Un-Nature Trail and Birds and Worms (FBCEC)

Summary:

Participants will test their observation skills while spotting objects along a trail that do not belong in nature. This activity will be paired with Birds and Worms, a Project Learning Tree (PLT) relay game that reinforces the concept of camouflage.

Grade Level:

Pre K - 6

Recommended Setting:

Outdoors

Outdoor Activity:

No

Location:

Fred Berry Conservation Education Center, Yellville, AR

Contact:

Education Program Coordinator, 870-449-3484

Duration:

45 minutes - 1 hour

Suggested Number of Participants:

Up to 15

Special Conditions:

Weather permitting

Objectives:

  • Learn to closely observe surroundings.
  • Recognize how important camouflage is to organisms.
  • Participate in an educational outdoor game requiring physical activity.

Key Terms*:

Camouflage

Hiking etiquette

*See glossary for definations

Materials:

10 to 15 un-natural items
List of items placed along the trail
Materials for Birds and Worms:
  • Three colors of rotini noodles (red, yellow and green)
  • Small plastic bags for collecting “worms” (one bag per relay team)
  • Cones for defining play area

Background:

Camouflage is coloring or patterns that animals use to blend with surroundings. Camouflage can protect from predators or enable predators to go undetected, increasing the chances of capturing food. People who enjoy hunting or watching wildlife are challenged with spotting camouflaged creatures. A few observation techniques and a little practice can increase a person’s spotting skills. Hikers should obey etiquette when on trails or doing other outdoor activities.

Procedure:

  1. Participants may briefly describe their experiences from walking along a nature trail. Ask what things they saw. Explain how careful and quiet observation can enrich nature trail experiences.
  2. The participants should very quietly follow you along a short trail, looking around at interesting things. In addition, they should look for items that don’t belong (shoe, package of food, small appliance or utensil, etc.) You will have planted un-natural items at various locations near the path.
  3. Participants should keep count (silently) of the items. No pointing or discussing.
  4. When the hike is finished, poll participants about the numbers and kinds of items they spotted. Discuss why some items may have been easy to see while others were more difficult. Lead participants to describe “camouflage” and talk about its benefits to animals. 
  5. Discuss tips for spotting wildlife:
    • Choose your season.
    • Learn the feeding habits of your quarry. Use binoculars.
    • Move slowly and quietly.
    • Watch for movement or shapes that seem out of place.
    • Look for animal signs. Look in the right places.
    • Use field guides.
    • Enjoy wildlife at a distance.
  6. Discuss trail etiquette. (See participant information sheet.)
  7. Inform the group that they will be playing a relay game called Birds and Worms. The relay runners will be “birds” searching for colored rotini noodles (the “worms”) in the grass. Play according to the lesson description from the Project Learning Tree curriculum guide.

Review:

  • Discuss the importance of camouflage for animals that live in the wild.
  • Explain ways to detect camouflaged wildlife while hiking along a trail.

Resources:

Cornell, Joseph (1998). Sharing Nature with Children, DAWN Publications.

Participant Information Sheets:

Trail Etiquette

Glossary:

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

 
Hiking Etiquette – a set of outdoor ethics followed by conscientious hikers, including knowing where it is he/she is going, how long it will take for the hike, what equipment or other items will be needed while hiking, the layout of the area, the dangers that might be faced while hiking, and safety precautions to take for situations that could arise during the hike