Tracks and signs

Children become animal detectives to establish the presence of mammals in the conservation area in order to prevent the council from building a car park on the conservation area

Tracks and Signs
Learning outcome

To find and record evidence of mammals in a woodland habitat and use this to identify different species.

Key Stubbington focus

Environment - mammals

  • For Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2
  • Duration 1 hour
Success criteria
  • I can explain what a mammal is
  • I can predict what evidence I might find and where I could find it
  • I can use an information sheet to identify what type of mammal left the evidence I found
Session plan


Set the scene by explaining that a builder has been in the conservation area looking for a suitable place to build a car park for visitors to the beach. Explain to children that they will be ‘animal detectives’ with the job of looking around the conservation area for clues to help prove that it’s an important habitat for mammals. Discuss what a mammal is and the types of evidence that might be found – it may help them to think back to the badger talk. Examples can include droppings, homes, prints, paths, hair/fur, food remains and scratches.


Children work in pairs (or threes if a large group - check with Stubbington staff) in the conservation area. Differentiated information sheets are provided which will help children to identify the evidence they find. Each pair will need an information sheet, a recording sheet (which has a ruler down the side of the page for measuring the evidence they find), a clipboard and a pencil. After 35 minutes, blow a whistle to signal the end of the searching time and children should then return to the meeting point.


Back at the meeting place, review the evidence that has been found by the children. Which mammals do they think are living in the conservation area?

Less able children

Can be given a pictorial information sheet to help them identify the evidence they find and may need extra adult support when searching in the conservation area.

More able children

Can use a more descriptive identification sheet.

Previsit activities

  • Discuss what a mammal is
  • Practice using keys for identification

Follow up activities

  • Take a copy of our identification sheets back to school to find out if there is any evidence of mammals living in the grounds
  • Make a plaster cast of an animal print
Health and safety checks
  • Children must always be in pairs and know where to find an adult if separated
  • Children should not pick up droppings and keep hands away from faces
  • Hands must be washed at the end of the session
  • Remind children of hazards in conservation area e.g. ponds, ditches, uneven ground