Animal Tracks: Learning Patterns through Storytelling

What you’ll learn:

How to tell a story using the traveling patterns of animal tracks.

Key takeaways:

Animal tracks are different for different animals, with each track taking the shape and characteristics of the animals foot, or paw.

We can use the shape of each track to identify the animal and tell a story of what took place.

Tell a Story

Looking at, identifying, and learning to tell a story with animal tracks has tie points to the NGSS standards, but is also a captivating and engaging jumping point to peak kids’ interest in a variety of nature based sciences.

Get Outdoors

This project can tie in with outdoor trips if your location allows. What I love about this animal tracking project, however, is that you don’t have to have an outdoor area to begin to teach learners about animal tracks, structure and function of various animal feet, traits passed down from parents, etc. 

3D Print Real Animal Tracks

With the use of a 3D printer and a freely downloadable file you will have access to the tracks of 8 animals that can be printed into clay. This allows kids to build a story of in their clay.

Does the bear go to the river to drink water? What is the coyote doing? Is the seagul searching for clams? Did a bear chase a deer for a meal?

Kids will get to decide what happens on their clay and figure out how they can use the animal tracks to then tell that story.

Blending Art, Science and Story Telling!

I love a lot of things about this project. First, it blends art, literacy, and science into one activity.

Second, it is hands on, creative, messy, and unique for each child, allowing the engagemnt to be sky high.

Third, it opens a space for kids to tell their stories, which helps them learn to communicate ideas, a very important trait for scientists (and arguably humans).

Project Ingredients:

How to make an animal tracks story in clay

3d printed animal tracks for education

1. Print your animal tracks stamps. 

You can download the .STL file of our animal tracks clay stamps to print yourself, or you can send them off to a 3D printing service.

I printed one set for every 4 students. These animal track clay stamps are created from files you can download at the 3D animal tracks project.  Isabella has used software that turns 40+ images of a track into a 3D map that can be printed.

We used these files and inverted them to create stamps. In fact, we are also creating life-size inversions that can be used to ‘stamp’ the grounds around you with various animals!

Bonus, you can download the life-size 3D printable castings of the animal tracks to allow students to touch, feel, and investigate tracks from a variety of animals.

2. Prepare your supplies

Each student will need their own slab of clay for this project. You can prep this using a clay roller to roll clay and cut it into similarly sized squares, or rectangles. This clay will provide the base for their animal tracks project.

animal tracking stamps and projects for kids sitting on a table with books wild tracks, who was here and track that scat

3. Present the project

Kids will have time to free build their animal tracks story, but first, you need to set the stage for this project. You can do this through reading stories.

You can also talk about what our footprints look like. Do they look different than a dogs footprint? Why? How? 

Ask if footprints can tell a story. Ask them to think of a story of animals in a forest, any story they choose, how would they show this story only using animal tracks? Once students are warmed up you can present the stamps, clay, and supplies. 

I really liked the Wild Tracks and Who was here? books.

animal tracking activities for kids, clay with decoration and animal track story

4. Create your animal tracks story

Kids should have at least 30 minutes to craft their story. Encourage them to use the supplies to create the scene, be it by a lake, river, on a rocky bed, etc. 

5. Share your animal tracks story

Be sure to allow time for kids to look at each other’s stories, try to decipher what may have happened, and to share with others their own animal tracks story!

For more fun animal activities, check out our butterfly and tadpole metamorphosis science activity