Family was all around and conversation turned to the car my youngest son drove.  I knew the make of the car and the color.  That was pretty impressive for me!  But then, a cousin asked if it had two or four doors.  Sounds like a simple enough question, yet I paused…I didn’t know the answer.  My gaze shifted to the people listening, I took a deep breath and made a declarative answer.  Yes, it has four doors.  Pretty satisfied with myself, another cousin leaned over and whispered, “you’re not sure though are you?”  Busted!  I had no clue as to how many doors my son’s car had. 
Upon investigation when returning home, guess what?  It had only two doors! 
So much for my great powers of observation.
The powers of natural observation do not come naturally to everyone.  Knowing this, it is important to provide activities for children to develop this valuable life skill. Not to mention the fact that these type of activities are fun with an added bonus of  stimulating intellectual development.
 Having a keen sense of observation is valuable in most jobs and careers helping individuals become more competent, productive employees who make a more significant contribution to the business. 
On a personal level, the power of observation helps individuals become more sensitive to others around them, making them more thoughtful and helpful.  It is also a skill that can be used to make an individual more safe in a world of many threats and dangers.

Getting started…how to increase your observation skills:

1.  Actively listen when you are in conversation with others.  Use your eyes as well as your ears. 
     Watch body language and eye movements.
2.  Use your five senses.
  • Ears: be alert to all the different sounds and voices around you. Listen to the “tone” of your environment.
  • Eyes: scan your surroundings whenever you enter a new place or first come into a room.  Notice differences from the last time you were in the room, people’s behavior and placement of objects wherever you are.
  • Nose: how many different smells can you identify?  An odd smell could reveal a bigger story (for example:  what’s for dinner, who just finished working out, if the gas burner was not turned completely off, etc.)
  • Touch:  know the mood of people. For example, a person’s hands are cold and sweaty when shaking hands with them.  This could be an indicator of being nervous.  Pay attention if something is hot or cold, rough or smooth.  Recently I turned off a light and the switch plate was hot to the touch.  Investigation revealed a switch going bad.
Here are some jump-start questions to get your observation skills moving.
These questions can be altered to fit your situation. 
                 Have you noticed?

              How many windows or doors do you have in your house?

             How many things in your house plug in?

             Whose picture is on the one, five and twenty dollar bill?

             What picture is on a penny, nickel, dime or quarter?

             What color is the shirt your brother/sister is wearing today?

            Was your mom (or any person) wearing jewelry today?  What kind?

            What color is your mom/dad’s (any person) eyes?

           What color hair did the check-out clerk have at the store?
           Did they wear a wedding ring?

          What color is your neighbor’s car? house?

          Do you have any flowers blooming in your yard?

         Which sock or shoe do you put on first?

          If you fold your hands, which thumb do you put on top? 
         Does your mom/dad, brother/sister have the same thumb on top?

         If you cross your legs, which leg goes over the other?  Look at other people? 
        Do they cross their legs the same as you? 
       After speaking to someone, ask yourself these questions:
        1. What color was their hair and eyes?
        2.  Were they wearing jewelry?  If so, what?  Did they wear a wedding ring?
        3.  What color was their shirt?
        4.  What kind of shoes were they wearing?
        5.  Were they wearing glasses?
       If you don’t know, start asking these questions while you are talking to them. 

     The Game of Eye Spy

      Children may also enjoy a game of “Eye Spy“.  This can be played anywhere and is great  
     for places when “I’m bored” tends to become a reoccurring theme. Examples would be: waiting in
     line, driving, traveling, sitting at the doctor or dentist office, etc.
    To play:  one person is selected to be “it”.  They say:  “I spy, I spy something… name a color.” 
    Another version is to say:  “I spy with my little eye something… name a color”.  The other people
    playing take turns guessing what the person sees.  The person who is “it” must say if they are hot
    (close to the item) or cold (far away from the item).  The person who guesses the item gets to be
    “it” for the next round.


 Make a game of observation/investigation every day. 

It won’t be long before kids come up with their own ideas.

Once you try this activity, kids will make sure that you don’t forget to play again. 

The really neat thing about this activity is that it requires no materials,

 supplies or advanced preparation. 

Plus, you can do this activity anywhere,

for any length of time with any age person. 

How cool is that?

Can you think of other things to increase your observation skills?

This Blog Post is inspired from the book:
Miraculous, Magical Moments in Minutes:
Over 500 Quick, Easy Activities for Adults and Children to Share
by Becky B. Baxa
If you would like more fun ideas to share with your children
(that do not require batteries or electronics )
you can purchase this 180 page book,
full of color photos,
for $21.95
from or
from the gift shop at Shaw Nature Reserve in Gray Summit, MO,
Silver Dollar City General Store in Branson, MO.
This book can also be checked out of the following libraries:
Scenic Regional Library – Pacific, MO
First Christian Church – Washington, MO
Hawaii State Library – Honolulu, HI
Story City Public Library – Story City, IA
Ellsworth Public Library – Ellsworth, ME
Ludington Public Library – Ludington, MI

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