Engage youth and adults alike in an exploration of Furs, Scat, Tracks and Skulls to test their wildlife wisdom. Recently, I was asked to present to a group of scouts about wildlife and thought what better way for them to interact within the required indoor setting than to allow for hands-on inquiry based exploration of wildlife bio-facts. After a brief introduction explaining a little history of Ernest Thompson Seton and his love of wildlife that led him to pioneer the Boy Scouting of America program we were off into groups. Each group went around in the rotation before completing the circuit.

Station 1: Match the Skulls
Match the animal pictures with the skulls.  Clues or guiding questions may be given to help scouts uncover each skulls identity. Some skulls I have found while others have been given to me by hunters or wildlife professional and some are bone clones. Extension activities are numerous with skulls and allow students much closer and more meaningful examination.  (If you see students wiggling the teeth let them know the tooth fairy will know they are not their teeth!)

Station 2: Match the Scat
Match the scat picture with the animal picture.  Look closely to find clues in what the animal may have eaten (Tell the students they are scratch and sniff!). You can purchase a Scats of North America Collection or Repli-Scat from Acorn Naturalists.

Station 3. Match the Fur
Match the furs, feathers, scales and shells with the animal pictures.  You can find fur scraps from Joyce’s Antler Art or other taxidermy type businesses to be used for educational purposes. Faux fur is also available and would make for a fun fur matching zoo game for early learners. Feathers are tricky business, check with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for information.

Station 4A. Match the Tracks
Examine tracks closely to try to identify their creator. Provide questions and clues to participants to help them uncover the traits and detail and determine answers as they narrow down their ideas. Can also be done with matching animal picture cards.

Station 4B. Make & Take Animal Track Craft
Provide one clay ball to each participant to flatten on a plate. They choose an animal track to press into the clay and leave an impression (or use a plaster track to press in). You may add a hole in the clay so that when it air dries it can be hung like a necklace or an ornament.

Finally, Wildlife Jeopardy.  Pick a category and a number and have your chosen Alex Trebec read the question.  If you answer it correctly you hold on to the point value that is attached with velcro covering the answer found in picture form.  The winning player or team has the most points at the end of the game.

*More Wildlife Station Options/Ideas*
-Age deer by jaw bone display/demonstration: Let participants place the jaw bones in order showing 6 months, 1.5 years, 2.5 years, 3.5 years and beyond. Explain how biologists are able to accurately determine age after they have used their own scientific processing to make an order.

Mystery Items displayed on a Bio-Fact Touch Table.

Animal Sound Quiz: Sounds are played one at a time to be identified on an answer sheet as they are heard. I like to add foot steps in between each sound as if participants are on a hike and stop to listen. Check out Lang Elliot for excellent wildlife sound recordings.

David Alexander is author of the Buzz Into Action & Hop Into Action Science Curricula.  He enjoys making nature more accessible to people and wildlife.  You can follow him at www.natureintoaction.com

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