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Animal Tracks: Keeping Track of Who Has Been Here!

Elementary

Description

In this entertaining resource students explore animal tracks while learning about how different animals move.  The activity-based lessons guide children through a scientific investigation of different types of tracks and has students compare movement patterns.  Students will also learn about adaptations and how these characteristic physical or behavioural features help an animal to survive in its environment.  Students will:

  • Examine/read animal tracks.
  • Compare and contrast tracks using field guides, measurements and shapes.
  • Make casts of animal tracks.
  • Identify track patterns.
  • Investigate walking adaptations of different animals.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Exploration
  • Analysis of data
  • Reading wildlife signs
  • Patterning
  • Observing animals in their natural habitat without impacting on the environment.

Strengths

  • All of the track guides and identification sheets are included with the resource.
  • Activities are engaging and appealing.
  • Teaches authentic real world skills that students can continue to use.
  • Organized and easy to use.

Weaknesses

  • Not a lot of background information is provided for the teacher.
  • Requires a great deal of preparation time for the teacher to locate and make plaster casts of different animal tracks.

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This resource encourages students to spend time outside exploring their natural world and thus would be a valuable addition to any unit with a nature theme. There are also opportunities to incorporate some math and language arts outcomes into the activities. Students could take measurements of the length and width of tracks and record their data. They could also classify and sort tracks by size and shape.

After learning silent walking skills students could walk in a natural area and make lists of everything they observe.  The activity that has students making their own animal track casts could be expanded upon by having students draw pictures of tracks and track patterns. They could create collages of tracks with each species labelled and place their pictures around the school. After using the resource a teacher could invite a First Nations elder into the classroom to speak to the students about their experiences tracking animals in the wild.  Then students could create their own story about observing animals.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

  • Step 1Select a province
  • Alberta
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Kindergarten
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • The child demonstrates curiosity, interest and a willingness to learn about the environment and community
    • Grade 1
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Needs of Animals and Plants
    • Grade 2
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Small Crawling and Flying Animals
  • British Columbia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Kindergarten
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science: Plants and animals have observable features
    • Grade 1
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 1: Living things have features and behaviours that help them survive in their environment
  • Manitoba
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 1
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Characteristics and Needs of Living Things
    • Grade 2
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Growth and Changes in Animals
  • New Brunswick
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    • Kindergarten
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • You and Your World: Place and Community
    • Grade 1
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • You and Your World: Our Environment
  • Newfoundland & Labrador
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Kindergarten
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Exploring My World: Animals
    • Grade 1
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Needs and Characteristics of Living Things
    • Grade 2
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Animal Growth and Changes
  • Northwest Territories
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 1
      • Step 3Select a subject
    • Grade 2
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Life Science: Growth and Changes in Animals
  • Nova Scotia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 1
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 1: Needs & Characteristics of Living Things
    • Grade 2
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 2: Animal Growth and Changes
  • Nunavut
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    • Grade 2
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  • Ontario
  • Prince Edward Island
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Kindergarten
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Exploring the World Using Our Senses
    • Grade 1
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Needs and Characteristics of Living Things
    • Grade 2
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Animal Growth and Changes:Investigating the Needs and Life Cycles of an Organism
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan
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    • Kindergarten
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Units & Outcomes
    • Grade 1
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Needs & Characteristics of Living Things
    • Grade 2
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Animal Growth and Changes
  • Yukon Territory
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Kindergarten
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science: Plants and animals have observable features
    • Grade 1
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 1: Living things have features and behaviours that help them survive in their environment

Themes Addressed

  • Ecosystems (1)

    • Appreciating the Natural World
  • Land Use & Natural Resources (1)

    • Forests

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

Students learn how to investigate a scientific problem such as which animal left behind a track through a comprehensive approach that includes the use of  field guides and the Internet.  The information portrays animals realistically and has a valid scientific component.

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Satisfactory

This resource heightens student awareness of the environment by encouraging active exploration of natural spaces.  The skill of tracking and reading animal signs is lifelong, thus the social implication of this type of lesson is that students are much more likely to spend time outside being active in nature. 

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Good

The use of hands-on activities develops critical thinking skills in students and they learn to analyze a scientific problem using all of the resources available to them.

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Poor/Not considered

Although there is no direct action project associated with this resource the deeper appreciation for nature that it develops in students will result in a heightened awareness of the value of wildlife habitat.

Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Poor/Not considered

The activities in this resource foster a deeper appreciation for nature but there are no formal opportunities for values clarification.

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered

Not considered in this resource.

Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Very Good

The activities in this resource develop students' relationships with their natural world by providing them with meaningful experiences that centre around animals and their habitats.

Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Good

The activities are relevant to students throughout Canada and focus on local wildlife.

Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Poor/Not considered

Not considered in this resource.

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Good

The exploratory nature of the activities in this resource provide multiple opportunities for students to discover answers without formal instruction.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Satisfactory

This is primarily a science resource.  However math outcomes for measurement and analyzing patterns can be addressed through the track measuring and patterning activities.

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Good

The outdoor experience of the lessons contained in this resource allow for exploration and discovery in a natural area.  Students need to use analytical and critical thinking skills to discover animal signs and connect the signs to a particular species.

Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.

 

Differentiated Instruction Satisfactory

Although there are no suggestions for accommodations in the resource the activities are highly tactile and thus will appeal to a wide range of students.  The activity sheet at the end of the lessons has been differentiated for younger and older students.

Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Very Good

Students participate in activities that actively engage them in hands on learning and develop exploration skills.  They also learn the traditional art of tracking in a way that will deepen their interest in wildlife and encourages them to continue using their new knowledge on their own.

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory

Students participate in some small group learning when they do the track patterning activity in "Follow the Leader" and identify tracks in "Whose Track is That?".  They also work cooperatively during the outside activities when they locate and identify tracks.

Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Satisfactory

There is an assessment activity included with the resource in which students match animals to tracks.  The sheet has been prepared for younger and older students and would make a good summative assessment tool.  Formative assessment occurs through the use of discussion questions included with each activity.

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Poor/Not considered

Not considered in this resource.

Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Poor/Not considered

Not considered in this resource.

Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Satisfactory

During the "Stalk the Deer" activity students must choose a strategy for successfully following a deer in the forest.  They need to consider and make choices about how to walk softly and find other ways in which they can be successful in this task. 

Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.