Dinosaur Train: Footprints and Trackways
Learning Goal: Help children learn about the different kinds of footprints that common modern animals leave behind. Make a "stamp" of a Tyrannosaurus footprint, and create a T. rex trackway.
Related Episodes: "Buddy the Tracker"
Subjects: Science, Art
Discuss the footprints and trackways of dinosaurs and modern animals. Use a pattern to create T. rex footprints and trackways in your classroom.
- Butcher Block Paper
- Small paint roller (such as for linoleum block prints) OR small paint pads
- Washable painting clothes
- Printable pages for "Mystery Footprints," "Comparing Dinosaur Trackways," and a "T. rex Trackway" pattern (1 set with all pages; 4.89MB)
Related Video Clip
Dinosaur Train: "Buddy the Tracker" (4 minutes 1 second)
- Show the printout "Mystery Footprints" page. Ask students to see if they can identify any of the animals to which these prints belong. If they are stumped, reveal the animal names one at a time and ask, "Which of these footprints do you think was made by a dog?" Put a check next to each footprint as it is identified.
- Explain that one of the ways we know about dinosaurs that lived millions of years ago is by looking for fossils of footprints. Not only were dinosaur bones preserved from millions of years ago – but also some of their footprints. If a dinosaur stepped in mud or sand, sometimes this imprint was later preserved in stone. Dinosaur footprints are very rare – but some have been found. Scientists have a special name for a group of animal footprints: trackways. Ask students to think about what information you can learn about an animal by seeing its trackways (versus just one or two footprints). You can learn how fast the animal may have walked, for example by looking at how far apart the footprints are.
- Watch the above video clip from "Buddy the Tracker." Discuss what kinds of details Buddy and the others noticed. How many toes did the animal have? What was the shape of their feet? How big were the footprints? How far apart were its steps?
- Help students create their own T. rex trackways (footprints). Print out two copies of the "Make a T. rex Trackway" page, glue them to pieces of cardboard, then cut them out. Attach a horizontal strap across each T. rex "footprint" so students can "wear" them and stomp across the floor like a T. rex. Explain that an adult T. rex footprint was much larger (about 3 feet long) but the picture on the page is the same size as a young T. rex footprint.
- Roll up pant legs (if necessary) and use a paint roller to apply paint on bottom of each "footprint." Have each student walk across a long piece of butcher block paper to create a trackway that a Tyrannosaurus might have left.
- On a hot day, you can have fun creating foot and handprints with nothing more than a light-colored sidewalk and water. By wetting your feet before your walk, or run, you can create a way for others to see your path. You can play a game in which you challenge your friends to walk in your footprints.
- Explore a muddy, sandy, or snow-covered section of ground in your area. Can you find any animal footprints? You can take along a camera to take pictures of any animal tracks you find, or you can use a notebook and pencil to make a sketch of any discoveries. You can later go to the library to find field guides of local wildlife to see if you can identify the tracks you found.
- Another fun way to make animal tracks is to create a "stamp" by cutting an uncooked potato in half, or cutting a kitchen sponge into the shape of animal prints, and using paint on this stamp to create various trackways