Forest Classroom

Tracking: Putting it all Together

Week 4

This week Emily was out, so Ciara, our education intern, and I led Forest Classroom together. It was a blast! We had a very cold, but sunny day together. We started off with some freeplay to keep our bodies moving and warm. There was a lot of sledding and shoveling happening! 

We tried every mound of snow big enough to sled down in the yard! Photo: Audubon Vermont
digging in the snow
Digging a tunnel through the snow bank. Photo: Audubon Vermont

We also had a special bird moment. I noticed that a Common Redpoll left one of our feeders and landed on a snow bank just in front of the education barn. It sat still for about 10 minutes or so and didn't seem bothered by the audience. Our best guess is that it was sunning itself to keep warm. 

Redpoll in snow
Redpoll sunning itself in the snow on a cold winter day. Photo: Audubon Vermont

After free play, we filled the bird feeders on the porch and tried to feed them by hand again. One of our students got SO close! A Chickadee lingered on a branch less than a foot from his hand. 

filling feeders
Feeding our feathered friends! Photo: Audubon Vermont
feeding by hand
Doing our best to stay quiet & still enough for the birds. No luck yet! Photo: Audubon Vermont
feeding by hand
Chickadee circled! So close! Photo: Audubon Vermont

Then, it was time for us to warm up around the fire and enjoy snack. Once we fueled our bodies, we moved back into the sun of the front yard to practice our tracking skills. Over the last few weeks we have broken tracking down into different steps: place, pattern and print. We have a big tracking board with different prints painted onto it in the pattern they would appear in real life. To start, I gave all students a copy of our tracking guide and the chance to explore the board to see if they could independently ID any. Next, we walked through each set of tracks together. Some tracks were more obvious, like the white-tailed deer or mouse, while others really stumped us. Some tracks were too close to call by shape, so we counted the number of toes, whether or not the animal had claws and measured the size of the foot. 

Studying the tracking board and working through tracks one by one. Photo: Audubon Vermont
Checking our tracking sheets to see if the tracks on the board match. Photo: Audubon Vermont
Using the tracking sheet to ID tracks on the tracking board. Photo: Audubon Vermont

Once we finished tracking, we scouted for fresh tracks around the office building and pretending to make some of our own by crawling on all fours.

Crawling like some winter mammals! Photo: Audubon Vermont

We ended our day with free play until adults started arriving. See you next week! 

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