This February the third grade class from the town of Strafford came to visit the Discovery Center for a special winter field trip……a unique opportunity, because it was the first time a winter field trip had ever been held at the Center. The Discovery Center received a grant from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation which allowed for this lucky Strafford County class to experience winter life as a Native American on the Seacoast.  

These students visited the Discovery Center in the fall for our typical cultural history field trip. During their fall program they learned all about the Native Americans and Colonists living on Great Bay.  To build on that knowledge, in February they experienced how Native Americans survived the cold New England winters. The group of 38 students was divided into four groups for a three- hour program. Each group would rotate between four fun Native American based activities with staff members and volunteers at each station. The four stations included outdoor cooking at the birch bark wigwam, building survival shelters, a craft, and a marsh exploration.

Although we didn’t get the majestic winter scene we had hoped for, Strafford County had a beautiful warm and sunny day on the Bay. At the wigwam, students gathered around an open fire where they enjoyed popcorn and assisted in cooking and eating different types of wild game. Some of the meats included wild boar, elk, deer and Atlantic salmon. As one group was learning at the wigwam in the woods, another group was learning how to make survival shelters. They learned how to use resources around the bay to make small shelters which helped Native Americans survive on winter hunting trips. The indoor craft consisted of making small necklace pouches made of felt and yarn. They were also given a Butterbean game and a small arrowhead to put in the pouches to take home. During the last activity students explored the marsh while looking for signs of wildlife such as animal tracks, scat, bones, and more.

This special winter program was so much fun or staff and volunteers….getting outside in the winter is something we love to do, but rarely get to teach about!  Strafford County 3rd graders loved coming to Great Bay to live like a Native American for a day… the words of one ecstatic student “this place is so cool….can I have more venison?”