Thursday, August 6, 2009

Wild Senses at Teatown Lake Reservation

Can you believe it? I forgot my camera! I almost never do that. Oh, well, this will just be text, no pictures, which is a shame, because Teatown is a lovely place, especially by the Lake...

This was a really fun program about the five senses, and how animals use them to survive. Maggie, the Teatown volunteer educator, was terrific. They started off talking about TOUCH, and how raccoons feel around underwater for frogs, mussels, crayfish, etc. to eat. Maggie had the kids reach into a pillowcase (without looking) and try to identify the object inside by feel. There was a seashell, a rubber frog, and a pine cone. They also talked about how animals use whiskers to tell if a space is to small, and about using touch to navigate at night.

For HEARING, they talked about how big stand-up ears help funnel sound into the ear, and used their hands to make deer ears, comparing how the sound changed with hands cupping ears and without. Then they played a fun game, where we made a circle of "tres", and one child within the circle is blindfolded and acts as a "bat". Another child inside the circle is a "moth", moving around to avoid the bat. The bat calls out "Bat!" at will, and the moth must respond "Moth!" the bat tries to follow the sound to tag the ever moving moth. While bats may use echolocation, in the case of the kids, it was more like gigglelocation! They played a second hearing game, where each child was given a plushie bird that makes a bird call. The birds were concealed in socks, and the kids had to listen to their bird and then listen to all the others to try to locate a mate. Mikro had a bluejay.

Next, for SIGHT, they talked about simple and compound eyes, and looked through kaliedoscopes to get an ida of what an insect sees. Then they talked about binocular vision and depth perception, and tried out binoculars. They examined a hawk's skull, and learned that if hawks could read, they would be able to read a newspaper 100 yards away.

For TASTE, they played a game without food, due to allergy concerns (which totally impressed me, as usually I am the one who has to tell my kid he can't do the food activities because of his allergies!) They talked about what foxes eat and how as pups, they learn to eat solid food by watching their parents. Then they played a game in which they had to walk back and forth collecting colored cards which represented different foods. (They were not told what the colors meant until later.) Brown cards were mice and small rodents. Red meant berries. Purple was grapes. Yellow and black stripes were bees. Blue was water. Black and white stripes was a skunk. Green was grass. Yellow and green stripes was a caterpillar. Orange and black stripes was a monarch butterfly. Brown and green was a poisoous toad. They then figured out if they had had a successful hunt by gathering things a fox would need to stay alive, or if they only found things they couldn't eat or that would make them sick.

For SMELL, they also adapted the game, since it was played outdoors and odors would have dissipated. A trail was marked with dashes of flour, and the kids had to pretend to be following a scent trail. They talked about how ants use pheremones to lay scent trails, directing colony members to food.

The trail ended at the boardwalk overlooking the lake. We hung out there afterwards, eating a picnic lunch and watching swans, ducks and dragonflies.

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