Exploring Animal Tracks with Roots & Shoots

Sweet success! Four families joined us this afternoon at Wildflower Park for our monthly Roots & Shoots activity. The focus this time was on animal tracks; chosen specifically because we are studying vertebrate animals in our homeschool.

We started out with a read aloud. Everyone gathered around me on the grass as I read a book, titled, Whose Tracks Are These? by Jim Nail. The kids and adults enjoyed listening to the clues to try to identify the animal that left the tracks in question. We also shared a few stories of animal encounters (raccoons, deer/elk, squirrels, etc.). It was a great discussion and I was delighted that everyone sat quietly and respectful of one another. With toddlers, you never know what to expect. 😀We then moved to identify two sets of tracks that I had discreetly painted onto the ground. The kids knew right away that they were raccoon and bear. Buddy had took his flip flops off earlier so he quickly compared his foot size to that of the bear. I wish I had had a chance to photograph him.I shared with everyone a number of animal tracks that I had collected from former students (plaster of paris casts). We talked about how all of the animals we had talked about were vertebrates. [Animals with a backbone.]

I shared a couple of vertebrae that were also given to me by former students (elk and whale). I asked, “Does anyone know the 5 groups of vertebrates?” [Reptiles, Amphibians, Fish, Birds, and Mammals]

Then I shared with them a small bat specimen and asked, to which group does the bat belong? We talked about what makes a mammal a mammal.

Lastly, I shared a fox pelt that my dad gave me years ago. There were many “oohs” and “ahhhs”. This is what I love about teaching science – exciting their senses and capturing their spirit.

After the ‘show and tell’, I showed the stencils I had made and allowed everyone to decorate their Tshirts with the spray-on fabric paints. I had only 4 bottles of paint and with 9 children, I was a little apprehensive about how patient they would be. But my fears were for naught… everyone was so intrigued that we enjoyed watching others create theirs just as much as we enjoyed our own.

For more information about animal tracks, check out this great web site, Tracks & Signs.

About Eva Varga

Eva is passionate about education. She has extensive experience in both formal and informal settings. She presently homeschools her two young children, teaches professional development courses through the Heritage Institute, and writes a middle level secular science curriculum called Science Logic. In addition to her work in education, she is an athlete, competing in Masters swimming events and marathons. In her spare time she enjoys reading, traveling, learning new languages, and above all spending time with her family. ♥

2 comments on “Exploring Animal Tracks with Roots & Shoots

  1. That is so neat! And, I’m so happy for you that you had 4 families show. I know you’ve had disappointments before.

    I just love all of the “stuff” that you have. I know if I lived near you, I’d be wanting to see it all. What a treasure!!!

    We’re having our first Nature Day of the year in a few weeks. We now have 80 FAMILIES in our group! Can you believe it? A LOT joined this summer, but we were getting big last year. We went from about a dozen at a “Day” to about 80 the last 4 or 5 months! I’ve planned a special treat for our first Day – one of our new members does incredible sand castles and we’re spending the day at the beach AND she’s teaching us how to make “real” sand art!!! I can’t wait!

    Have fun. :-)

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