Preschool Explorers Learn Fun Fox Facts at Coy’s Brook Woodlands

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

Preschool Explorers and their caregivers gathered today at the beautiful Coy’s Brook Woodlands for a morning full of wandering, learning, and creating.

Embarking down the path, we began our lesson with a discussion on deciduous versus coniferous trees. Collecting oak leaves and pine needles, we paused trailside to discuss the differences between the two. Upon discovering a beech tree, we observed its smooth bark, the shape and color of the leaves, and the pointed buds holding next season’s leaves tightly coiled at the tips of the branches. The trail led us through a thick patch of sweet pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia), its dried flowers resembling peppercorns clustered together, balancing on the tips of the gray branches.

14 young Explorers sat upon a fallen tree under a canopy of oaks and pitch pines for our first story of the morning: How to Find a Fox by Kate Gardner. This story is full of stunning fox photographs and shares a lively narrative, capturing the thrill of discovering the secrets of the great outdoors. At the request of an Explorer asking for “’nother one?” I read Winter Dance by Marion Dane Bauer, a wonderful story about a fox wondering how to prepare for the coming of winter.

After the reading these two wonderful children’s books, we continued to saunter along until we arrived at a clearing in the forest. Our group took a seat on a large mat under the blue sky, where we admired the photos in Foxes and Their Dens by Martha E. H. Rustad and discussed some fox facts:

  • Foxes are members of the dog family, and they live in dens.
  • Young foxes are called pups and are born in the spring.
  • As many as 10 pups are born at the same time.

Yipping like foxes, our voices and laughter filled the otherwise quiet woodlands.

Time to get crafty! I handed each Explorer a sponge brush, white paint, a piece of yarn, and a reddish-orange piece of construction paper. Some youngsters added just a splash of white paint onto the tip of their construction paper to create a red fox tail, while others added a whole lot to replicate the winter camouflage of the arctic fox.

Once each Explorer’s unique fox tail was complete, we used the yarn to fasten the creations around our waists. We were filled with pup-like energy so we ran around together in a circle as fast as we could! Then we walked across a fallen tree and exercised our balancing skills. Mimicking the fox’s walk, we practiced softly placing our feet (paws) on the pine needle and leaf covered trail trying not to make a sound.

Before continuing our adventure, I read one more book. The World Is a Family by Rosie Adams is a story about two foxes exploring the wonders of the world together. They prioritize taking moments of stillness and silence, ensuring they have time to relax and recover their smiles, even when life gets busy.

Traversing the trails once again, Explorers picked up some of bundles of pine needles peppering the forest floor, deposited there by squirrels. Imaginations turned the bundles into brooms and brushes and Explorers became the forest’s clean-up crew, sweeping the trail, trees, nearby bushes, and each other.

Arriving at a bench, youngsters climbed up to review our fox facts, discussing camouflage, hibernation, adaptation, and migration as well. I so adore this group of humans and am very grateful for these opportunities to share our Tuesday mornings together. 

I am looking forward to our next adventure together at Cornelius Pond Woodlands.

Happy Exploring.


Ms. Andrea