Animal Signs

Animal Ecology
| 4th Grade - Adult
| Half Day 3 hrs
| Moderate


Students will learn, by tracking animals out of doors, the variety of evidence left behind by animals and what we can learn about them from that evidence.  During spring, summer, and fall, they will also practice the research techniques of radio telemetry.

Class Outline

I. Introduction

A. Greeting/Grabber

B. Learn Names

C. Behavior Guidelines

D. Class Overview

E. Assess Learner Level

 II. Observation Game

III. Kinds of Signs

A. Tracks and Trails

B. Scat and Urine

C. Eat Marks

D. Homes

E. Body Parts

F. Territorial Markings

G. Sounds and Smells

IV. Thistle Porcupine Visit

A. Equipment and Site Arrangement

B. Small Group Research

V. Search for Signs 

VI. Final Activity

A. Radio Tracking (spring, summer, fall)

B. Small Group Research

VII. Conclusion 

A. Review

B. Stewardship Action

Concepts and Outcomes


  • Observation of direct and indirect evidence is a valuable skill and learning tool
  • All living things acquire physical and behavioral adaptations to be successful in their environment
  • A rich habitat will support a greater number of species than a poor habitat.
  • All living and non-living components of an environment interact with one another to form an ecosystem.
  • Awareness, knowledge and appreciation lead to an understanding of our impact on the environment.


Upon completion of the Animal Signs class students will be able to:

  1. Apply observation skills in finding and identifying animal signs.
  2. Examine animal signs and infer the animal’s behavior.
  3. List animals living in the Wolf Ridge area.
  4. Describe how either radio telemetry or motion sensing cameras can be used in wildlife research.
  5. Recognize humans as animals and note the abundance of human signs in our world.
  6. Describe actions they can take to maintain and enhance animal populations.

Standards Supported

Next Generation Standards Grade Code
Organisms, and populations of organisms, are dependent on their environmental interactions both with other living things and with nonliving factors. Middle School (6-8) MS-LS2-1
Growth of organisms and population increases are limited by access to resources. Middle School (6-8) MS-LS2-1

Extension Activities

Writing Prompts

Imagine you are a rabbit.  Write about your day in first person- where do you go? What do you see? What do you eat? What predators do you encounter?

  • What are potential human impacts on an animal’s environment? How can we lessen our negative impact?


Additional Resources