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On a recent trip to South Dakota, my parents brought back a book for my son called Who Pooped in the Black Hills? You may or may not have been able to guess, but it’s about a family hunting for signs of animals. This included, but was not limited to, animal tracks and poop.
Of course, my son loved it. This got us thinking that it would be fun to study animal tracks in our own area! We see them around us all the time when we’re on the trails. We may know a few of the obvious ones like deer and dogs, but it would be cool to know a few more.
This knowledge would really come in handy for all my imaginings that I may someday live in an apocalyptic world where I’ll need such information for survival. These activities are also great to incorporate into home school curriculum during the animal study unit. Otherwise, it’s just fun!
I also enjoy the idea of being a little more in touch with nature and being able to understand some of the signs that are all around us! I feel like humans have gotten out of sync with the natural world and I love any opportunity to reconnect, especially if I can involve my kids.
Whatever the reason, if you want to learn about animal tracks with your kids, here are five interactive activity ideas!
1. Use this printable while hunting for animal tracks!
We’ve created a 2-page printable specifically for the purpose of observing animal tracks! Feel free to print out as many as you’d like to use over and over again. Bring along a field guide, clipboard, pen, and ruler (if you want to be really scientific).
Use the spaces to sketch out tracks that you find and record observations about them, as well as make a guess about which animal left the tracks behind! There’s also an additional page with even more animal signs to look for! Once we actually began looking for them, it was amazing how many animal signs were all around us that we had never noticed before!
2. Read some books about animal tracks.
These are all the books we have about animal tracks! Some are just informational stories that might pique your kid’s interest, like Who Pooped in the Black Hills? This book actually belongs to a series that features different locations across America. It follows a family hiking in South Dakota and all of the animal signs they find along the way.
Tracks, scats, and signs is also very informational and features a different animal on each page, along with what signs each one might leave behind. This is a good one to take out and about with you to read outside or while on the trail.
Exploring nature is obviously not solely about tracks, but it does have a couple related activities, so I thought we’d include it. If you’re looking simply for a succinct animal tracks field guide to take out with you, this little pamphlet is perfect.
3. Make plaster molds.
Help your kids feel like little naturalists by making their very own molds of the animal tracks you find! All you need is some plaster of paris and water!
Read here for some super helpful instructions on how to make your own molds while out and about. This would be a great thing to start a collection of or even as a keepsake from places you visit!
4. Make your own set of animal tracks!
This is a fun activity that allows kids to be on the other side of the tracks (so to speak). Instead of finding them, they get to be the ones making them! Have your kids make these and bring them along to the beach, a nice muddy spot, or in the snow.
To see how it’s done, check out this diy!
5. Set an animal track “trap”.
This is a great activity if you want to be proactive in finding some animal tracks! It can also be a fun way to find out what animals might be wandering around your own yard. One way to set a trap is to create a tunnel like this one.
After it’s set up and ready to go, leave it out in the yard, then check back to see what has visited!
Animal signs are all around us! And they come in many different forms besides just tracks and scat. There are several fun and interactive ways to study them with kids.
Use the printable we created and take it outside with you next time you’re on a hike! Draw a sketch, record what you find, and learn about other signs animals leave behind!
There are also plenty of great books to pique your children’s interest. Spend some time exploring a few of these with your kids!
One fun way to preserve the animal tracks you find is to make a plaster mold of them! Or, create your own animal track shoes and leave behind you own footprints! Something you can do in your very own backyard is to set an animal track trap. You never know what creatures are running around back there!
Looking for some more nature study ideas? Try this tree ring study with your kids!
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