Call of the Wild and
Fur, Feathers and Ferns
Den Meeting #1: Signs of Wildlife Hunt
For a gathering activity we learned the overhand and square knots (optional, so it doesn't matter if every boy has time to do this). I have failed at knot teaching with cub scouts twice, but I remembered having an easy time teaching knots as a teenager using colored rope, so I bought the colored paracord at Walmart to match the picture on the badge and it worked miracles! The boys loved it.
For the square knot, I showed them that it is essentially two loops stuck together, the trick is getting them together. Here is a wild animal story to help.
Square Knot Snake Story
step 1. make the red rope into a loop and hold it out in front of you, this loop will be the hole of the snake's den.
step 2. make the blue rope into a snake coming up out of the hole formed by the red loop.
step 3. have the snake slither under 2 sticks (these are the two ends of the red loop)
step 4. the snake is tired and goes back down into his hole, pull tight and you have a beautiful square knot!
Before the hike recite the outdoor code and the leave no trace principles.
1-mile hike around the pond to look for evidence of wildlife, birds, insects, mammals, and fish. Take a magnifying glass and look closely at small things like leaves or pill bugs. Take binoculars to look at things far away (optional).
I chose our local duck pond, because it was a place I knew for sure we would see fish, insects, and birds, I was hoping for squirrels, but no such luck. We saw Mallard ducks, black ducks, Rainbow trout, Grass Carp, two kinds of dragon flies, a praying mantis, found large spider webs, poop, tracks, and feathers as evidence of wildlife.
|Here is my new cub scout, my own son, yay!|
Den Meeting #2: Endangered Animal Day
Gathering: as each boy arrived he chose an endangered animal and taped a picture of it on himself. We told stories about our favorite animals. We also had the ropes out again to practice knots.
During our talk time I announced we would be going on a field trip and asked the boys how they would dress differently for sunny vs. rainy weather. Then I told them that as scouts we like to be prepared and so we were going to review how to be safe in an earthquake. They all identified the safest places to be in an earthquake. Another way to be prepared is to know how to keep germs from spreading: wash hands thoroughly (wash up high (fingertips), wash down low (palms), in between (fingers), then your clean!
Musical Chairs: Next we played an extinction game to find out which animal will go extinct first and which one will survive! If the scouts don't want to be eliminated, you can just ask for their animal picture if they don't get a chair and let them keep marching until every animal but one or two are "extinct". You could also let each boy have two animal pictures to wear if it is a very small group.
Four Corners: The next game was similar although we used recently extinct animals. Have one boy in the middle of the room blindfolded. He points at each corner and gives it a number. Then everyone gets to choose a corner. The boy in the middle chooses a corner and everyone in that corner gets to choose an extinct animal to wear. Keep playing until all the extinct animals have been chosen. A different boy can be in the middle every single time if you wish or it can be the den mother the whole time. This game is very adaptable.
Movie: Finally we talked about why animals go extinct. The big reasons we identified are loss of habitat, over-hunting/fishing/poaching, and climate change (mainly from carbon and methane gases.) You probably won't have time, but if you do, we watched a few minutes of "Racing Extinction" on youtube while we had a snack (starting at about 26:10 to 33:04 minutes). I explained that in this video scientists are talking about how extinction happens. It can be from over-hunting for example fishing all the sharks to sell for soup or poaching elephants to sell their tusks. They will also see how the gases from our cars and factories can change the ocean water so much that it can kill sea-life! Some oyster farmers lost millions of oysters in one day just because the water finally got too bad! Lastly they see how eating too much meat is really hard on the planet--trees are cut down for grazing land and the animals produce gases 20 times worse than carbon dioxide. Have you ever smelled cows? A cub scout can help animals just by eating a few more vegetables!
Let all the boys take animal pictures home to show their families!
Den Meeting #3 "Zoo fieldtrip"
Wild Animal Exhibit: We went to "Scales and Tails" wild animal show at the county fair. They had every single boy's undivided attention for an hour, we saw and learned all about tarantulas, skinks, gila monsters, snapping turtles, gators, and snakes. This was an amazing den meeting! It was a great animal activity and the county fair is free and close to home for us. The rest of the year there is a museum that does reptile shows by request. There is also a fish farm nearby we could have visited which is great because it is an "outdoor activity" for the Wolves. There are also people in our neighborhood that have lots of reptiles and/or amazing salt water fish tanks that could have shared with our den. They even talked about endangered animals a little bit more for the boys which was a great review from last week.