A few weeks ago, Philip Hensley (ANR Agent, Spalding County) and I staffed an exhibit about the Georgia MGEV Program at an event held at UGA’s Research and Education Garden here in Griffin. The event was promoted as a family event, so I wanted to offer an assortment of educational materials and activities to engage visitors at our booth.
As I brainstormed what might be of interest to families visiting the gardens and that also presented information about the MGEV program, I thought of our MG SPROUTS materials. We have several take-home newsletters that share about the MGEV program and Extension, as well as link to several nice Extension publications. I prepared copies of two newsletters as well as the accompanying journal sheets. I knew children visiting our booth could use the journal sheets as they wandered through the garden to other booths.
I thought of seed-sowing activities, but lacked all of the supplies. I thought of pot painting and other plant-related crafts, but didn’t have the energy for the mess. Yet, I still wanted something interactive.
Games! Yes, that was the ticket! I gathered a set of the memory cards that goes along with SPROUTS. Those are fun for young children. Then I flipped through my Junior Master Gardener materials. In the Wildlife Gardener materials, I found the pieces to create a game board and playing cards. Perfect!
I made a color copy of the game board (so that I would not destroy my book). I then laminated it so that it would be more sturdy and weather-proof (one never knows if a shower might come along). We printed the game cards onto colored cardstock, and I copied the answer key. I found a few plastic insects in my SPROUTS box, so I used those for game pieces. Voila! A reasonably-priced game for the booth.
We had such a good time playing that game! Parents and children engaged, asked questions, and even learned some new vocabulary. I wished that I had made two copies of the cards and added in an “advance to the finish” card or two. The game might feel like it never ends if you get one or both of the “return to start” cards!
So, if you have an upcoming fair or show where you are staffing an Extension booth, consider a game such as this. It is inexpensive and easy to create. It can be used over and over again with audiences of all ages and is a great way to engage people. Enjoy!