East Haven Is On The HUNT For Quarantine Fun

Photo Credit: East Haven Patch

Looking for a refresh during this seemingly monotonous period? The East Haven community came together in light of the current pandemic to create a series of family-friendly activities for residents. These town-wide scavenger hunts are the perfect opportunity to get some fresh air while still adhering to social-distancing requirements!

The Hidden Yellowjacket Scavenger Hunt

Even in the darkest of times, East Haven citizens find a way to exhibit the pride that they take in their community. With the Yellowjacket being our staple mascot, community members are always buzzing with optimism and unity! Mrs. Ursula Pendziwater, a long-time resident and EHHS alumnus, felt inspired to encompass this pride after having seen a local community scavenger hunt set up in North Branford. With so many of her friends and family stuck in their homes with nothing to do, she thought it would only be right to create a project of her own. Ursula mentioned, “I thought that it would be a change of pace and give families something to do together. It could keep peoples’ minds off of the current situation, even if it was for thirty minutes.”

With permission from Mayor Joseph Carfora’s office and help from her loved ones, she designed clues for ten locations and plastered yellowjackets on the chosen pieces of property. “It was difficult choosing only 10 places. We were able to narrow it down because the locations needed to be in an area that could be seen from the street or parking lot. The location also had to be in an area that was not considered high traffic because we did not want people to be causing a distraction to other drivers.” Safety was of the utmost importance to Ursula and her team; they have ensured that every clue can be spotted without having to leave the privacy of your car.

The Hidden Yellowjacket Scavenger Hunt has received a great amount of praise from those in town. While initially aimed at young children and their families, the activity ended up appealing to people of all ages! Resident Maryanne Bauknecht stated, “It was a good experience with kids… it showed them things around town.” Although some yellowjackets have been reported missing from their locations, there are still a few left standing! When you are not busy watching Tiger King, or reorganizing your closet for the fourth time in a row, take to the streets and solve as many clues as you can!

We’re Going On a Bear Hunt Scavenger Hunt

There is no doubt that social-distancing has proven to be a tremendous challenge for all, especially for those teachers who are working to shape the next generation of students. With learning now being conducted remotely, it is hard to find interactive activities that capture each child’s full attention. Mrs. Stephanie Mckee, a preschool special education teacher at Deer Run Elementary, took to the internet earlier this month to find a way to enhance her thematic unit on bears. Having always incorporated Michael Rosen’s story, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, into her lessons, she thought that creating a hunt of her own would be the perfect opportunity to keep her students active. With help from East Haven residents, teddy bears were placed in the windows of many homes. Deer Run families were encouraged to take their child on a walk around their neighborhood to practice counting their counting skills. For every teddy bear spotted, the child was to place a tally into their notebook and post their final score on SeeSaw. This learning platform has not only allowed for parent-teacher communication, but has also given students the opportunity to continue interacting with their classmates! Mrs. Mckee stated, “All of my lessons and activities are posted for parents and guardians to read and carry out with their children. I am fortunate to have an amazing amount of support from the families of my students. It's a blessing to have follow-through at home, I tell my student's parents that I have the best co-teachers ever...each of them!” Mrs. Mckee was delighted by the outcome of this activity. Her and her colleagues have been doing everything they can to continue to stay connected with their students in light of the current circumstances. This activity alone proved that the bond she has with her students does not stop when they walk out of the school doors. She mentioned, “In short, not physically being with our students is the biggest struggle. Not being there to celebrate in the small day-to-day victories and building upon those victories is also very difficult. Again, because of the amazing families I work with, I am fortunate to see most of my students a minimum of twice a day for 20-30 minutes of LIVE learning. It isn't the same as hands-on learning at Deer Run, but it is the best method for the difficult situation we are all facing right now.” In such hard times, it is amazing to see so many community members coming together to help one another. One small act helped contribute to a great experience for our youth.

It is so important that over these next few months, we continue to offer interactive activities for our students and their families. Outdoor exercise and creativity can be easily lost, so opportunities such as these will reap tremendous benefits. Mrs. Mckee stated, “As a mom of a 2nd and 8th grade student, trying to find a good balance between my school family and my home family has been one of my biggest obstacles. It continues to be a daily learning process. Activities such as these help to incorporate relaxation and fun into learning for all of us, parents and teachers alike!” In staying united as a community, there is no doubt that we will make it through this together!