers each during the morning and were thrilled with their shopping experience.

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This was the “BEST” treasure trail or hunt we’ve ever participated in.  A lot of thought, preparation and expertise went into the morning’s activities.

We had a stack of fun!!


Posted by on April 13, 2012 in Field Trips, Science


7 responses to “Botanica Quest

  1. Kirsji

    April 14, 2012 at 1:28 am

    OK, I am now green with envy! Iwould love to have something like that around here!

    We took a trip to our Botanical Gardens just a month ago and there were no challenging activities for the little ones. There were a few booths set up with questions to answer. The first one we stopped at had three jars of dirt – sand, clay, and soil. The lady asked us which one did not belong in our desert. Both my little ones pointed to the dark soil and sighed. They were bored!

    It is true that most museums and trail activities are dumbed down. I guess we wouldn’t want the kids to think too hard and crack their fragile brains!

    Of course, I live in Arizona, one of the worst states in the US for education … what more could I expect?

    • Tracey

      April 14, 2012 at 11:00 am

      I also think they often plan these kinds of events with preschoolers in mind as bigger kids probably don’t often attend. They forget about the homeschooled child who finds these sorts of events exciting. The education officer at our botanical gardens is wonderful and does a lot of things for our homeschool group. She’s also a school teacher so her focus is more on education than entertainment.

  2. JoAnn

    April 14, 2012 at 5:37 am

    Wow, that sounds like so much fun. I don’t think we have anything like that around us. So glad that you have things like that you can go to.

  3. Heidi Wilson

    April 14, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Hmmmm definitely going to have to check with the Botanical Gardens here in Sydney to see if they have anything similar. I have mentioned doing a guided tour of the gardens to our homeschool group several times but they don’t seem interested. The boys and I might just have to plan something on our own!! When I don’t waddle and can move properly again that is! 😉

    • Tracey

      April 14, 2012 at 2:39 pm

      You could organise your own as well. I’ve done this once. The gardens in Brisbane had a children’s walk but all it was was a path with notable features along the way. So I went there and created our own quest. At each numbered feature the children had to do a task – count the noturnal animals in the sign, do a bark rubbing, spy a number of animals as they walked along…that sort of thing. Another idea I had for that walk for older children was to give them a map and atlas (if necessary) and have them locate plants from as many countries around the world as possible. The Brisbane gardens identify the country of origin for each plant so it would be easy, yet still challenging at the same time. Actually this is something I’d like to do with my own boys once we’ve finished learning the countries of the world.

  4. Bernadette

    April 15, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    All our botanic gardens I’ve found so far in Perth, seem to be privately owned and charge a fortune to go in!! Though I imagine kings park will have something pretty spectacular. You may just have motivated me to check them out again 🙂 though we are still lacking a group, after our move to the hills :/ the six of us should be enough though ?

  5. Angelique

    April 16, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    You make it sound very exciting!!!! 😀 We are very blessed to have the facilities available, and the enthusiastic people of the friends of the gardens on the Gold Coast.


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