Published on August 15, 2019

Making Nature Connections for the Littlest Learners

Wellfleet Bay educator Spring Beckhorn leads preschoolers on a field trip

Wellfleet Bay has been providing programs to Cape Cod schools for nearly 40 years. But recently, the sanctuary has expanded its reach into a new, key age group—preschool!

Ranging from ages 3-4, preschoolers don’t yet have cell phones or favorite online games and approach the natural world with enthusiasm and curiosity.

"It’s a good time to help children become familiar with the outdoors and the animals and plants that can be found in local habitats," says Spring Beckhorn, the sanctuary's school programs coordinator.

Although being on a nature walk may be somewhat of a novelty for young kids, Spring says they are less fearful to examine and touch, say, a dragonfly nymph discovered during a ponding excursion.

On a recent nature walk with Truro preschoolers, Spring regularly encouraged kids to use their senses—as an animal would—to experience everything the sanctuary has to offer. She also urged the youngsters to make observations, which they seemed eager to do!

"Young children have a natural sense of wonder," Spring notes, "and they want to share what they’re learning and seeing."

While the programs may sound like an opportunity for fresh air and fun, they are carefully structured and designed to support the Massachusetts Department of Education's Science and Technology/Engineering Frameworks. "Even preschool has its curriculum guidelines and through an inquiry-based and hands-on approach we are introducing these young children to concepts they’ll build upon as they go through school," Spring says.

Wellfleet Bay provides science and nature-based programming at all elementary schools in its service area, as well as specialty programming at the middle and high school level.

Thank You!

Wellfleet Bay would like to thank the individuals, foundations, local businesses, and community organizations whose generous support made Wellfleet Bay's 2019 conservation and education programs possible. These gifts and grants allow us to teach nearly 2,100 Outer Cape students about the unique ecology and wildlife of Cape Cod through hands-on classroom lessons and field investigations. In addition, generous community support provided summer camp scholarships that enabled almost 65 local children to attend our Natural History Day Camps in Wellfleet and Chatham.

We'd like to thank the following organizations for awarding the sanctuary's preschool program with the funding that has allowed it to grow:

  • Anonymous (2) 
  • Brewster Conservation Trust
  • Cape Cod Five Charitable Foundation Trust
  • Cape Cod Young Professionals Giving Circle
  • The Chatham Fund of the Cape Cod Foundation
  • Harwich Conservation Trust
  • The Marshall Frankel Foundation
  • Massachusetts Cultural Council
  • Local Cultural Councils in Chatham, Eastham, Harwich, Orleans, Provincetown, Truro, & Wellfleet
  • Robert Verity Clem Memorial Scholarship Endowment Fund
  • Tern Foundation
  • W. Vernon Whiteley, Inc.
  • Wellfleet Shellfish Promotion and Tasting―SPAT
  • Wellfleet Bay Leadership Friends and supporters of the Sanctuary