WALLENPAUPACK - A recent hands-on lesson about animal habitats, gave first graders an idea of the creatures they may see in their backyards. Marissa Sprowles, an environmental educator from the Lacawac Sanctuary spoke to the students from Wallenpaupack North Primary School about habitat critter science, the three habitats that exist in Pennsylvania and animal adaptation.

The habitats, she told the students are water, forest and field. Seated at tables, the students received a critter bag that consisted of a picture of the habitats along with fur, tracks, scat and skulls. With those items, the young animal experts had to determine where the animal lived by investigating the creature’s adaptations.

Raccoons for instance, Sprowles told the students live mostly in a water habitat because they eat fish and salamanders by using their sharp teeth. But, they are also able to eat plants because their teeth are flat. Whereas the grey horned owl’s adaptation or “super power,” she told the students is the ability to fly silently, so they have a better chance of catching their prey.

The program is new and so far, Sprowles said it’s going well with children learning and having fun. The program was actually developed with input from Wallenpaupack teachers to work with the curriculum.

A key to the success of the program, Sprowles said is that many students enjoy feeling the furs, skulls and tracks. The scat though, tends to receive the greatest response despite it being rubber. The various animals have been donated, but students are always concerned about where they came from.