University of Maryland Extension

Youth Gardening Scavenger Hunt at Frederick County Extension Office

On June 3, 2013, UME Master Gardeners in Frederick Co. held the first ‘Demonstration Garden Scavenger Hunt’ for preschool age children and their parents.  Twenty one interested gardeners and numerous Master Gardeners came to the two hour event.  There were 6 stations for the children and two scavenger hunt models: one was for finding colors in the garden using a color wheel, and the other photos of plants and items to find in the demonstration garden.   The photo hunt directed the children to find insect houses, strawberry plants, a fig tree, the mason bee house, compost bins and more.  These were chosen to enforce the Baywise principles of attracting wildlife and composting.  The mason bees were a great draw as many parents learned as much as the children. 

The stations were very popular and a way for even the parents to learn.  The reading station had stories about butterflies and caterpillars.  Station two, located by an active bluebird house, was a sand box where the children learned about bluebirds.  Station three included worm bins in three states of progress.  The children loved the worms and the parents indicated they were interested in starting their own indoor composting bin.  Station four included the salad box table and container herbs. This gave the children a chance to plant lettuce seeds.  The highlight of this station was unplanned with a tiger swallow tail caterpillar feasting on a parsley plant.  Station five was in our newly renovated compost area, where backyard composting was presented.  And lastly in station six, the children were given field guides, looked at preserved insects, and were encouraged to look for insect specimens in the native area. 

At the end of the day the children went home with knowledge of good bugs, attracting wildlife to their gardens, composting and where food comes from.   One child went to his preschool class after doing the scavenger hunt activities and convinced his teacher to bring the class to the demo garden!  They will be coming back later this summer when the vegetables are ready for harvest for a tasting adventure in the garden. 

Phase two of the demo garden scavenger hunt is to build kits that parents and schools can check out to experience the garden on a self guided tour. 

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