Friday, 23 April 2010

Treasures within reach - the children investigate

Here’s what happened.

We were invited by Centru L-iSperanza’s coordinator- Earl- to organize an environmental treasure hunt at Wied il-Għasel for children aged 6-11.

So we were faced with this challenge- how can you combine the environment, science, fun and hiking?

The first thing that we did was to go to the valley- a beautiful valley cutting across Mosta. Simone, Joseph and myself went for a hike one Sunday afternoon to check what we can come up with and what plant species are present there.

Our hike didn’t occur without some mishaps:

For example…this is me with my hair caught up in bramble (a thorny, climbing plant):

…while this is Simone who has just tripped over reeds:

OK! We were done! We got the idea and it was time to put it all together.

This is what we did. We took 18 plant species from around the valley. For each plant species we prepared a paper. This paper would serve as the clue for the hikers. In the paper will be the name of the plant, a simple question about this plant the answer of which the children had to insert in a crossword and a practical activity that the children had to do. For example for one tree in particular, we asked what color were the flowers and we asked the children to cut two leaves from this tree and place in a sampling bag.

The paper was placed in an envelope and attached to the plant/tree in question. This we did for two groups- an orange and a purple group (we tried to avoid political colors ;-) ).

So now we had 18 floral specimens with 36 envelopes (2 groups) attached to them.

And the day arrived. Simone, Joseph and myself met an hour and a half before the group of children had to meet us. We went around the valley tying the clues in the envelopes to the different trees and plants:

This is me attaching a balloon to a reed for one of the practical activities as discussed above:

….AND THE GROUP ARRIVED…..the children, many of them with their parents, armed with caps, notebooks and lunch surrounded us and the cheer of enthusiasm could be heard ringing in that silent Sunday hum of that early morning.

We divided the group into two according to age. The young group was entrusted to Simone while I took the other group with slightly older children. We briefed them on what will happen during the hike:


One by one they found the hanging clues, opened the envelopes, answered the questions and did what was required of them. It is good to point out that this was NOT a competition and the ‘winner’ didn’t get any reward.

One of the practical activities instructed the children to draw a leaf from a tree so as to appreciate and look closer at the shape and intricacies of something they always took for granted:

The two groups rambled across the pathways bordered by flowers and a huge variety of plants in that gorgeous spring morning:

And the children’s curiosity had us answering question after question about all sorts of things:

A deserved lunch break was enjoyed in the shade of a carob tree while the children were careful not to drop any wrappers among the plants they were starting to understand:

And after two and a half hours the hike ended. The children, although tired and weary, were still running after each other, eating their last pieces of sandwiches and engaging with us on some point they missed out during the hike.

Joseph supported us throughout the hike, engaging with children and capturing these photos. He also took it upon himself to clean the place:

But that was not all. Earl invited us to walk to Centru l-iSperanza and ask the children some questions on their experiences and the lessons they learned. We opened the sampling bag and we explained some features of the local flora- its adaptation to water stress, its modifications to deter herbivores etc.

And thus the activity ended. We might have gone through a lot of hassle to organize this hike but it was worth it. Perhaps these young citizens will grow up and stand up for the beauty that is around them. Perhaps they will teach their children that we are surrounded by untold splendor.


  1. You are all so creative! Well done! I'm really happy you also have activities for the younger ones! Congrats.

  2. Not sure what happened to my first post but just wanted to say-what a heart warming experience this is-wish I could have been there-Looks such good fun.