Winter is a great time to figure out who is hanging out at the park when no one is looking. Prints in the mud and snow allow you to identify the creature who made them, and a series of tracks can tell a whole story.
The tracks below are that of a raccoon, a common nighttime marauder at Silver Falls. The raccoon’s hind tracks are larger than its front—with five toes on each, they resemble the human hand and foot.
When walking, the stocky raccoon is a “waddler,” moving the front and hind limbs on one side of the body at the same time. When moved to pick up the pace (perhaps due to a visit by the evening ranger), a raccoon will start to “gallop,” moving the front feet together and then the hind.
Where was this raccoon headed? Look closely. Fortunately, it was foiled by a latch this time around!
Want to take your students outdoors and still complete that language arts lesson? Make a nature journal, grab this guide, and go!
Included in this handy little booklet are twenty-four activities to help students engage in observation, description, and writing through first-hand interaction with the natural world. The first section focuses on development of the senses and can be pulled out and used any time of the year. These activities are appropriate for all ages. The second section is geared more towards the writing craft and builds upon itself. These activities are appropriate for later elementary, middle, and secondary students.
Hopefully, these activities inspire you and your students to take the classroom outside. Enjoy your time, and don’t forget your rain jacket!
“Developing Creative Language Skills Through Nature Observation” Activity Book