Private Eye

This activity is part of an interdisciplinary curriculum called The Private Eye, which encourages students to closely analyze an object using a magnifying lens and then relate the object to something else based on its intrinsic qualities.

  1. Ages: 5 - 11

  2. <30 minutes

  3. A little messy


Materials you'll need

Step-by-step tutorial

  • Step 1

    First, I encouraged my son to look for objects outside. He picked an acorn off the ground and like a budding Sherlock Holmes, stared through the magnifying lens for quite some time. I wanted him to translate what he saw so I drew a circle on the paper and told him to draw what he was seeing.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 1

  • Step 2

    While the acorn looked more or less as it should, his thought process to make it so was quite unique. He said, "The acorn looks like a peanut. And the top part looks like really really tiny raisins. I see a bunch of lines."

    Photo reference of how to complete step 2

  • Step 3

    We tried this activity again with a dry leaf and the result was similar. He said, "Mom, it has a lot of lines and looks like the cracks on a sidewalk. It also kind of looks like a spider, or maybe a spider's web. Or rivers on a map." His train of thought was endless, but again he was taking what he knew to illustrate another idea. He was drawing these connections, and though they might not have been the first things that came to my mind, I understood his reasoning.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 3

  • Done!

    After he described the leaf, he was off looking at other little tidbits. And whether or not we verbalized the activity, I could see him going through a similar thought process each time. This was the point of the activity: to find meaning in things beyond face value.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 4

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