Saturday, 28 July 2012

tracks & trails with children...

If you're looking for summer holiday inspiration and ideas of what you can do with your children then learning about tracks and trails will not only keep them entertained for hours but is cheap too!

You will need:

an identification book (we have this one)
plaster of Paris ~ I buy mine from here
a bottle of water
a plastic container to mix the plaster of Paris in
one empty plastic bottle ~ large water bottles work well
a mixing stick

You can do this activity anywhere, from your back garden and city parks to nature reserves, river banks or large woodlands. In fact if it rains, there will be more mud to find tracks in! 

You will need to think like an animal and look for clues, does the barbed wire fence have hair caught in it from where a badger is squeezing underneath? Does the woodland have paths from where deer walk through? We found a deer slot in our favourite woodland ~ can you see it in the picture above? Two parallel tiny teardrop holes in the ground, probably made by a fallow deer based on its size. 

We cut circles of plastic from a plastic bottle before we set out, the perfect size for putting around the footprint, gently pressing into the ground. 

Then we mixed the plaster of Paris powder with some water (Warning: Avoid contact with skin) into a 'thick cream' consistency using a stick (above). Then pour over the footprint (below). Make sure you take everything with you after you finish. 

Leave to harden, which should take about 20 minutes. You should be able to take off the plastic circle and lift your footprint cast, ours was a little dirty (see below) so we are going to gently clean with a soft toothbrush, preferably old and not dad's! 

Our challenge is to find a badger and fox tracks over the summer, why don't you give it a go and tell us what you find? 

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