Little Explorers: Keeping Track

Spotting wildlife on a camping trip creates lasting memories for the whole family. Most wildlife, however, is active at dawn and dusk or at night when we are tucked into our sleeping bags fast asleep. Although you may not see wildlife on your next camping trip, you can spot animals’ activity by searching for tracks in the soft mud or sand along riverbanks and trails. With a few simple materials, you can create an animal track casting—a unique and wild keepsake of your discoveries.



  • Animal tracks identification book
  • Plaster of Paris in a re-sealable bag
  • 1 pop bottle
  • Scissors
  • Water
  • Stick
  • Plastic straw
  • String



1. Search for animal and bird tracks in soft ground or mud. Use a track identification book to discover which animal left the imprint.

2. Clean any loose leaves or twigs out of the track.

3. Cut the bottom off the plastic pop bottle to create a small bowl. Then, cut a ring of plastic, at least 10 cm wide, from the plastic bottle.

4. Place ring around the track, pushing lightly into the ground to create a seal. In the ring, press the straw vertically into the ground above the track.

5. Dump the plaster of Paris into the pop bottle bowl and add water, stirring with a stick until it reaches a thick, smooth and creamy consistency like pancake batter.

6. Carefully pour the plaster in the ring over the track and let it dry for at least one hour.

7. Brush sand and dirt off the track casting. Cut the straw flush with the top of the track and thread a piece of string through the hole to hang it.

8. Paint it, collect more and tell a story about your animal track at the campfire.


 This article originally appeared in Canoeroots & Family Camping, Spring 2010. Download our freeiPad/iPhone/iPod Touch App or Android App or read it here.


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