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The Greatest Show on EarthIndian Nations Council

RAIN HIKE -Go dressed in raincoats and boots to observe nature in the rain.

COLLECTING HIKE -Collect whatever your family show an interest in: rocks, leaves, shells, seeds, fossils, insects, oddly shaped sticks.

Tracks Of All Kinds

How To Cast Animal Tracks


Plaster of Paris

A measuring cup

A tin can (2 lb coffee can)

Paper cups

Strips of light cardboard (2" wide, 12-24 inches long)

An old toothbrush


Paper Clips

A mud bank near a stream is a good place to look for tracks. After a rain, look around sandbars, ditches and gullies.  When you find a good, sharp imprint, clear the ground around it.  Be careful not to disturb the print.

Encircle the print with light cardboard strip. Secure with paper clips. Press the paper collar into the ground, so the poured plaster doesn't seep out.  If the ground is too hard, build up dirt around the outside of the collar.  If the print is in loose sand, spray it with a cheap hair spray to prevent its crumbling.  If the ground is very muddy, sprinkle some dry plaster on the print and the area around it to soak up excess moisture before proceeding.  

Mix plaster of paris in the tin can.  Use about 1 2/3 cups plaster to one cup water. You need a consistency like pancake batter - neither too thick or too thin.  Stir until it's smooth and creamy.  Let stand in can two or three minutes, then pour slowly and gently into track.  Let set about 30 minutes, then pick up cast gently, brush off dirt.

Note: The first cast of the animal's track is the negative. The second cast or positive shows the track as it actually looked on the ground. This can be painted to emphasize the track.

To make the positive cast, smear the 'negative' with a coat of vaseline.  Mix plaster as before. Set collar around negative.  Pour in plaster. When nearly dry, scrape date, location, animal's name, etc. on back of cast for a record.  When hard, remove the 'positive'.

Tree Tracks

Other places to look for tracks are on leaves and tree trunks. Have you ever wondered about those lace-like trails on leaves or fancy carvings on the surface of wood? They're footprints! Leaf miners are the larvae of insects that live within leaves and feed on the leaf's internal tissues.

Bark beetles also leave tunnel tracks. Adult beetles carve out a tunnel under the bark of trees then they lay their eggs.

If you find bark in the area, look for tiny holes. This is where the beetle emerges when it becomes an adult. It bores a hole to get out of the tree where it hatched and flies to a new tree.

Leaf Prints

You can make permanent copies of your favorite leaves using plaster of paris.

Materials you will need:

A leaf

Plaster of Paris

Shallow dish that is bigger than the leaf

Page XBugs, Bark, Birds, and Boys

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