Since learning about various animal’s footprints was a fun activity before, we decided to go further and investigate animal tracks a bit more in depth. To practice my daughter’s measuring skills, I made an animal track measuring activity to help us better understand the sizes of the animals’ tracks we learned about before. Measuring animal tracks turned in to a fun math activity as well as an outdoor search for the animal tracks in our own yard!
Measuring Animal Tracks
My kids love measuring things. I figured it was time to put the desire to measure into context as we measured the animal footprints. The printout I created shares an average size of animal tracks for 11 different animals (with three animals showing both front and hind paw prints to show the difference in size). It is important to understand that various animals are different sizes, and since my daughter has seen many of the animals in real life, on the screen, and in books, it helped her to put them in context when she saw that their paws were different sizes.
We also talked about how the various animals had different types of prints: birds, mammals with toe prints, and the deer’s cloven print. (This month our science lessons are revolving around animal biology.)
As we practiced measuring the animal tracks, we discussed starting at zero, different units of measure (inches versus centimeters), and finding partial units. Since my youngest is only in Kindergarten, I focused on half inches and full inches for this project. That was challenging enough for her!
Finding Animal Tracks
As my daughter recorded the measurements on her recording sheet, she got more and more excited. She was especially excited about the squirrel tracks. Although we see many, many animals (including foxes at times!) in our unfenced yard, my daughter was delighted to measure the sample squirrel prints. As a background, you should know that the squirrels in our backyard trees have been given the names of Jack and Jane Fluffytail, so she has a vested interest in them. Last year, Jack and Jane had a few babies, so of course we can’t be sure when we are seeing Jack or Jane or their unnamed babies, but we make up all sorts of stories about our backyard pets!
As soon as she was done with all the measuring, my daughter jumped up ready to go outside and find animal tracks in our own yard. The unfortunate fact was that we did this activity on a day shortly after the snow had melted and the weather had once again plunged below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. (This is a frequent occurrence, one of the down sides of living in Chicagoland.) She was undaunted. We bundled up and headed outside, although I admit we only made it about 7 minutes before we both ran back inside!
Despite our rushed search for animal tracks, we were successful! Right away we found a frozen-in-mud print that was less than inch long and definitely resembled the squirrel track on our activity sheet. Strawberry was so excited! We also found numerous paw prints that were similar to the cat print on our recording sheet. (Certain to be left by either the stray cats we can’t get out of our yard or the neighbor’s own cats!)
As we sipped hot chocolate back in the house, Strawberry begged to go for a walk in the forest to find more animals. I hated to give her the horrible news that the subzero temperatures would not let that be possible on that day. She was disappointed.
“Well, for my birthday, can we go to a park and find more?” she begged.
That’s a sign of a great activity, if it has been granted Birthday Request status!
Get Started Learning about Animal Tracks
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