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Habitat Hunt
Additional Activities
These activities may be used to supplement those indicated in the ANSC
Trailwalk Guide in order to lend focus and objective to the hiking experience.
The activities are are organized for grade/age level. Materials needed to
implement the activities will be provided in a Habitat Hunt leader's pack.
Materials provided in the Habitat Hunt pack are:
1. Animal track poster
2. Scat boxes
3. Chalkboard and chalk
4. Paint chip cards
5. "Magic Windows"
6. Bandana
7. String
8. Scissors
Introduction to the Zilker Nature Preserve
The Zilker Nature Preserve is a 60 acre preserve dedicated in 1984 as a
habitat for Austin plants and animals. The Zilker Preserve is one of 13 preserves
in Austin. These are lands set aside to protect our native plants and wildlife
habitats. These preserves are important for endangered animals such as the
golden cheeked warbler, and also for t h ~ plants and water all living things need.
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Introduction to Habitat Hunt
Activities K-5 .
1. Track Memory
2. Scat boxes
3. List animals thought to be in forest
4. Give tips on looking for signs of wildlife
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Activities for Trailwalk
Pre-K -2
1. Color Savenger Hunt---Students work in pairs. Give each pair a paint
chip card. They match objects they find as
closely as possible to the paint cards. Be sure
they leave the objects where they were found.
2. Duplication
3. Magic Windows·
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Activi ties for Trailwalk
Grades K-5
1. Webbing
2. Bird Calling
3. Nature Knowledge
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Extra Activities
1. List of Forest Awareness Activities
2. Identification Game
3. Scavenger Hunt
4. How Old Was That Tree?
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Track Memory
MATERIALS
Field guide
Paper or cardstock
Scissors
Pencil
A Cut the paper o ~ card stock
V into pieces the size of
playing cards. Draw animal
tracks on the pieces of paper.
Use a field guide to find out
what the tracks should look
like. If you want, make more
than one of the same track.
Lay the papers in ~ stack, face
down like a deck of cards. Take
turns picking a "card" off the
top of the stack and naming the
animal that made the track. If
you answer correctly, keep the
card with the track you identi-
fied. If not, put the paper under
the stack and let the na.xt player
take a turn. You can keep score,
or just play for fun. If there are
questions about the tracks, be
sure to look them up in the
guide.
1.
Guess whose tracks these are.
)
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Scat Boxes
Scat is indicative of the types of animals living in a forest. We often do not
see the animals themselves beacause they hear us coming and they hide from us.
We can often, however, identify animals in our area by identifying th!ir scat.
Here are three types of scat we may commonly see in the preserve: d e ~ r , raccoon,
and armadillo.
Examination of the scat can tell us what sort of diet an animal has. The
location of the scat indicates where we might be able to see an animal if we sit
quietly and watch at the right time of day. Raccoons and armadillos are
nocturnal. Deer are crepuscular-they come out to eat at dawn and dusk.
List Animals Thought to Be in Forest
Ask students what kind of animals they think might be in the forest. You
may want to use the chalkQoard to·record their guesses. At the end of the walk
you may review the list to see how many of those animals' signs you have seen.
This list may also be expanded to include plants and trees.
Look For Signs of Wildlife
Activities
1. How to Find Animal Homes
2. Watch For Wildlife
3. Insect Hunt
u Scat Boxes
Scat is indicative of the types of animals living in a forest. We often do not
see the animals themselves beacause they hear us coming and they hide from us.
We can often, however, identify animals in our area by identifyiI:tg th!ir scat.
Here are three types of scat we may commonly see in the preserve: deer, raccoon,
and armadillo.
Examination of the scat can tell us what sort of diet an animal has. The
location of the scat indicates where we might be able to see an animal if we sit
quietly and watch at the right time of day. Raccoons and armadillos are
nocturnal. Deer are crepuscular-they come out to eat at dawn and dusk.
List Animals Thought to Be in Forest
U Ask students what kind of animals they think might be in the forest. You
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may want to use the ch.al.k1?oard to record their guesses. At the end of the walk
you may review the list to see how many of those' animals I signs you have seen.
This list may also be expanded to include plants and trees.
Look For Signs of Wildlife
Activities.
1. How to Find Animal Homes
2. Watch For Wildlife
3. Insect Hunt
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Debbie Bess
lAEE Conference
Purpose: Forest awareness activities are used to bring about a sense of wonder in the forest These
activities can be: used to be:Jp students comfQrtable being in the outdoor classroom. The 3CU\1ties
can also be used to concepts covered in the classroom. Students will use their obsetV3lion
skills, prediction :skiDs, and problem soIling skiDs. .. "
.
Maten:ds: Paper, pencil bandanna, paint color cards, string, hard sut&ce to write on (optional)
Acth1tfes:
K ... • Forest conununiry survey hike- List the Jiving things believed to be in this forest. When finisht:d
hike through the forest and find c:Yidence that each living thing emu. For example, Spiders lh-e: in
the forest E.,idence that a spider lives here would be.a web or seeing the spider.
• ABC Hike- While walking through the forest the students find objects that begin with A. then B,
and so on. ,.
• Sound mapping- Students sit in one place and document 1he sounds they hear in map form.
• Color Scavenger Hunt- Students use paint chip cards. They match natural objects they find as
closely as. possible to the paint cards. Be sure ther leave the objects where they were found.
4 - t.." r ]oumaHng- This is a method. of sketching things in nature. It helps the artist begin
to observe nature more closely.
4 -I..p Poetry- Write poetry about thc: forest using any fOrIn ofpoetly such as cinquain. free vers.e
allit..ontions, or triplets.
K • Ban\huma SC:l\"enger Hunt- Hide five objects under :1 bandanna. The students . get 20 seconds to
memorize the After the 20 recover the objects and have students tty to find
objecTS identical to the onc:s under the: bandanna.
'1 - lop • Dollar LeafHWlt- Students find a leafancl write a careful description oCit nus should be
done: l\oithout others seeing their lea! Then, all the leaves are put in a pile in the center oCthe group.
Each student reads their description and lets the rest of the group try to figure out which leaf
, bdongs to the .
.3 - "" • Intersection Floor Study· Stretch a ten Coot long piece of suing on the gIOWld. ObselVe: and list
natural objects that come within six inches of either side of the string. identify the plana if posSIble.
make inferences about what son of relationships exist between each of these things.
l..{ ... (., • Interview A Tree- Have smdents make up a written account oC an i:nte:rview betwetn Ihemse!\'es
and a tree. Topics for discussion could include the tree's age. historical events of the area.. wt3Iher.
inhabitants of the the tree's hopes and dreams and concems.
RESOl'RCES:
• Project Jflild Wilily ,,,ide
·Sharing :VaIlITC M'ill, CJUJdren by
c c.
Scavenger Hunt
..,:on"
MATERIALS
Pencil
Paper
A One player makes a list of
V 20 easy-to-find things.
Some good ideas are leaves,
twigs, flowers, feathers, insects,
berries, seeds, pinecones,
rocks-anything you have
around camp.
Divide up into pairs or teams
of players. Give each team 'a
list, and send them out to
search for as many items as
they can find within a certain
time limit. A grown-up should
go with each team to be sure no
one gets lost.
Don't take the items away from
where you found them. Pick
someone from each team to
make a list of what items were
seen and where they were found.
When you get back to camp.
compare what each team found.
How Old Was That Tree?
F
ind a tree stump and count
its rings. Each ring is one
yea r i nth e ..J.i f e oft hat t r e e .
Many trees are as old as 500 to
1,000 years old!
Look at each ring-is it thin
or thick? When a ring is thin,
the tree didn't grow much that
year. This could be due to lack
of rain or an early winter. If the
ring is thick, the tree probably
received' a lot of water; there
were good growing conditions
that year. Look for dark rings.
If you find a ring that is darker
than the others, the tree proba-
bly survived a forest' fire.
Count back to the year you
were born. Can you find it? See
if you can fi nd a tree with 100
rings. Isn't it amazing how
long it takes a tree to grow
only a few inches around?
Look for the years your lJlother
and father were born, tab.
There are many stories that
this stump can tell. How many
can you find?
Count the rings to see how
old the tree was 'when it
was cut down";
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• Rings are thin
---during dry years.
Rings are thick when
..-------- there is plenty of rain.
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IS is a good game for getting children interested
in rocks, plants. and animals. Before a$sembJing
the children to play, secretly gather from the
immediate area about 10 common natural ob-
jects, such as rocks, seeds, conifer cones, plant parts, and
some signs of animal activity. Lay the objects out on a
handkerchief and cover them with another handkerchief.
Call the children close around you and tell them, "Under
tha c10ih are 10 MlUralobjects that you71 be able to
find netlrby. I will lift the handkeI'Chie/ for 25 seconds so
you am take a good look and try to remember every-
thing you see. II
After looking at the objects. the children spread out
and coUect identical items, keeping their findings to
themselves. After five minutes of searching, call them
back. Dramatically pull out the objects from under the
handkerchief, one at a time. telling interesting stories
about each one. As each object is presented. ask the
children if they found one just like it.
Children have a lively curiosity about the kinds of
things- you'l show them - rocks. seeds. plan ts, and so on.
When you repeat the game several times, it has a notice·
able strengthening effect on the child's concentration
and memory.
Duplication
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Windows
BackgrQund InfornlatiQD
Magic Windows is an activity developed at the Heard MUseul11 designed to
introduce young children to the diversity of life. Anyone standing on a
lawn in the late spring or early summer would find it;hard to picture
any other plant in the lawn except grass. However, in all but the most intensively
cared for ]a\\'DS, nature has its way and diversity sneaks in. It is this diverse plant life
that ?\1agic Windows addresses.
\\Then anyone, from the rough edged nov.ice to a seasoned Ecologist, stands in
an area where a plant survey is to be done the size of the task can appear
overwhelming. The trick is the break the area into small units and this is the Magic
in the Magic Windo\\'s.
Procedure
Each child.receives one Magic Wmdow and a quart size zip]ock bag 'of paper
sand\\'ich bag. At the site ,ask the what kinds of plants are covering the
ground. The usual answer is grass and only grass. Use the Magic Window to try to
fmd other kinds of plants in the lawn that are not grass. .
To use the Window, toss it onto the lawn with your eyes closed. Collect a leaf
or flower for every plant inside the Window that is not grass. Put the things you
collect into the ziplock bag.
Back in the classroom place your collections on the clear acetate and cover it
with clear contact paper. Punch a hole in the top of your hanging and thread a
string through it. Hang it in a bright window to show off the colors and shapes in
the sunlight.
Materials
1 wire coat hanger per student
1 12" length of orange surveyors tape per
child
1 6" x 8" clear acetate per child
1 6" x 8" clear contact paper per child
1 12" piece of string per child
1 hole punch per class
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HRE .IS GAME that makes very clear the es-
sential mterrelationships among all the mem-
bers o.r nature's community. Webbing vividly portrays
how all t rocks, plants, and animals function together in
a,balanced web of life.
children form a circle: The leader stands inside
the cucle near the edge, with a ball of string: "Who can
12Ilme a plant that grows in this area? ... Brodillea. ' ..
Here, Miss Brodiaea, you hold the end of the
stnng. /s there an anin1Q/ living around here that might
ellt the bro,dillea? .. Rabbits! . .. Ah. a sumptuous meal
Mr. Rabbit. take hold of the string here; you are
connected to MIss Brodiaea by your dependence on her
fl?wers for your lunch. Now. who needs Mr. Rabbit for
his lunch?"

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': conneaul'" ,. with their
ttlationshlp'ho-ttre rest of the group emerge. Bri,ng in
DeW elements and considerations, such as other ammals.
1Oil, water and so on, until the entire circle of children is
Ittung together in a symbol of the web of life. You have
created your own ecosystem.
To demonstrate how each individual is important to
the whole community, take away by some plausible
means one member of the web. For example. a fire or a
logger kills a tree. When the tree falls, it tugs on the
strings it holds; anyone who feels a tyg in his string is in
SOme way affected by the death of the tree. Now every-
one who felt a tug from the tree gives a tug. The process
COntinues until every individual is shown to be affected
by the destruction of the tree.
B
RD watchers ("bird-
ers tt) have tradition-
ally been thought of
as eccentric types
who trudge about the woods
and climb trees with unruly
collections of notebookS,biD-
oculars and cameras. But if
you ever get a chance to
observe birds closely, you'D
discover that they're beauti-
ful to see and listen to, and
utterly fascinating in their habits. You may find yourself
not only understanding the birders' obsession but cateb.
ing it yourselfl '
In the. bird. world you'll find exquisite beauty and
ummagmable homeliness; perfect grace and total
power and gentle humility; silent
soanng 10 ranfied heights, and earthy cackling and
squabbling.
There !s a bird call that you ca.n easily 4o.with no
more equIpment than your own mouth. It attracts many
of. the smaller species: sparrows, warblers, jays, vireos,
hummingbirds, flycatchers, bush-
tits,.onoles, kinglets, wrens, and others. In the following
sectIon on predator calls, you will learn to attract some
of the larger birds.
The call consists of a series of rhythmically-repeated
"?sssh" sounds. Different rhythms work with different
bl,rds. Here are a couple of simple rhythms you can start
WIth:
j>ssh . . . . . . pssh . . . . . . pssh . . . . . . ,
pssh . . . . . pssh . . . . . pssh-pssh ..•.. pssh . . . . . pssh
Each of these series should last about three seconds.
Experiment to find the rhythms that work best for the
birds in your area.
For the best results when you use this call wait until
you hear- birds nearby, then kneel or stand
101
shrubs or trees that will partially hide you and give
birds some thing to land on. Begin calling the series,
after three or four rounds to listen for incoming
The birds will respond quickly if. they are going to
at all. Some birds, like rufous-lided towhees, will
to the nearest lookout post to find out what is going
Others, like the wrentit, win slowly, warily come
. When the birds have come near, a single series or
couple of notes may be all you'll need to keep them
. I think the reason this call works is that the
" sound resembles many birds' scolding call.
naturalists believe it sounds like a mother bird's
call to her young; others,. that it merely provokes
birds' curiosity.)
Smaller birds dislike the presence of predators and
frequently mob a hawk or owl in hopes of driving it
While hiking high in the Sierras, a group of Boy
and I experienced a dramatic case of bird-mob-
We were in the middle of a low.growing alder thick-
When a pine marten scampered into view just eight
away. (Pine martens are related to the weasels and
about the size of a small domestic cat. They are agile
rs and snatch birds as part of their diet.) .
We gave our "distress call," and in no more than a
tninute ten eager birds had gathered to rescue us. They
landed very close to the marten, scolding him ferven tly I
and indignantly until he decided to move on. ..
Children enjoy using this call. Many times I've been '
. Witli groups of children who lay _
silently on the forest floor.
completely absorbed in watch·
. ing the birds that flew in overhead
Coming in answer to the children's signals.
Nature Knowledge
MATERIALS
Paper . ~ ..
Pencil
IT)

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"
~
Number each of the items. Players write d o ~ n their answers.
\ ~ )
AThis,game can be played by
Vall ages. Let the younger chil-
dren simply name the item, and
expect older players to be a bit
more specific. Your little sister may
only be able to tell the difference
between a pebble and a shell, while
you may be able' to tell the differ-
ence between a piece of quartz and
a chunk of fool's gold (iron pyrite).
After all the guessing is over, use
field guides to make sure the
answers are correct.
Choose one person to organize
the game. This person collects
between 5 and 20 different objects
from around the campground.
Some ideas are plants, flowers,
berries, leaves, pebbles, twigs, or
shells.
Number each object, and then
give each player a turn identifying
the objects. Give everyone a
,notepad so that they can write
down the number and what they
think the object is. After everyone
has made their guesses, compare
the answers.
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How to Find Animal Homes
H
omes for some animals and birds can be easy-to find, and,
for other animals, almost impossible. Some of the easiest to
find are bird and ..j.quirrel nests, or burrows in the ground. To
find nests of birds or squirrels, look up in the tree branches or in
old, hollow trees.
Chipmunks, snakes, ground squirrels, foxes, badgers, coyotes,
prairie dogs, and lizards all live underground in burrows. To find
if a hole in the ground is occupied, stick a, few small twigs
upright in front of the hole. Leave the area and return later to
check on the twigs. If they are flattened or bent, it means that
some creature has been using the hole. Sit quietly at a distance
and watch. You may spot the hole's dweller as it enters or leaves
the burrow. I
To find a deer or elk bed, look for a flattened area of grass .. usu-
ally under a tree. The area may contain piles Of scat that looks
like large rabbit droppings. If you spot one of the flattened grass
areas, look around for hair left in the area, or shrubs and grasses
that the animal has been chewing. 'I I
Nat .. re Note If you are
watching an animal and its
ea,;; start twitching and it is
looking at you, it is becoming
scared. Stay where you are
and you may be able to watch
it. Go no farther! It may run
off in fear or try to defend
itself. Wild animals can be
unpredictable.
,

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beaver stump
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Beavers leave very clear signs of their presence in the forest.
Trees they have chewed down leave a unique stump. This stump
will end in a sharp point with piles of wood chips around the
ground. Beavers don't build dams with large trees. These trees
are stored in the water for their winter food. Beavers eat the bark
I •
off these trees during the winter. .
Beavers build their homes in free-flowing rivers or streams.
They build dams by laying small trees across a stream until it
creates a pond. They build lodges in the pond out of round piles
of If you spot one of these large piles of sticks in a pond,
look around for the beaver's woodlot and try to spot some of the
pointed stumps. .
If the beaver has built a ponq you can easily spot the dam. They
build it from branches and mud. Don't walk on their dam, as you
can damage it, and fall through into the water.
If you lucky and find a beaver pond in a marshy area, look
for tiny channels 9f water in and among the grasses. These are
the beavers' "highway." The beavers will swim in these lanes as
they travel around the area.
-
beaver lodge

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mud wasp
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Insect Hunt
W
hile you are out hiking,
watch for insect homes. If
you are looking carefully, you
may spot the small, round'
indentation in the ground that
marks a trap-door spider's home.
Look for small amounts of
bubbles on grass stems. These
are homes for small insects
sometimes called "spitbugs" or
"spittlebugs." Can you guess
why? These insects suck the
juice from plants to make a
frothy ball to hide 'in that looks a
little like bubbly spit.
Wasps and hornets make
nests that are easy to spot. These
can hang on bushes ,or along the
roof eaves of a building. If you
spot one of these hives, be sure
to observe from a distance
because wasps and hornets can
sting you severely.
Can you spot a spider's web?
Follow a honeybee home to the
hive? Locate an anthill on the
forest floor? There are many
living creatures, right under
your feet! '
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paper wasp
2 & J
Watch for Wildlife
W
hen you are in the wild,
you may come upon a
small trail made by animals
called a game won't
see any piled rock markers or
blazes on trees to mark the
way. It will be time well-spent
to follow this trail, keeping
watch for animal signs. The
most obvious sign to look for
I will be tracks and scat (animal
waste droppings). Watch for
tree-scratching, branches and
grass chewed by animals,
homes of small rodents and
birds, hair left on branches,
and deer or elk beds.
Tree scratches can be made
by mice, members of the cat
family, or bears. Look at how
high the scratches are, and the
size of the scratches. The
smallest and lowest would
belong to the rodent family,
then would come the cat fam-
ily, and last and highest would
be made by a bear.
..
tree hole
bird or squirrel nest
PCP - __, ¢ 4 4
If you spot a "scratching
tree," look around the tree for
pieces of f ~ .. or hair, as these
trees are also used as a back-
rubbing post. If you spot a tree
missing large amounts of bark
in an oblong shape, this could
be a mark made by a porcu-
pine. Porcupines eat tree bark.
If the nibbled patch is above
your head, it wasn't a huge
porcupine-just one that stood
on deep snow to nibble bark.
Nature Note If you find a
baby animal or bird, leave it
alone. Don't touch it or move
it. The mother is probably
right in the area or has left
the baby there for safekeep-
ing. Many animals will not
want their baby to smell like
a human. Your smell can also
attract predators to the baby.
tree scratches
porcupine gnaw
Nature Hunt
1. a small pinch of sand
2. a tiny twig
3. a smaIl smooth pebble
4. a small new leaf on the ground
5. aseed
6. something brightly colored
7. a feather (or something that tickles)
8. something white
9. a piece of litter to throwaway
10. something prickly
11. a small piece of rough bark
12. a pinch of soil
13. something with a smell
14. a small rough rock
15. a leaf on the ground without holes
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lnfounation
M.agic \Vindo\\'s is an activity developed .at the Heard MUseU111 designed to
introduce young chlldren to the diversity of lire. Anyone standing on a
\\Oell-n1anicured lawn in the late spring or early summer would find it hard to picture
any other plant in the la\\'n except grass. However, in all but the most intensively
cared for lawns, nature has its 'way and diversity sneaks in. It is this diverse plant life
that \Vindows addresses.
\Vhen anyone, from the rough edged novice to a seasoned Ecologist, stands in
an area where a plant survey is to be done the size of the task can appear
overwhelming. The trick is the break the area into small units and this is the ?\1agic
in the ·Magic Windo\\'s.
Procedure
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Each child receives one Magic Wmdow and a quart size bag of paper
sand\\'ich bag. At the site ask the children what kinds of plants are covering the
ground. The usual ans\\:er is grass and only grass. Use the Magic \\'indow to try to
fllld other kinds of plants in the lawn that are not
To use the \\,'indow, toss it onl0 the lawn \\rith your eyes closed. Collect a leaf
or flower for every plant inside the Window that is not grass. Put the things you
collect into the ziplock bag.
Back in the classroom place your collections on the clear acetate and cover it
\\·ith clear contact paper, Punch a hole in the top of your hanging and thread a
string through it. Hang it in a bright window to show off the colors and shapes in
the sunlight.
Materials
1 \\rire coat hanger per student
1 12" length of orange surveyors tape per
child
1 6" x 8" clear acetate per child
1 6" x 8" clear contact paper per child
1 12" piece of string per child
1 hole punch per class
0 •
. -
A Fistful of Sound
Askthe hikers to stop moving and listen carefully. Ask them to spend
30 seconds listening to the sounds around them. Tell them to make a
fist with their hand. Ask them to open a finger for each sound they
hear. After 30 seconds .ask the hikers to share the sounds they heard
with the group.

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