TRAVERSE CITY — Take care reading — you don’t want to spoil the answers.
Students of Old Mission Peninsula School have a new set of quandaries in their tiny mittens — most of them feathered.
Turtle doves, swimming swans and calling birds prove woven into the school’s forest trails, and they brought along friends — including, but not limited to, leaping lords, French hens and dancing ladies.
The wintry wonderland makes a great scavenger hunt for curious students, said Rebecca Schubert, head of Old Mission’s parent-teacher organization.
Schubert and a few fellow volunteers crafted the classic, yet perfectly silly, displays after the idea struck a few weeks back.
The quarter-mile course opened Friday — and seems popular so far.
“We’ve tried to be more creative with different ideas, and this one is definitely a hit so far,” Schubert said Monday. “They’re just very engaged with it, they had to sit for a while and think of what ‘Six _____ a laying’ was.”
Second-graders in teacher Mason Hopkins’ class would agree. They got to explore for themselves Monday.
“They were super excited — I told them in the morning that we’d be heading out there in the afternoon, and all day they asked about it,” Hopkins said. “I didn’t give them any clues — they did it all on their own.”
Hopkins is always looking for ways to get her students out of the classroom for a bit — especially when fresh air and a little exercise are on the table.
Students who completed the hunt earned winter-themed trinkets, she added.
“It was fun for them — they would miss one and then be like, ‘Oh wait, this one has nine, so we must have missed 8,’” Hopkins said. “So they’d have to backtrack and you know, make sure they were on the right one.”
The planning started with a “scavenger hunt” blueprint, according to Schubert.
PTO Vice President Sarah Kime, a parent of two, jumped on the idea and thought up the course’s theme.
“We were talking about scenes, and we couldn’t just do a north pole or a merry Christmas,” Kime said. “I thought, what about ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’ — we could get really cheeky with it.”
It checked main boxes — a fun lesson available to both in-classroom and virtual students, and a new way to utilize some of Old Mission’s 30-some acres of forestland.
Preschoolers might need a little help, but the course welcomes and aims to challenge students throughout the school, Kime said.
The interactive course features each of daily gifts, all offering students a different challenge.
“There’s just more ‘play’ with it — the kids can follow and it makes them sing, think about the song,” Kime added.
Much of its decorative offerings were created or procured by Kime and Schubert.
Each student’s scavenger hunt worksheet will be collected and entered into a raffle, according to Schubert — winners will leave with gift cards to Toy Harbor.
“So many students are cooped up right now,” she said. “It’s nice to get out in nature and, you know, practice your math skills.
“And who doesn’t like the 12 Days of Christmas song?”
All are welcome to check out the 12 Days of Christmas trail, Kime said.
The scenic jaunt will be kept up and open through Jan. 1.
Other cheery plans remain in the works — while COVID-19 has thrown off some of the young campus’ traditions, a class-by-class cardboard sled race is still on the schedule, Schubert said.
Santa Claus himself also stopped by the school this season for a quick, socially distant holiday greeting.
“There’s not a whole lot for families to do right now to celebrate the holidays,” Kime said. “I’m just excited that anyone can come out and enjoy the beauty of our campus — and also have some fun.”