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Learning About Wetlands at Muddy Boots!

Gavin Hiscock, Education Intern

Ducks Unlimited grade 4 field trips at Muddy Boots Outdoor Learning Center in Florenceville are designed to teach kids about wetlands in a fun and creative way! Interactive teaching methods help the students remember what they’ve learned because they are having a blast while doing it. At the end of each trip, we always ask the students, “what was your favorite part and what did you learn?” Often times they say, “I don’t know…” but when we give them hints such as, “what is the main bird of the marsh?” then we hear all of them shouting, “red-winged blackbird!”

Students arriving at Muddy Boots

Our most popular and most hands-on activity would have to be Critter Dipping. During this activity, each kid gets a net and a small container of water. Then they are sent out to the shores of the wetland (not going over their ankles in the water!) to catch some critters! Once they catch a few critters, they can either search their nets themselves or bring them to us for help. Once they pick out the critters, they put them in their small containers and bring them over to our portable aquarium. We can all see what we caught at the end and teach them about all the critters. By the end of it the kids are having so much fun, they don’t want to leave! But luckily for them, they all get their very own kit with a net to take home so they can go critter dipping whenever they want.

A little snail!
Identifying critters in our portable aquarium

Our other two activities are wetland games and birdwatching. We normally follow critter dipping with wetland games because the kids are full of energy with all the excitement from catching cool creatures…so running around is perfect for them! Our games consist of Wetland Values and Migration Headache. Wetland Values is a game where they have multiple items in a bin, and we read from a cue card that matches an item in the bin. They then proceed to have a race, running – while acting out an animal – to put the items in the bin. They learn so much about wetlands without even realizing it! At the end of the game, we ask them little quiz questions and most of them remember what they learned. Migration Headache is a game that has hula-hoops set up on two sides and each hula-hoop represents a wetland. While our “birds” migrate, we start to add or remove wetlands depending on the scenario that happens that year. For example, perhaps there was an oil spill that took out two of the five wetlands which means there is less room for all of our birds. This game teaches them about how to maintain a healthy population, why it is important to preserve our wetlands and the struggle our birds go through annually just trying to get back home.

Wetland Values – running while acting like a goose!

To end everything, we do our final activity which is bird watching. This is like a cool down activity which allows them to rest and be quiet so we can see all these really cool birds and teach them all about them. Every kid gets their own pair of binoculars and we teach them how to focus them. Then we all sit down together and are super quiet. As we see birds, we teach them about the species, how males are different from females, their role in the bird world and lots of other cool facts. This is tied for my favourite activity. Birds are such cool and pretty animals and all of them are so different from others. After birdwatching we quiz the kids on what they learned, give out our field trip kits for them to take home, and say our good-byes. That is a Muddy Boots field trip with Falls Brook Centre!

Birdwatching
Red-winged blackbird, commonly seen at Muddy Boots

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