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Calendar >  Scavenger Hunt in the Garden

Scavenger Hunt in the Garden

By   /  February 15, 2016  /  No Comments


How do you motivate kids to appreciate nature? Farmer Jones has the answer. This past Saturday she motivated 15 youngsters, 13 parents, and the  3 reporters for thevistapress.com. It was the second Saturday of the month and it was the monthly held “Kids in the Garden” class.

But first we had to sing a song. Make that two songs. The first song was about a gray squirrel with a big bushy tail and the word acorn was two syllables. Farmer Jones, aka Nancy B. Jones, led the singing with her hand puppet which was a brown squirrel. Oh don’t worry, her bright eyed students quickly called her on it. When the singers got to the part where the squirrels tail was mentioned they put their hands behind them and waved their hands to imitate the bushy tail of a squirrel. The next song was a long time school favorite, “Eyes, Ears, Nose and Toes”.

Photos by Mary Murphy &   Philippe Carre     www.bountyphotographie.com

Now we were ready for the featured program, a scavenger hunt in the garden. Yes, a scavenger hunt that was actually a thinly disguised nature class. Farmer Jones handed out pre-printed sheets with a list that included; butterfly, bird, spider web, bug, flower, green leaf, brown leaf, ant tree bark, and fern. Four special items that are unique to the Alta Vista Botanical Gardens were also on the list. Three sculptures, Triceratops, Giraffe, and the brand new Serpent plus a cotton plant were on the list. Farmer Jones and other major donors have purchased sections of this multi-piece sculpture. It’s rumored that Vista Mayor Judy Ritter purchased the Serpent’s tail.

Rules. Every game has rules and this one was no different. First, we could not “collect” any of these items on the list. We were just supposed to find and observe as many of the listed items as possible. The second rule Farmer Jones issued was the Garden’s safety rule, “No Running!” This rule is the hardest of all especially on a beautiful day in the outdoors.

Leaving behind the Children’s Garden and the Lowes Pavilion the small safari slowly made our way down the trail into the other garden areas. Stops were frequent as we spotted the sought after items and even saw other sights that weren’t on the list. There was a group photo taken at the Lower Pond that is almost entirely covered with lily pads.

Continuing down the trail into the lower gardens we passed the somber faced replicas of the Easter Island Moai statues. These stone guardians are as mysterious as the real ones that have puzzled visitors and scholars to Easter Island for centuries. Just below these statues we came to the Giraffe sculptures. The two metal animals look very lifelike despite their rusty patina.

All the way to the bottom we went. Large shady trees provided a nice place to take a break and an opportunity for Farmer Jones to open her “Treasure Chest”. What do you find in a nature teacher’s treasure chest? Oh just simple thing like a real honey comb, a skull, and a deer’s hoof. These and the other treasures were passed around with lots of questions and discussions.

Heading on North we came upon other sights, like the Agave sculpture and the Medicine Wheel in the desert garden. Many succulents were blooming along the trail. Passing through the large desert garden and starting back up hill we found the Raptor sculptures and the mighty Triceratops sculpture. And always we saw the flora around the trails including something I had never before seen, a trailing wild cucumber. The green spiky fruit on this plant look alien. Lots of birds call the gardens home and of course so do insects.

The youngsters quickly learned to be observant and take in the beauty of this place. On their way to becoming amateur naturalists these kids had learned a lot in a short time. So had the rest of our group including our publication’s photojournalist, the Butterfly (aka Philippe from Bounty Photographie)

To find out more about the Alta Vista Botanical Garden and the “Kids in the Garden” classes check out the web site at: http://www.altavistagardens.org/


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