Here at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, we’re batting down the hatches for the impending storm. One upside to some serious snowfall is that it’ll leave behind the perfect medium for animal tracks. Check out these tracks I found in the garden after our last snowfall – proof of a real critter party! Sometimes, I want to tell our visitors to go grab their coats from coat check and come out to the garden for some winter exploration, but alas, it’s quite a trek up our rainbow subway tunnel.
The garden is more hospitable in the spring and summer, but animal tracks can be harder to spot, especially when we want to avoid trampling the plants. We solve this problem by planting animal tracks in the sidewalk-accessible soil for kids to find and identify. We also have a great collection of animal print stamps for our little ecologists to explore.
We found this to be a great math connection for kids. In one "Extraordinary Laboratory" program, we got out rulers and put down huge sheets of butcher paper. After the kids went ink-crazy with the stamps, they traced their own hands (and even feet!) and compared measurements. The could ask: Is my hand bigger or smaller than a bear paw? What about a muskrat claw? We talked about what we can know about the animal by the length of their claws or the size of their foot pads.
Our animal prints also come with some alarmingly realistic “scat” models. For real naturalists, scat serves as a better marker for local fauna. Our newest science educator, Jordan, recalled this nifty rhyme for remembering the scientific (and more polite) term for animal droppings. Enjoy and stay safe and warm through the storm!
It starts with an S
And it ends with a T
It comes out of you
And it comes out of me
No….don’t call it THAT!
Be scientific, and call it….SCAT!