Young children are natural scientists because they are curious, inventive and unendingly interested in the world around them. If you encourage those traits in your preschooler now, science class will be a blast when she gets older. Animals fascinate your little one anyway, so why not expand on that with some activities to help her learn animal paw prints?
1. Find Prints
Go for a walk in a natural area with your preschooler. Pretend to be detectives searching for clues on the ground, or hunters tracking an animal. Try to find paw prints in mud or snow, and guess which animals made them. Draw or take photos of the prints and compare them to those in books. If you can't find any prints on your own, check your local natural history museum for exhibits about paw prints.
2. Fun and Games
Keep the excitement going with games about paw prints. You can make your own memory match game by printing out a set of animal faces and a set of animal prints and gluing each to index cards. Lay them face down on the table and have your preschooler try to find a match. Or, make a game where each person has to pick a paw print card at random and then make the sound that the animal makes.
3. Animal Print Books
Check your local library or bookstore for books about animal prints. Read them often and encourage your child to use them as a reference to help identify tracks she finds in nature or at museums. Inspire your child to make her own book about paw prints by providing her with pictures of animal tracks and their corresponding animals for her to color and assemble into a book. If she is comfortable with letters, ask her to copy the name of each animal to the correct page.
4. Make Paw Prints
Use play dough and realistic animal figurines to make your own prints and compare them to pictures of real prints. Or encourage your pet dog or cat to run across a field of snow or a muddy patch of lawn and observe the tracks they leave behind. With a bit of patience, you can carve out an animal paw print stamp out of a potato for your child to dip in paint and stamp on to paper.