Working together to raise our children
Animal tracking can provide hours of fun for children and adults alike, with so much to learn from miliarities, differences, how an animal moves, through to signs of running, eating and even pooing!
From the very early stages of learning how to make marks to giving meaning to them, this page will hopefully give you the foundations for exploring and learning all about the marks around you in nature.
Early Years Activities
With young children, it's always best to give them opportunities to explore on their own terms with their interests guiding them. Prepare to throw your own rules and your way of doing things OUT OF THE WINDOW! If they want to explore the effects of doing something weird and wonderful such as painting their cheek and smooshing it against a piece of paper, who are we to stop their sensory exploration!
Try to relax and go with the flow!
Give children the chance to explore marks for themselves - get the paint and paper out (in the garden would be even better!). Large old boxes flattened down work a treat too.
Collect together a range of materials from the garden such as leaves, sticks, snail shells (preferably empty!), stones, grass blades and let the child go crazy with their exploring... toy cars work great in paint, and toy dinosaurs make amazing prints in mud and sand
Model play; take your shoes off and start painting your toes and walking on the paper - comment by talking to your child about the marks you've made using descriptive and exciting language!
Investigate different kinds of feet by looking at real feet including non human feet. If you have a kind and willing pet, look at theirs, look at pictures of feet in books and online and think about these questions together:
How many toes are there?
What does the bottom surface of the foot look like? Is it bumpy? Scaly? Smooth? Flat? Arched? What shapes do you see?
When the creature walks, what parts of its feet touch the ground?
Does the foot have nails? Hooves? Claws?
If there are claws, do they touch the ground when the animal walks (as they do with dogs)? Or are the claws retracted (as they are in cats)?
If you have a printer,, why not print out the below sheets from the wonderful RSPB and take with you on your daily walk with a pencil- if you don't have a printer, use your smart phone to download and use on the move!
Pretend to be detectives and work out what's been happening at the scene - open an exciting dialogue with your children - are the rabbits on their way to a tea party? Perhaps the squirrel has been scratching the bark to sharpen his claws!
Use your imaginations together and above all else, HAVE FUN!