(Program 1 of 4)
This program is presented as a series and involves 4 one-hour sessions once a month from May through August. This series could be extended for more than 4 months or it could be held once a week, there is a lot of flexibility. Each session has a specific theme, Track Tricksters, Birds N’ Butterflies, Life on the Prairie, and Wet N’ Wild Wetlands. These themes are for the spring/summer months and can easily be changed based on the season. For this series, parents must attend with their child.
- Shapes made out of card stock or construction paper in different colors – square, rectangle, circle, star, heart, oval, diamond, triangle
- Animal tracks, either in cement or found out in nature on trails (our facility has 9 different animal tracks cemented in our sidewalk as you walk up to the building) making this program easy to do year round and also provides us with a variety of animal tracks
- A variety of animal track stamps and non-toxic ink pads in different colors and sheets of paper for ‘stamping track activity’
- A roll of paper at least 1.5 – 2 feet wide, laminating paper, pencil/marker, scissors for ‘walking like an animal activity’
- Animal furs (fun to use but not necessary)
Prior to this program there are a few things that will need to be done. For the ‘walking like an animal’ activity, prepare tracks. In this activity, the children get a chance to walk like different animals by following their tracks on a long sheet of laminated paper with the tracks drawn on them. We have goose, deer, rabbit, raccoon tracks, etc. It’s fun to use animals that walk differently.
To prepare this, get the roll of paper and unroll about 6 – 8 feet of it, draw one set of animal tracks on each roll of paper for the length of the paper, make sure to draw the tracks as accurately as possible and also place each print as the animal would walk naturally. Make the prints large enough to be seen easily. Finally, laminate the roll.
You can also label the type of animal on the back.
For the ‘identifying animal tracks’ activity you may need to prepare tracks ahead of time if you do not already have some. You can use construction paper to cut out tracks or order molds to make casts. Molds are available from nature supply catalogs like Acorn Naturalist.
Talk to children about animal tracks. Explain that all animals make tracks and they are all different. People make tracks, too. Tracks also tell us a story about where an animal has been.
Activity 1: Identifying animal tracks (outdoor or indoor)
Have 5 – 10 different animal tracks made up. Go around to each track and talk about what animal made the track. Discuss what shapes are found in the track. If you have casts/molds of tracks, let the children feel the tracks. Look for tracks in nature, take the shapes along and have the children tell you what shapes they find in each track. Always try to relate the animal tracks back to the children. For example, with a raccoon’s tracks, the front paws closely resemble our hands and the back paws resemble our feet. Have the children look at the palms of their hands and the bottoms of their feet in comparison to the raccoon tracks. If you have animal furs, have children feel them now.
Activity 2: Stamping Animal Tracks (indoors)
This activity uses rubber animal track stamps, non-toxic, washable ink in a variety of colors and a worksheet. For a worksheet, write 4 – 8 animal names on it leaving space for the track stamp next to it. Have each set of rubber stamps in individual bags and label them raccoon, muskrat, rabbit, etc. Have the children sit in groups. Pass out ink pads and worksheets to each group. The animal tracks will rotate through each group. An adult’s help is a plus for this activity. The adult can show the preschoolers where each stamp goes and supervise use of ink, stamps, etc.
Activity 3: Walk Like An Animal (indoors)
Use tape to secure the laminated tracks already made for this activity. Describe each animal and how it moves, such as waddling like a duck. Show pictures or stuffed animals as you talk about each track.
Demonstrate how each animal moves and the need to place your hands and/or feet on the tracks in order to move just like that animal. Divide the children with the adults up into lines and let them take their turn down each track trail. Add to the fun by encouraging them to make animal noises, etc.
Activities provided by:
Linn County Conservation Board
Wickiup Hill Outdoor Learning Center
10260 Morris Hills Rd
Toddville, IA 52341
(319) 892 – 6485
Iowa Early Learning Standards:
8.2, 9.1, 9.3, 9.4, 11.1, 12.3, 12.4, 12.5, 13.3, 14.3