How to show animal paw prints and tracks to kids

Animal paw prints in the sand

Before volunteering - the sand pit project
Before volunteering - the sand pit project
First, the sand is raked to reveal moisture. This sand is wet enough and does not require extra water
First, the sand is raked to reveal moisture. This sand is wet enough and does not require extra water
The animal feeder is emptied
The animal feeder is emptied
Sunflower seeds are added - these appeal to squirrels and birds
Sunflower seeds are added - these appeal to squirrels and birds
After a bit of volunteering, the paw print sandpit is complete. As animals approach the feeder, they leave footprints in the damp sand.
After a bit of volunteering, the paw print sandpit is complete. As animals approach the feeder, they leave footprints in the damp sand.

How to spot animal pawprints if you are not a tracker?

I was really impressed when I first saw this smart contraption in a local park. As a part of the environmental education program, this sand pit offers local wildlife some food... in exchange for their paw print!

The sand pit is shown after a heavy rain, so the animal footprints have been washed away. The feeder bin also collected some water and has been emptied. Still, the concept is rather simple, but I've never seen anything like that when I was growing up.

The sand in the pit has to be gently raked to become soft, but still retain some moisture, while the feeding bin is filled with sunflower seeds and nuts. This attracts a variety of wildlife to the feeding bin, and they have to walk through the sand to get to the food!

Even more surprising is that a student came up with this project, not a professor or an instructor! The student built the sand pit as a summer project and now it is a part of the environmental education program here at upper dublin!


Paw print identification

This handy chart is located right next to the sand pit, helping students identify which animals are living in the park
This handy chart is located right next to the sand pit, helping students identify which animals are living in the park

Identifying paw prints

This handy little chart is made by local students and is really well made. It shows animals that may be living in the local park. The nearby paw print sandpit shows if they really live here! 

A variety of animal footprints are identified, including duck, skunk, squirrel, fox, brown bear, housecat, dog, etc.

I'm looking forward to coming back once the rainy days are over to see who lives in that park!

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Comments 2 comments

Ben McDonald 5 years ago

Its amazing what you can use sand for, i like your creativity. Thanks for the tips.


BLS 4 years ago

What is the size of the pit? Any info on how we can build one?

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