Recently my work life and social life converged in the form of a MOMS club of southern Delaware field trip to the James Farm Ecological Preserve. Karen Knight, a 9-year teacher with the CIB’s James Farm Middle School Education Program led me, my 1-year old son, Jack, 9 of his preschool friends and their moms on a scavenger hunt.
We followed the red trail down to the beach and quickly checked leaves of several colors, a Y-shaped tree branch, and moss off our list. We took a little break before venturing onto the beach with only 3 things left on our scavenger list: a spider, an insect, and animal tracks.
About halfway down the beach we were able to check off insect when we found some tiny flies buzzing around a horseshoe crab molt. Karen showed us how to tell the difference between a dead horseshoe crab and a molt (a molt will have an opening at the back where the crab slithered out) and told us horseshoe crabs shed their shells multiple times in their first year and then annually after that.
Further down the beach we came across some dog prints, but there was some discussion among the kids as to whether that counted as an ‘animal’ track so we kept on searching, this time for wild animal tracks. Finally, at the far end we found a lone raccoon print. The kids speculated that the raccoon was at the water washing his paws before dinner, I suspect it had more to do with trying to catch his dinner.
We took a break from the scavenger hunt to try to catch some fish with a net but came up empty handed. The kids all wanted to try their hand at the net but the moms thought we should leave that up to Mrs. Karen as it was a little cold for swimming and these preschoolers are far from trustworthy around water!
As we left the beach and headed back onto the trail we found the elusive last item on our list, a spider! We had been searching for a spider for an hour and suddenly there were several daddy long legs climbing around a tree. For the next 15 minutes the kids passed the spiders around while the moms tried to keep warm. With the scavenger hunt completed the trip back to the parking lot was mostly a loud run, good thing there weren’t any animals on our scavenger hunt. (I think it’s safe to say we would have scared them away!)
All in all, the moms, babies, toddlers and preschoolers alike had a great time enjoying the outdoors and learning while they were at it! Many thanks to Karen for preparing such an age appropriate lesson for the little ones!
Want to go on your own James Farm scavenger hunt?
Check out our free printable scavenger hunts over at our Stuff for Kids page!