I Spy Outside!

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I Spy Outside activities are a great way of encouraging kids to explore their environment, get fresh air and develop their observation and language skills.

The simplest "I Spy" activities do not need any equipment, can be played anywhere and adapted to develop different skills. Simple "I Spy" games need at least two players and involve turn-taking. They can be used to develop social and language skills.

How to play I Spy:

  1. Decide who will be the Spy first.

  2. The Spy picks an object that everyone can see, keeps it a secret but gives the first letter of the object as a clue.

    e.g. If the Spy choses a tree, they say;

    "I spy with my little eye something beginning with t."

  3. The players take turns to guess the object until someone guesses the right answer.

  4. Players take it in turns to be the Spy.

  • This game is easily adapted to develop different skills. Try playing:

    • "I hear with my little ear" to develop listening skills

    • "I spy with my little eye, something that is the colour e.g. red," to develop colour recognition skills

I Spy Outside!

This version of "I Spy" is more like a scavenger hunt.

What you need:

  • A checklist of things to spot

Check out the free, printable I Spy and I Spy template on the resources page. These have a My notes column that provides spaces to record more detail about objects spotted.

  • Pencil, crayon or pen to check off things spotted

Optional resources:

  • Clipboard to attach checklist to (this can be made out of stiff card and a paper-clip or bulldog clip)

  • String/yarn to attach a pen or pencil to the clipboard (this helps to stop it from getting lost)

  • A magnifying glass or viewing tube made from the a kitchen towel tube

  • Additional sheets of paper for drawing or writing notes on

  • A camera or digital advice to take photos

What to do:

  1. Collect together your equipment.

  2. Go outside and try to find all the things on your checklist. Tick each one off as you find it.

  3. If you want to, make your own notes about and drawings of the things you find.

  4. Have fun and remember that "I Spy" games can be played inside too!

Top tips:

If you are spotting living things remember that they are fragile and not used to being picked up.

  • Before you go on your I Spy hunt, think about which creatures should be left alone, e.g. bees and ants that may bite or sting.

  • Try to avoid picking creatures up.

  • If you pick creatures up, do it carefully using a bug pot and soft brush or a teaspoon and cup. Always put the creatures back where you found them.

I Spy activities can also be a great way of developing scientific understanding and geography and history skills.

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Be a science detective

Think about the living things you have found.

  • Where did you find them? (their habitats)

  • How do they move? Do they fly, wiggle, scuttle? Why do you think they move this way?

  • What do they look like? Do they have legs, wings, a tail?

  • Did you find the creatures in a group or on their own? Why do you think that is?

Be a history and geography detective

Think about the houses, roads, cars etc. you have found?

  • What are some of the similarities and differences between houses?

  • Why do you think the houses in one area are older than in another area?

  • Why do you think the shops are where they are?

  • Why do you think there is a bus stop there?

  • Why do you think there are more cars on this road?

  • What do you think this street might have looked like 5 years or 100 years ago?

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