animal tracks

How to Cast Animal Tracks with Kids (or Adults!)

Here's a great way to get your children excited about the great outdoors. Casting animal tracks gives them something tangible that they can hold onto for years.

Want to get your kids more interested in nature and wildlife? Then give them something easy that they can do and actually get their hands on and hold. Casting animal tracks is a fantastic learning tool.

If you were a scout growing up you may remember this fun nature activity. But don't think that it's just a project for kids. Adults can do it too. A display of cast animal tracks at trapping conventions or at a rendevouz always seems to attract just as many grown-ups as it does kids.

Casting tracks helps solidify memories in the field and the castings look pretty cool on a mantelpiece or window ledge.

You can use plaster of paris, but dental molding is more durable and is easy to use. You can get a pound of dental molding, or alginate powder, online for around $12. You can also get it in some big box stores.

As Clay Hayes says in the video, first make a ring with some thin cardboard. Then mix the alginate powder with water to the consistency of pancake batter. Clean the area of the track as best you can to create a smooth, debris-free surface. Pour the molding batter into the ring over the track and let it harden.

Then let it cure overnight before brushing off the rest of the dirt and debris from the cast. It's as simple as that.

But if you are doing this project with your kids, remember to use the experience as a teaching moment. Discuss the critter that made the track, a little bit about its behavior and why it may have been in the area where its tracks were found.

This is a great way to cement memories - pun intended - in the field with your children, teach them about nature, and even enhance your own experiences afield.

Like what you see here? You can read more great articles by David Smith at his facebook page, Stumpjack Outdoors.

NEXT: Make Up a Batch of Pemmican, Historic Backcountry Super Food