Sometimes the best education can be from sitting and watching something. You will see how it works by watching it move and seeing what it does. Watching wildlife is the same way. All we as humans know about the creatures around us is from watching and observing what they do. You can begin to show girls the world around them at a young age by earning the Watching Wildlife Try-It. To earn this Try-It, girls must complete 4 activities. Because these are done outside, you can do this on a camping trip or spend a day outside as a troop. It does not need to be done in the woods to find good things to observe. You can do this practically anywhere.
1. Ant Adventure
Too many times, ants are not our favorite creatures. Some of them can bite and some of them like to flood our house and find crumbs to eat up. They are typically annoying to humans for these reasons. However, they are just doing what they know how to do. So, for this activity, you can observe the creatures doing what they do and helping them along. Each ant has its own specific job in the colony. We are going to study the food gathering kind. You will need some different types of crumbs for this activity. The girls can look for ants in the crack of a sidewalk or in the grass. They will need to set down some crumbs near the ant and see what happens. This will take some time to complete because after the ant gets the crumb, will it go back and find friends? Or do you think the ants have a keen sense of smell that they can smell the crumb and all come to it. Before you know it, the crumb will be covered in ants. But, then try to lay out different types of crumbs and see if they like certain crumbs more than others. Watch and see if they take a piece and travel back to their home with it to share with others.
2. Animal Talk
Animals use their bodies and voices to communicate. You know a dog is happy when their tail wags. What does it mean when a goose flaps their wings? Pick an area and observe some of the wildlife to see if they use their bodies or voices to communicate and try to figure out what they are trying to communicate. You will need to sit still and be away from where the animals are so they aren’t scared of you. This again will take some time and patience but if after awhile, you aren’t finding out anything, check books and the computer for information about your local wildlife.
3. Animal Architects
Animals need shelter just like we do. Sometimes they have to search for things to make their homes. A lot of times in Spring, I see birds flying around carrying string or other strange objects through the air to make their nests. Give the birds and other creatures in your area so building materials for their home by completing this activity. Gather some string, cloth scraps, paper scraps, hair from a hairbrush, and other tiny things like this and set out on a tray. You may not be able to obsevere the creatures coming and selecting their materials because it will take them so time to find it, but you can check back in a few days and see if there are some things missing. You will then know that those items are now in someone’s new home. It is best to do this in Spring since that is when the creatures are getting ready for their babies.
4. Earthworm Observations
This activity is best done after a rain when you can find the worms up and crawling around above ground. If not, you can always buy some from fishing stores. These are interesting creatures because they just look like one long piece of string. You can’t really tell which end is the head and which is the tail. Now, to some girls and maybe even yourself, the worms can be something yucky or gross! You need to help them overcome this by working on this activity. Make sure everyone washes their hands very good when they are finished handling the worms. Each worm you work with will need a wet paper towel. Paper towels give a nice white background so you can see what is going on and it needs to be wet because the worms will die without the moisture. Place the worm on the towel and see if you can find the head. Lightly touch the earthworm’s back and belly. Can you feel a difference? If you have a magnifying glass, can you look and see the difference? Shine a flashlight on the head end and the tail end and observe what happens. Do you think they can see light? After you are finished observing the worms, make sure they get put somewhere on or near soil so they can get back into a moist environment.