We got new living room carpet yesterday and it reaffirmed something I’ve noticed about my family lately. We need to take more time to look closely, notice details, and develop our powers of observation.
The carpet isn’t particularly relevant, but the way my boys looked at the carpet is.
When they were little guys, they spent a ton of time on the living room carpet picking at strands of it and drawing pictures with their fingers. If you have carpet, your kids probably did too! When the carpet was installed yesterday, nobody really noticed anything except the new carpet smell. (Oh, and my middle son complained that the color was boring and we should have gone with something blue or green.) Now, I know my boys are way past those tummy-time days, and I really don’t care if they get down and look closely at the living room carpet. But it did make me think about how closely they examined things when they were littler and how little time they spend looking closely now.
Of course, it’s not just the kids. We could all stand to get better at the skill of looking closer!
When my sons were little they liked to…
- Look at one page of a book for a long time, examining every detail of the pictures.
- Look closely at the stitching on their stuffed animals.
- Read and re-read books over and over and over and over.
- Examine tiny pieces of lint on the floor.
- Study the bugs crawling on the sidewalk.
When kids are little, they take time to discover the world through observation, using all of their senses. Close observation is just as important for older kids. They need the skill of observation in science for making predictions and conducting scientific investigations. Capable readers know how to read a text closely, paying attention to meaning and purpose for thorough understanding. Good writers know how to convey their message with just the right details. Looking closely is the first step in critical and creative thinking.
Here are some home literacy resources to help your family take a bit of time out to notice the little things…
Take some extra time to notice the details in illustrations, look for text features like captions and charts, and think about the author’s purpose as you read. Look for books about an everyday object, something tiny or easily overlooked, or a book about observation. Here are a few to get you started. (Affiliate links)
- Why? by Lindsay Camp A great book to celebrate the questioning mindset that sparks close observation.
- Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal Use your keen powers of observation to determine whether you’re looking at a duck or a rabbit.
- Shadow, by Suzy Lee Notice how a shadow can become something exciting with a little observation and imagination.
- What Do People Do All Day, by Richard Scarry An wonderfully detailed book about the everyday things people do all day. (When I was little, I spent hours closely examining this book.) My boys also LOVE looking closely for Goldbug in Cars, Trucks and Things That Go.
Add some supplies for observational writing to your home writing area and inspire your child to notice and write about little details. The Close Up Collection is a set of printables with notecards and a writing booklet to encourage kids to write about their close observations.
Or just grab a notebook and turn it into an observation journal. Your child can fill it with drawings and writing about interesting objects.
During dinner or on the drive home from school this week, chat about any fascinating little details from the day. If you forgot to notice any, take a minute to study something closely. Perhaps the broccoli on your plate, or the back of your hand!
Or go on a hike. Nature has a way of inspiring close-up observation.
Need conversation ideas? The Close Up Collection also contains Think and Talk cards to get you started. Make it a daily challenge to notice a new little detail and share your observations!