Preschool Explorers Celebrate the Start of Summer at Red River Beach

Reflections by Naturalist & Walk Leader Andrea Higgins
Photos courtesy of HCT Volunteer Photographer Gerry Beetham

June 21, 2022

Abundant sunshine, breezes blowing from the East, brilliant blue skies, and temperatures in the high 60s offered a delightful setting for HCT’s Preschool Explorers adventure at Red River Beach. What an absolutely gorgeous place to celebrate the start of summer with powder soft sand for walking and sitting and blue-green waters for admiring.

Preschoolers and their caregivers sat in a circle on the sand to learn about some of the mollusks living at the beach. We learned that mollusks have a hard shell and soft bodies. I handed each preschooler a bag containing shells from a hard-shelled clam (aka Quahog), a slipper, an Oyster, a Blood Ark Clam, a Bay Scallop, a Sea Scallop, and a Jingle shell (aka Mermaid’s Toenail). We took each shell out of the bag, practiced saying their names out loud, and I shared interesting facts about each animal. For example, a scallop can propel itself through the water and has 2 rows of iridescent blue eyes. A Quahog has a foot and can bury itself in the sand. An Oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day.

After examining all of the contents from our beachcomber starter kit (a gift to go home with each preschooler), I shared photos and facts about some of the birds that spend their time at the beach. We chatted about Piping Plovers, Least and Common Terns, and Osprey.

Stella Star of the Sea by Marie Louse Gay was our read aloud book. This is an enchanting story with delightful watercolor illustrations about Stella and her little brother Sam spending a day at the beach, exploring and questioning all the secrets of the sea and sand.

When it was time to go exploring, Preschoolers were invited to walk along the beach and ask lots of questions to learn about their beach discoveries. They went forth with curiosity and enthusiasm as they searched for treasures along the edge of the shining sea. Resembling Sanderlings scooting quickly parallel to where the water meets the sandy beach, our Preschoolers collected Horseshoe crab molts, seaweeds, rocks, barnacles, mussels, clams, scallops, crabs, and claws for identification. Such an absolute joy to be in the company of curiosity and wonder!

Time for yet another activity for our busy learners: practicing our alphabet writing skills. Our preschoolers drew A’s for “attacher”, B’s for “burrower”, C’s for “crawler”, and S’s for “swimmer”! We made a frame around each letter and as we found crabs, slipper shells, mussels, and oysters we decided which category each belonged. We discussed that a horseshoe crab is a crawler, a swimmer, and a burrower, plus it had barnacles attached to it — it could fit all of our categories!  

Thank you, Explorers and Caregivers, for sharing the Summer Solstice and the first day of summer with me at such a beautiful place.

Happy Exploring,
Ms. Andrea

NEW Program this summer! Ecosystem Explorers with Andrea Higgins:

If you have kids or grandkids ages 3-10, join us for a new family program to explore the great outdoors! Naturalist Andrea Higgins will lead a habitat hike at a different conservation destination in Harwich each week. Summer is such an inviting time to get outside and learn about the wonders of nature. Birds are singing, frogs are calling, and flowers are in full bloom. Traverse trails, listen to stories, and learn about plants and animals while creating memories with your youngsters.   

To learn more and sign up for Ecosystem Explorers in July, please click here