The site navigation utilizes arrow, enter, escape, and space bar key commands. Left and right arrows move across top level links and expand / close menus in sub levels. Up and Down arrows will open main level menus and toggle through sub tier links. Enter and space open menus and escape closes them as well. Tab will move on to the next part of the site rather than go through menu items.
This fun page is just for you. It's loaded with fun facts, crafts, outdoor activities, jokes, games, videos, and stories. Nature-themed activities change every few months, so make sure you check back for new fun stuff to do.
Your Groundhog Friend,
Willy the Woodchuck
Winter is a great time to look for animal signs! An animal sign is anything left behind by an animal that can give you a clue about what type of animal it is and maybe even what it was doing. Keep your eyes open for tracks, scat (animal droppings), fur, feathers, chewed twigs, nests and more! Keep reading to learn how to identify which animals have been near your backyard or neighborhood.
No. 7: Smells
Some animals let off some pretty fun scents!
No. 6: Leftover food
Look at the ground and all around. Some animals leave the shells of what they eat behind.
Photo by Glenn P. Knoblock
No. 5: Fur, feathers or bones
Animals can also leave bits of fur or a feather or two, whether it’s theirs or that of their prey. You might also find some bones scattered about.
No. 4: Scat
Learn to identify animal droppings and you will be amazed at how many different animals live nearby.
No. 3: Sounds
Lots of animals make sounds! Birds, squirrels, coyotes, deer and raccoons can be heard regularly in the forest preserves.
No. 2: Homes
Animals need homes. Some are nests. Some are holes in trees. The possibilities are endless!
No. 1: Tracks in the mud or snow
Tracks cannot only tell you that an animal has been nearby, but they also provide a clue as to where they’ve come from and where they might be headed.
Make your own tracks by creating these sponge stamps! Follow the directions below to get started.
Photo by Suzy Lyttle
Get messy in the kitchen making one-of-a-kind cookies that will be sure to freak out your friends! Grab a parent to help, gather all of the ingredients and follow the procedure below:
Watch this video to follow along with Jen from Cookies, Cupcakes, and Cardio!
Walk in your neighborhood or visit a local forest preserve and complete our scavenger hunt.
DOWNLOAD THE SCAVENGER HUNT FORM
Come check out the animal track table at Isle a la Cache Museum.
Not only can you learn what animals lived in Illinois more than 300 years ago, but the table is interactive. Press the animal track replicas into the track table putty to see the awesome track prints that get left behind!
WATCH THE FULL PLAYLIST
This quiz gives you 10 tracks to identify. Select the correct animal for each track from six possible choices. Complete the quiz and see how your score compares to others!
Scientists use animal droppings or “scat” to help learn about animal diets. Scat can also be used to keep track of where an animal is located or where it is traveling. This quiz gives you 10 different scat photos to identify. Match the correct animal with its scat, and then see how your score compares to others!
Put your skills as an animal tracker to the test! Look at tracks, scat, sounds and habitat in both the “Tracking Game” and the “Mystery Critter” game. Use the clues and animal signs to guess a critter. Click for the answer to see if you were right!
Tracks in the Snow
Wong Herbert Lee
A little girl follows tracks outside her window after a fresh snowfall.
“Just outside my window,
There are tracks in the snow.
Who made the tracks? Where do they go?”
Tracks, Scats, and Signs
This book helps eager young naturalists identify wildlife though clues. Tracks, scat and other signs animals leave behind can help solve the mystery of what animals are around.
Photo by Mallory Fischer