Colour Scavenger Hunts

Have I seriously not written about this activity yet? I was wanting to show this to somebody and was looking for the blog post I was sure I’d written about it, but alas it didn’t exist. Ok, it’s pretty similar to leaf pounding, which I did write about, but still…

The activity in question if the Colour Scavenger Hunt. I mentioned it in my Fall-Winter-Winter-Fall post, but realized I haven’t really explained it. The original inspiration for this idea is from a booklet of lesson plans called Into Nature, which has lots of good, short and relatively easy lessons to help teachers get students outside. The lesson which inspired this one is called Rainbow Chips. As you can tell by my title for the lesson, it’s a scavenger hunt where we look for colours. Each kid (or pair of kids) gets a set of colour chips like these:


Yes, I went and raided the local paint/hardware stores for paint chip cards. Each set of cards ended up being slightly different (though I did ensure I had a range of similar colours in each), but that actually lends itself well to keeping kids occupied who finish quickly – you just get them to trade for another set of colour chips. The names of the paint colours are often quite entertaining and I’ve been surprised at how the kids sometimes get distracted by them (sometimes it narrows the scope of what they’re looking for if the paint colour name is something specific – for example, if it was called grassy green, they’d start to only look at the grass for green and not all of the other green plants). It also surprises me, though, how the kids are able to find colours that adults might not have noticed – the purple edges on some stems or leaves, tiny red buds on branches… I’ve done this activity in all seasons, and they always manage to find at least most of the colours.

I generally do this lesson with Kindergarten classes (though the older kids in Garden Club and EcoCamp have loved it too). I start with a book called Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert and a brief discussion about colours in nature. Then we head outside to do the scavenger hunt. Before starting, I lay out a few ground rules, as we will be collecting pieces of the plants from our garden – only pick from healthy plants (which can handle losing a few leaves), don’t pick the fruits that we’ll eat (like tomatoes, peppers…) or the blossoms that will turn into fruits we’ll eat (which sounds sort of complicated, but they mostly get it), and make sure you’re gentle with the plants. I usually have a few baskets around the garden for kids to pick things into.

Then comes the magical part! Using the colour from the plant parts we’ve found for either colouring/drawing or for leaf pounding. But just rubbing the plant parts on paper, you get colour! It’s pretty amazing! That in itself is pretty cool (and fun to see their reactions when I demonstrate), but what else is neat is that the colours often don’t show up the same on paper as they were in the plant, so you never really know what colour you’re going to get. With the Kindergarten classes, I’ve kept with the rainbow theme of the book and we’ve coloured in rainbow colouring sheets with our found objects. With older kids, I often just give them blank paper and let them get creative. They’ve created some pretty neat pictures.


Happy growing (and colouring)!




4 responses to this post.

  1. That’s a really creative and fantastic extension on “Rainbow Chips” (thanks for giving our teachers guide a shout-out:). The photo of nature’s pastels (leaves, etc.) and colours on the rainbow is very inspiring – keep up your great work!

    Cheers, Bill


  2. Using plant parts as color is a great idea and a good inspiration for kids to love plants. I love your way of teaching because you just didn’t teach them in a regular way. Besides you let them be creative. Best of luck with your work.


  3. Thanks again for your positive feedback! Do you work with something similar?


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