Children love to play detective with a magnifying glass. This simple, timeless piece of equipment is great for getting close up to the small things, not only outdoors, but the familiar aspects of daily life – the textures in a woven placemat on the kitchen table, or the different coloured threads in a teatowel. Children can use the things they see to inform their drawings and pattern-making. For real detective work, try taking fingerprints and seeing if you can find any on the surfaces at home. Draw them big and small, or in different colours.
Outside in the garden or the woods, you can use a magnifying glass to inspect insects and leaves, tree bark and pebbles. Take pictures of what you find and look them up, keep a record of your finds. Were they as you expected? How does size affect things, which is stronger, how quickly can something with no legs move? A magnifying glass can be a gateway to some pretty big maths questions, and a window on the natural life that’s just outside your door.