Scavenger Hunt – Early Elementary (PEEC)
Participants will learn about the elk and other wild animals with a scavenger hunt. The instructor will lead the hunt, providing information and then ask a riddle about what they learned. The exhibits are hands-on so participants can feel, see and hear aspects of Arkansas wildlife.
K - 4
Indoor: Ponca Elk Education Center
Ponca Elk Education Center, Ponca, AR
Education Program Coordinator, 870-861-2432
30 - 45 minutes
Suggested Number of Participants:
Up to 25
- Learn important information about wildlife in Arkansas.
- Experience, through touch and sound, some common characteristics of Arkansas wildlife.
*See glossary for definations
Exhibit stamps (one per exhibit, carried by the instructor)
Stamp pad (carried by the instructor)
Exhibit scavenger hunt stamp collecting sheets (class set)
Arkansas elk habitat is filled with many different and interesting kinds of wildlife and geologic formations.
- Give each participant an exhibit scavenger hunt stamp-collecting sheet, explaining that while learning interesting information at the exhibit stations, they will also be going on a scavenger hunt for stamps.
- Tell them they will be visiting seven stations. Encourage them to touch (where permitted), look and listen to what is available.
- Caution them to not touch the mounted animals because they cannot grow the hair that is removed by touch.
- Take them to station 1, cow/calf display. Provide them with the following:
- Elk calves are born during May and June.
- Calves are born with spots for camouflage and have very little scent.
- When they are born, the calves weigh about 35 pounds.
- The mother is called a cow and can weigh more than 500 pounds, standing 4 1/2 feet at the shoulder.
- Elk have large ears that rotate to hear noises.
The cow knows her calf by its high-pitched squeal.
- The cow will take a threatening posture and fight with sharp front hooves to defend her calf.
- Cows and calves do not have antlers.
- After the information is shared, ask them the riddle to collect their stamp: “I have these on my back when I’m a baby so I can hide in the grass for safety.” (Answer: calf spots)
- After someone in the group has answered the riddle, give everyone a stamp.
- Move to station 2, bio-facts display, and provide the following:
- Elk have “tusks” in the upper jaw. They look like teeth but are actually ivories and are valued for jewelry and decoration.
- Bulls can weigh more than 700 pounds and stand 5 feet at the shoulder. Their call is a bugle.
- The hide of an elk has two coats. One is a thin sleek summer coat and one is a long thick coat for winter. The long hairs are guard hairs and are hollow to make them warm and waterproof.
- Elk have antlers made of fast-growing bone that sheds every year. Some animals have horns that are hollow, slow growing and permanent, which means they never shed.
- The skull of the bull elk is larger than a cow’s and has bony bumps where the antlers grow.
- Ask the participants the riddle to collect their stamp: “I’m shiny and white but not a tooth. I’m found in the mouth and worth lots of loot.” (Answer: ivories)
- After someone has answered the riddle, give everyone a stamp.
- Move to station 3, bull display, and provide the following:
- A bull’s antlers display its fitness. They indicate to cows which bulls are healthier and stronger, and to other bulls, they intimidate and establish rank. They are used as weapons for dominance. A full-size rack weighs approximately 40 pounds.
- Elk antlers have a protective covering while growing called velvet. In the fall, the velvet dries up and begins to itch, so the bull rubs his antlers on trees to scratch it off.
- Elk eat lots of grasses and bushes quickly, then hide and lay down to chew their cud (digest their food).
- Ask the riddle, “My antlers itch, itch, itch and no fingers to scratch with! What do I do? (Answer: rub them on a tree)
- After the riddle has been answered, give everyone a stamp.
- Move to station 4, Arkansas black bear display, then share the following:
- These bears share habitat with elk. They eat acorns, berries, plants, honey, insects and meat.
- A bear will raid a beehive for honey but will eat the hornets from a hornet’s nest.
- Bears have long claws for climbing trees and digging for food.
- They will turn over logs and rocks looking for food.
- Bears are shy but are dangerous if they feel threatened.
- It is important never to feed bears.
- Ask the riddle, “A buzzing home made of paper, admiring from afar would be much safer. To a bear, it holds a tasty treat.” (Answer: hornet’s nest)
- Move to station 5, birding area, and share the following:
- There are more than 380 species of birds in Arkansas.
- Different birds have different nests. (Show the display with different types of nests.)
- Birds eat differently. The ground, raised platforms, hanging bird feeders or a tree trunk with suet are good places to feed birds because they will meet the different feeding needs of many different birds.
- Birds travel for changes in climate and food sources. This is called migration.
- Field guides are used to identify species of birds and learn about their behavior, habitat and calls.
- Binoculars are used to observe and to make identification easier.
- Ask the riddle, “Our numbers are great, for such a small state. How many species of birds are there in Arkansas?” (Answer: more than 380)
- Move to station 6, geology display, and share the following:
- Bluffs are made of limestone.
- Chert is a rock that was used by Native Americans to make arrowheads and tools.
- Fossils are very old shells, plants and animals preserved in rock.
- Crinoids are fossilized marine animals that looked something like a plant. They are the most common fossils found in the Ozarks.
- Calamite is a fossilized horsetail, formed when the hollow plant filled with mud.
- Ask the riddle, “Most often you will see, in a rock a piece of me. I’m a treasure, no, not gold. It’s just that I’m very, very, old.” (Answer: crinoids)
- Move to station 7, skins, skulls and tracks display, and share the following:
- The shape of the teeth depends on what type of animal it is. For example, predators (carnivores) have pointed, sharp canine teeth, while prey (herbivores) have flat, square teeth for eating plants.
- The position of the eye in the skull depends on what type of animal it is. Predators have eyes in front of their skull to allow for focus, while prey have eyes on the sides for a wider view to detect predators.
- Camouflage uses color and pattern to blend with surroundings for better hiding, for safety or for the hunt.
- Animals’ feet have adaptations to help with swimming, running, digging, grasping, etc. For example, a beaver has webbed feet, which allows for better swimming. The claws on a bobcat will retract, allowing for a quiet stalk along the forest floor, allowing it to sneak up on its prey.
- Ask the riddle, “I have teeth long and sharp for gnawing down trees. My feet are webbed and my tail flat for swimming with ease.” (Answer: beaver)
- Encourage exploration of other things in the room, which will give them information in a fun, interactive way.
Which part of the exhibit area is your favorite? Why?
Antler – fast-growing bony structure shed each year from the head of an adult male deer or elk, female caribou and other cervid; frequently branched with multiple points
Bugle – scream made by bull elks during the rut (breeding season) to assemble cows or to warn other bulls
Camouflage – colors, tones, patterns, shapes or behavior an organism uses to blend with its surroundings; also concealment that alters or obscures the appearance; also protective coloration, a common animal defense
Carnivore – any animal that consumes other animals that are living (predation) or dead (scavenging)
Field guide – an illustrated manual sized for carrying which identifies natural objects, flora and fauna
Fossil – a trace, impression or the remains of a plant or animal of a past geologic age preserved in the earth’s crust
Guard hairs – long coarse hairs that protect the undercoat
Herbivore – a plant eating animal
Horn – permanent, unbranched bony core covered by a thin layer of keratin atop the head of several mammals; usually grown by both sexes and usually has a yearly “ring” that marks the animal’s age
Ivories – remnants of tusks in the front of the elk’s upper jaw; also called buglers, canines or whistlers