Track Detectives – Background

Animals live secret lives all around us – yet their tracks and sign can be found everywhere, starting in our own backyards. Winter is a great time for tracking as snow makes a great surface for animal tracks to register, leaving imprints for us to study and interpret. Becoming a track detective is like learning to read; in fact, it is reading, but with a different set of symbols. Every set of tracks tells a story. When reading these stories, consider the place where the tracks are found, the track pattern left behind, and the shape and size of the animal’s foot print.

The place where you find tracks can be an important clue. Continue reading Track Detectives – Background

Track Detectives – Activities

FOCUS: Tracks in the snow give us hints about the lives of animals that live nearby. Learning to recognize tracks and sign helps us identify animals and their activities from the clues they leave behind.

Objective: To begin to explore and ask questions about tracks by observing photos depicting interesting track scenarios.

Divide the children into small groups and share a photo from Mystery Track and Sign Photos with each group. Ask children to share their observations about the photo.  Encourage observation first without interpretation (for example “I see tracks that end at the tree” instead of  “A squirrel was climbing the tree”). Based on their observations, who are the possible animals who could have made the tracks? What do they wonder? Pass the photos between the small groups. Afterwards, everyone can share their observations and wonderings together, piece together the story, and reveal the mystery animal.

Materials: Mystery Track and Sign Photos.

PUPPET SHOW “Tracking the Tracker”
Objective: To learn the four basic patterns of animal tracks and other important sign or clues used to identify animals and their activities.

Perform or have a group of children perform the puppet show for the class. Afterward, ask questions to review the key details and vocabulary in the story. Use the puppets and track pattern props to review the four basic track patterns. Continue reading Track Detectives – Activities

Track Detectives – Puppet Show

Tracking the Tracker

Characters: Harry Hare, Sally Squirrel, Fiona Fawn, Ollie Otter, Peter Porcupine.

Props: Group of Four Tracks Pattern, Single Line of Tracks Pattern, Paired Tracks of Different Sizes Pattern, Paired Tracks of the Same Size Pattern, Hare Pattern (2X).

Harry Hare  (hopping back and forth) Oh boy! Snow on the ground. What fun! (hold up Group of Four Tracks Pattern) Oh, look! Some tracks. Four prints together, then a space, then four more together. Maybe I can find a clue about who made these. Hmm…they go right to a tree. I know! These are squirrel tracks!

Sally Squirrel  You’re a good track detective, Harry! Those are my tracks. Continue reading Track Detectives – Puppet Show

Track Detectives – Standards


The activities in this unit help children understand the basic concepts in the Disciplinary Core Ideas listed here. You can use the following list as a guide for lesson planning. These Disciplinary Core Ideas are taken from Grade Band Endpoints in A Framework for K-12 Science Education. Additionally, our activities give children opportunities to engage in many of the Science and Engineering Practices and reflect on the Crosscutting Concepts as identified in the Next Generation Science Standards. Continue reading Track Detectives – Standards