Animal Tracks: Lesson Ideas for ages 4-7

Here’s a really fun lesson idea connected to animals, animal movement, literacy, science and just plain fun!  Use ANIMAL TRACKS: Some Basics found at the end of the lesson for ‘authentic’ animal movement ideas.


Moving Like Animals


Animal Tracks: Some Basics


Bibliographic Suggestions

Duffy, Dee Dee.  Forest Tracks.  Boyds Mills Press, 1996

Dorros, Arthur.  Animal Tracks.  Scholastic, Inc. New York.  1991

Ways of walking like animals (Start from spread to personal space)

Do half group watch, half group do, then trade.

Explore ways of moving around the room.

Bear Walk

Crab Walk

Bird Walk (and flutter, fly)

Frog Hop

Snake Slither

Horse Gallop

Lizard Dart

Cat Prowl

Elephant Lumber

Kangaroo Hop

Squirrel Scamper

Tortoise Trundle

As you explore, combine ways of walking with pathways and directions.

Making Animal Tracks (Start in flanking lines for across the room)

            Refer to Animal Tracks: Some Basics


Diagonal Walking



Extension Idea: Repeat tracks with additional things to think about:

Pick an animal you’d like to be.  What do you look like?

Are you short or are you tall?

Are you big or are you small?

Are you heavy or are you light?

Do you move by day, or by night?

Are you quick or are you slow?

Do you move high, do you move low?
Do you stop and go?

What do you look like?  I don’t know?

Where are you?

in the woods

in the meadow

in the desert

in the rainforest

Going Further: Notice carefully how you use your fingers and toes.

Do you need your whole hand and foot?

Finger tips?  Toes only?

Heel of your hand?  Sole of your foot?

A mix of these things?

How would you move your parts?  Head?  Neck?  Arms?  Legs?  Torso?

How would you:  Eat?  Drink water?


Extension Activity 1: Small groups form based on a specific animal, sit in individual circles.

Choreographic Assignment (3-5 minutes)

1. Decide how to move to the center of the space as your animal

2. Perform some type of action in the middle of your circle as your animal OR

Travel around the circle as your animal

3. Decide how to move back out to the edge of the circle as your animal

Then, all groups sit in large, semi-circle (if performance-based) OR large circle (if process-based).  Show dances one by one.


Extension Activity 2: Read Forest TracksDuffy, Dee Dee.  Boyds Mills Press, 1996

This book uses the format of Listen (the sounds the animal would make), Look (the tracks the animal would make), See (picture of the animal).
As you read, have children guess what animal is coming next, before you turn the page for See.

To dance the book, use the story following the format of Extension Activity 1. Use the text to shape the dance, with everyone making body percussion sounds on Listen! Small groups decide ahead of time which of the animals in the book they want to be, and go in, group by group, for rabbit, deer, raccoon, etc.

For skunk, everyone goes in, bit by bit.  Teacher comes in as skunk, and everyone scurried back to his spot on the circle.
Decide with the group what to do for the jeep tracks at the end, or don’t include it in your story dance.

based on material from “Into Winter” by William P. Nestor

PACING done by dogs, cats, foxes, deer
Both limbs on one side (right) move, then both on the other (left).  Track fairly far apart, forming a zig-zag pattern.

DIAGONAL WALKING done by animals with wide bodies and short legs (racoons, skunks, woodchucks)

hind left foot and front right foot move, then hind right foot and front left foot.

BOUNDING done by slender, long bodied animals with short legs (weasel, mink, otter)

front feet go together, then hind feet follow as a pair.

when walking, hind tracks fall behind front.

when running, hind fall into front tracks, or even a little ahead of front tracks

GALLOPING done by animals with short forefeet and long hind legs (rabbits, hares, squirrels, some mice)

similar to bounding, but hind feet land on either side or ahead of forefeet

RUNNING done by shrews, voles

combines running and galloping.  similar to diagonal walking, but with tracks wider apart



October 24, 2012. Tags: , , , . Creating, Creative Dance Lesson Plans, Seasonal Lessons.

One Comment

  1. Kerry Bevens replied:

    Thank you so much Kate!  It sounds like to much fun!  I think I will start this Monday……….How many classes would you suggest I spend on this before a performance?  4-5 spending about 10 minutes per class??  I don’t want to over rehearse, but want the kids to feel confident. 

    Many thanks as always!



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