Home School Life Journal From Preschool to High School

Home School Life Journal ........... Ceramics by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

Winter Wednesday: Mammals in Winter

Not only can you look for animals in winter, you can look for evidence of them, especially if it has rained or snowed recently. You can also take the time now to learn about the animals that you won't see.
Keep a record of animal tracks you have observed in the snow or mud. Record your findings in your nature journal along with a drawing, the date, the weather, the time of day, and the type of animal if you have identified it at this time.
Compare a dog’s and a cat’s footprints in the snow or mud.

I have a lot of trouble identifying animal tracks, so it is difficult for me to teach my children how to identify them. I decided to use some time inside to help them learn what the different tracks look like so that when we go on our nature walks, perhaps they can better identify them.

I cut out pictures of animal tracks and layed them out on the table. Around the room I taped pictures of the corresponding animals. I gave the boys the boys a "field guide" and had them match the tracks with the animals.

They got to tape the track next to the animal when they correctly idenified the track.

Also, if you are in Eastern North America, this little book is great for track identification.
It is so small it can fit in a pocket to take with you on a nature walk.

Research an animal that hibernates and record what you learn in your nature notebook. You can also sketch your animal and what its tracks look like.

James drew fish dormant under the ice, and a raccoon hibernating. Sam drew a bear in dormancy. Quentin drew a bat in hibernation. Quentin also drew groundhogs in dormancy.

More ideas for winter nature study at the Handbook of Nature Study blog.
This was originally posted Feb. 27.2009


  1. you have such a great imagination and so creative with your schooling!! i love it! my kids really enjoy hunting for tracks when we are hiking or even in our backyard... we love nature. i think i may get that book for my science son!

  2. LOVE the photos and drawings! (We started our Mammals, but it's on hold until the oldest isn't sick and can participate.)


  3. What a terrific idea! I think identifying tracks is a difficult task too but taking the time ahead of finding them to get some idea of what to look for is perfect. Plus making a game out of it always leads to lots of learning.

    I have trouble using the Track Finder guide you featured in your post. I have yet to get the hang of it. We did find a mammal field guide for California that has tracks included in the back that I am finding easier to use. I still play a lot of guessing games which is fun to imagine what animals are out there.

    I love the drawings for their nature journal. Perfect. Thanks for sharing your link with the OHC.

  4. I know raccoons cause they look like human hands, and deer look like heart shapes, and rabbits are often in groups of three - two front feet and the back look like one because of the way they move...

  5. It sounds like your children had lots of fun learning about animal tracks!


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