Wild Utah at Montessori Community School
Students and teachers at MCS had a wild time at camp this past month! Our summer camps allow children to explore other countries and cultures, so we decided to use this year’s winter camp as an opportunity to learn more about our local environment here on the Wasatch Front. Accompanied by real-life materials from mammals big and small, we learned about some of the animals which also call Utah home.
We started our journey with American black bears, letting our friends handle a black bear’s pelt, skull, and rubber footprints. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources lent us front and hind prints of a black bear and, for size comparison, they also lent us a print made from the Alaskan Kodiak bear, Bart (who used to live in Heber, Utah with his trainers). The children were very excited to see the size difference between black bear prints and a Kodiak bear print. After learning more about bears and hibernation, friends made their very own bear den craft with a sleeping bear inside.
Each day, we had a new set of animals to observe and study. We learned about migratory animals like elk, moose, mule deer and pronghorns. We handled antler sheds and talked about the differences between antlers and horns. Friends were especially excited to meet our bobcat and mountain lion pelts and to see the differences in size, color, and the texture of their fur. They made their own animal prints out of clay and we discussed how, unlike coyotes and foxes, Utah’s cats have retractable claws.
On the last day of camp, we learned about our high climbing animals, mountain goats and bighorn sheep. We were able to handle the skull of a male bighorn sheep and to handle the horns of both male and female sheep. We observed the horns and noted that they show growth rings for each year the sheep is alive. Friends made bighorn headbands of their own and spontaneously decided to put on a mountain goat puppet show.
With all of our materials from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, as well as some very kind MCS families, we were able to set up a mini-museum on the stage with a range of pelts, skulls, horns, sheds, and prints of Utah’s animals. Lower elementary students, Elyse and Anish, helped to organize the display and label our materials so that returning students could enjoy a piece of our Wild Utah winter camp.
We had a great time at camp this year and hope that you will have the opportunity to join us at one of our future camps!