TENNIS SHOE DETECTIVES
SHARON K. HEINDEL
INTRODUCTIONGrade Level: 2-4
Time: Approximately one and a half hours, or 45 minutes on two consecutive days.
Purpose: This exercise encourages students to make observations, examine data, and form hypotheses. These are concrete skills that easily transfer to other science activities.
Overview: Sets of class footprints are made using flour, ground chalk, or light soil and black or colored construction paper. Groups of students write a mystery story involving some of the tracks, and then draw a picture of the tracks and trails to illustrate their story.
MATERIALSFlour, ground chalk, or light powdery soil is placed in a dishpan. Black or colored construction paper for shoe prints. Spray adhesive or extra control hair spray to seal the powdery tracks. Sample picture of several types of tracks and paths that cross. The tracks have different spacing at times and crisscross back and forth. The tracks may include non- living items like tire tracks or evidence that something was dragged.
PROCEDURES The teacher provides a picture of several different types of tracks and paths that cross (see three samples below). The teacher reveals only parts of the picture at a time. The students discuss what might be happening in the picture. As each new section is revealed, the students refine their ideas and expand on the story.
Finally the whole track picture is seen and the students write stories about what happened to make the tracks.
The students discuss the clues that the tracks may give and how they are used to make their guesses.
Students stand in the flour and then on the paper to record their own tracks.
Tracks are sprayed with adhesive to seal the flour.
The tracks are labeled with student names and displayed on a wall for reference. The students then create their own track pictures and write stories about them, which they present like the teacher.
The rest of the class tries to guess what is happening in the student pictures and stories.
Extension: Compare these tracks to authentic trackways for students to interpret.
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