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Anna Kingsbury
GEO 201
December 15, 2015
Final Lesson Plan
TITLE: Tracking Dinosaurs
TIME REQUIRED: 3 days: approximately 35 mins on Day 1; 1 hr 10 mins on Day 2;
and 30 mins on Day 3.

3-LS4-1. Analyze and interpret data from fossils to provide evidence of the
organisms and the environments in which they lived long ago. [Clarification
Statement: Examples of data could include type, size, and distributions of
fossil organisms. Examples of fossils and environments could include marine
fossils found on dry land, tropical plant fossils found in Arctic areas, and
fossils of extinct organisms.]


Student will be able to match a dinosaur to its trackway (or an organism to its
footprint) by mastering the Match that Track activity and participating in the
PlayDoh Footprints activity.
Student will be able to interpret the process needed to connect a dinosaurs
physical features to a trackway it would create by completing the Draw that
Track homework worksheet.
Student will be able to infer dinosaur (or other organism) behavior from a
trackway, such as the way in which it walked and if it was
running/walking/etc. by completing the Make your own Trackway activity.
Student will be able to understand, interpret, and describe the processes and
factors that are involved in making a specific trackway by completing the
Make your own Trackway activity and presenting their trackway to the rest of
the class.
Student will be able to analyze a trackway and identify physical features of a
dinosaur based upon it, such as its general size and shape of its foot by
completing the What Kind of Critter? assessment.

During the Elaborate section, within the Make Your Own Trackway activity, students
are asked to step in paint and walk across paper in a way that makes a creative
trackway. If students have too much paint on their hands/feet or try to go too fast
across the paper, they may slip and fall. Make sure students are aware of this and
use caution.

This lesson would be a part of a unit about fossils that focuses specifically on trace
fossils using trackways. Students will have already learned about what a fossil is,
how it is created, and the different types of fossils that are found.
Pictures: 10 minutes
Materials: projector; picture of footprints on the beach and picture of a trackway.
Examples can easily be found by Googling footprints on the beach and
fossilized trackway.
The focus of this activity is to gather information about what the students
already know about footprints and trackways, as well as any misconceptions
they may have (such as that depth of print relates directly to weight of the

Direct students attention to the front of the room. Pull up a picture of

footprints on the beach on the projector. Ask students to participate in a class
discussion about what they can tell about the people who made the
Ask guided questions such as: How big are the footprints? What does this
tell you about the person who made them? Was the person running or
walking? How do you know that?
Next, bring up a picture of a fossilized trackway on the projector. Ask the
students to participate in the same type of discussion.
Ask the same types of questions. How big are the prints and what does this
tell you about the creature who made them? Was the creature running or
walking and how do you know? How do you think the creature was


Participate in thoughtful discussion. Think about the information they can

infer about the people/creatures based on the tracks that they leave.

PlayDoh Footprints: 15 minutes

Materials: enough PlayDoh so that 3-4 volunteers can each make a shoe print in
a separate piece.
This activity serves to gives students practice in matching footprints to the
organism that made them using something familiar shoes!

Get a few volunteers from the class, and have them come up to the front of
the room. Have each volunteer step in some playdoh in order to make a
footprint while the rest of the class has their head down so they dont see

whos print is whose. Make sure that the volunteers dont see the others
footprints either.
Then, ask the rest of the students to gather around the playdoh, and have the
volunteers stand in front of the prints (not in front of their own!) holding one
shoe up so that the rest of the class can see the soles of their shoes.
Have the class try to synthesize which student made each footprint based
upon what the sole of their shoe looks like. Make sure the volunteers do not
make any comments about their own prints, (and dont give away which
theirs is!) but can discuss the other prints along with the class.
Ask questions such as: Why do you think that footprint belongs to this
person? How do you know this? What features can you see in the
footprint that you can also see on their shoe?


Compare each of the footprints made in playdoh to the volunteers shoes,

and try to infer who made which print.
Students should also be considering how they know the owner of each print,
and should be able to describe characteristics found in the print and on the
shoe that leads them to their conclusion.

Match that Track: 10 minutes
Materials: Match that Track worksheet, the pictures should be cut out before
hand, and there should be enough for each pair of students to have one set.
This is used to open students up to the idea that trackways can look vastly
different for different dinosaurs, and helps them to make connections between
the physical characteristics/behaviors of the dinosaurs to their tracks.

Hand out Match that Track sets. These have different pictures of dinosaurs as
well as pictures of trackways made by them. Make sure that the sets are all
cut out before handing them out to the class, and do not include the
Eubrontes giganteus trackway, as this is a second trackway for the same
Carnosaurs dinosaur and may cause confusion.
Ask students to work as partners to match up the picture of the organism
with a picture of its trackway. Walk around the classroom and observe and
encourage student thinking.
As youre walking around the class, encourage students to think about the
size of the creature, what their feet are shaped like, how they would walk and
if they were running or jumping. Make sure that each group has matched all
the pictures correctly before moving on to the next activity.


Match pictures of trackways to organisms that most likely made them. Work
in groups and ask questions as needed.

Draw that Track: to be completed as homework

Materials: Draw that Track worksheet, enough for each student to have one.

Give each students a Draw that Track worksheet. This has pictures of
different dinosaurs on them, with spaces underneath each dinosaur in which
to draw. The worksheet will ask students to decide based on the physical
characteristics of the dinosaur what their trackway might look like, and to
draw it.


Complete the Draw that Track worksheet as homework, and bring it back the
next day.

Draw that Track Review: 15 minutes
Materials: Draw that Track worksheet, completed; document camera.
The primary focus is that students understand that foot size relates to print size,
that the prints very depending on how many legs the dinosaur uses to walk and
how they walk, and that the shape of the print relates to the shape of the foot.
However, the pictures do not show clearly the dinosaurs foot, different shapes
are acceptable as long as they are reasonable. This worksheet gives them
practice in creating trackways.

The next day, after the students have had the change to complete the Draw
that Track worksheet as homework, bring students attention to the front of
the class and show the answer key on the document camera.
Ask students NOT to erase their own answers, but to draw the correct
trackways next to their own or on the back if they are different. Have them
participate in a discussion about the differences between their answers and
yours. Remind students that this was a formative assessment so that you
could get a grasp on their knowledge there are NO wrong answers, just
opportunities for learning!
Ask questions such as: How do your drawings differ from the actual
trackways? Why do you think this is the case?
Collect worksheets after discussion and corrections.


Participate in class discussion, draw the correct answers next to their own if
there are differences.

Trackways Presentation: 10 minutes
Materials: Trackways PowerPoint presentation; projector.
This presentation is used to make sure that students have all of the information
they need about trackways, and to clear up any misconceptions that they may
have about them.

Show students Trackways PowerPoint presentation to ensure that they

understand how trackways can give us information about the organisms that
created it. Presentation includes a few examples of actual trackways that
have been uncovered next to pictures of animals that created them.
Presentation will also explain how trackways can give us some information
about the creatures behaviors and physical characteristics as well as what
the Goldilocks Preservation Model is and how it relates.
Have a class discussion with these pictures, asking students to show what
they notice about the connections as well as your own observations that you
want students to pay attention to.


Pay attention to the lecture and ask questions as needed. Students should
also participate in discussions when asked to.

Make your own Trackway: 30-45 minutes
Materials: 5 large, long pieces of paper, each about 6-8 ft long; various colors of
washable tempera paint; 5 Tupperware containers in which to pour some of the
paint; paper towels/washcloths for cleanup.
This activity makes sure that students can directly relate the trackway to the
behaviors/features that were used to make it, as well as making sure they are
able to describe this relation coherently. It will also provide additional
differentiated help to students of varying learning styles who may have had
trouble seeing this relation just by going directly from the dinosaur to the
trackway it made in earlier activities, and give them a chance to see the actual
process in real time.

Have long pieces of paper set up in the hallway with containers filled with
different colored tempera paint. Break students into groups (ideally 5 groups
of 4), and each will be responsible for making their own trackway.
Encourage students to work together in their groups to create a complex and
creative trackway. As many group members can be part of the trackway as
they wish. Give a few examples on how students could walk on the paper to
create unique trackways before allowing students to begin.

After each group of students has had a chance to make their own trackway,
groups will take turns presenting their trackways to the rest of the class and
describing what they did to create it. Students must include a description of
how their dinosaur walked, how many toes it has, and how fast it was
going. Ask guided questions if groups are leaving out key information while


When creating their trackways, students will make sure to take off their shoes
and socks, and to roll up their pants and sleeves so as not to get paint all
over their clothes. Students will be encouraged to use creativity when
forming their trackways, and will informally present them to the class

What Kind of Critter? Assessment: 20-30 minutes
Materials: What Kind of Critter? summative assessment.
This summative assessment is used to demonstrate students understanding of
the correlations between an organisms trackway and its characteristics as well
as its behavior. Time will be given in class to complete this and there will be no
talking or group work.

Ask students to complete the What Kind of Critter? assessment worksheet

that gives them an example of a trackway. From this trackway, students will
be asked to draw an organism that they think created it, and then write a
story about their creature, the environment that it lives in, and what was
happening when the trackway was created. Students will be asked to explain
their reasoning on their answer.


Complete the assessment alone in class.

Formative assessment throughout the lesson:

Formative assessment of students throughout the lesson will occur to ensure

their understanding of all points and activities before moving on into the next
part of the lesson.
These assessments include:
o Engage: Pictures and PlayDoh Footprints discussions will inform
teacher of students previous knowledge on the information we can
infer from footprints as well as students abilities to make connections
between prints and the maker of the prints.
o Explore: Match that Track will allow teacher to have one on one time
with students to assess their insight to matching trackways with

organisms that made them, and will give opportunities for the teacher
to make corrections before moving on.
Explain: Draw that Track Review activity and worksheet will allow
teacher to see different students original responses, allows for
students to discuss their thinking, and lets the teacher make
Elaborate: In Make your own Trackway, students are asked to
informally present how they made their trackway to the class, which
gives easy and quick insight to making sure that they understand this
process completely before they are summativley assessed on it in the
Evaluate section.

A trackway is a type of trace fossil consisting of a set of footprints, usually
found in sedimentary structures. Trace fossils in general can show us the behavior
of an animal as well as some details about its external features, and this lesson
focuses specifically on dinosaurs. Trackways are not usually named for the dinosaur
that was believed to have made them, as we can never be completely sure of which
dinosaur that is. And so, trackways are given their own name based upon their
Trackways are created when the organism walks over ground and exerts
enough pressure to make a mark in the surface. They are formed best in wet and
cohesive sediment like sand or mud and so it makes sense that most trackways are
found beside seas, lakes, or rivers. They can be preserved in two ways either as a
mold or a cast. Trackways are in general a very rare find because of the perfect
conditions needed for them to form. The sediment composition may not have been
right, they might not have gotten baked in the sun, they could have been eroded
away or even trampled. This is where the Goldilocks Preservation Model comes into
play, which states that there is a specific zone around a body of water where there
are the perfect conditions for trackway fossils to form. It the dinosaur makes tracks
too near the water, the ground is more likely to be trampled by many other
dinosaurs. If the tracks happen too far from the water, the sediment is too dry and
the prints dont get covered by more sediment often enough to fossilize.
Since trackways are preserved exactly where they happened, they can tell us
exactly where the organism was when it was doing that behavior, can gives us clues
as to what that behavior was, as well as many more things about the creatures
physical characteristics. For example, they can tell us how a dinosaur walked since
they can be bipedal (walking on hind limbs only), quadrupedal (on all fours) or
facultatively bipedal (two or four legs depending). Trackways can also tell us that
most dinosaurs placed their feet by walking primarily on their toes, and therefore
the footprint impression made is not left by the whole foot, and generally only left
metatarsal (foot bone) impressions when they were resting. We can also learn how
certain dinosaurs stood by looking at trackways. Most dinosaurs had an erect stance
and when they moved, their legs swung straight backwards and forwards under
their bodies. We can differentiate between these dinosaurs and those who were
quadrupedal and walked in a sprawling stance where they must rotate their hips
and shoulders in order to walk. Lastly, trackways can tell us about the number of
digits that each dinosaur had, most having between 3 and 5 digits on each foot.
When considering this, we are only concerned with the functional digits the ones
that routinely make contact with the ground while the dinosaur was walking or
Presence of trackways can also tell us about the diversity of species in an
area based upon the number of different types of prints left on a surfaces. They can,
though this, give approximate predator/prey ratio based upon the species matched
with the prints. Clues are also given to deciding whether a dinosaur was a predator
or not based upon the appearance of claws in the print, as a dinosaur with claws is

more likely to be carnivorous and predatory. We can also learn much about the
possible gregarious behavior of dinosaurs through the amount of prints found in a
specific area, belonging to the same species, and traveling together or in the same
We can also use trackways to estimate speed of the dinosaur that made the
footprints, but I considered this equation to be a little complex for 3 rd graders and so
did not include it in the lesson. However, we can easily tell if a dinosaur was walking
or if it was running when it was making the prints, because generally speaking
running trackways have a suspended phase where all of the limbs are off the
ground at the same time. We can also approximate by saying that if the stride
length is more than 8 times the footprint length, the dinosaur was most likely
Although we can tell a lot about a dinosaur from its trackway, there is also
quite a bit that we cannot decipher from them and there are some common
misconceptions about them. For example, we cannot tell the weight of the animal
due to its trackway because of the many other factors that go into the depth of the
print itself. This deformation is related to the weight of the animal, but does not
directly tell us what the weight would be, as other factors take into account. For
example, the relative size of the dinosaurs foot, its weight distribution, and the
consistency of the sediment on which it walked can all contribute to the depth of
the print. Therefore, we cannot directly infer the weight of the dinosaur through its
track, and this may be a misconception that occurs in the lesson. It is also difficult
to determine whether small prints were made by juveniles or by small species
adults. We usually cannot differentiate for certain between these, but in two
situations it is likely that the tracks are made by a juvenile. First, if the tracks are so
small that no adult dinosaur that we know of could have made them. Second, when
both small and large tracks are found on the same surface by the same species, the
smaller is likely to be made by a juvenile with its parent. There is also a myth that
human and dinosaur prints have been found together, but that is no evidence to
support this.

"Dinosaur Trackways." Natural History Notebooks. Canadian Museum of Nature, 28
Apr. 2015. Web. 14 Dec. 2015.
"Fossil Activities for Kids." BrainPOP Educators. SlipFire LLC, 21 May 2008. Web. 14
Dec. 2015. <>.
Kuban, Glen J. "An Overview of Dinosaur Tracking." An Overview of Dinosaur
Tracking. N.p., 13 Apr. 2007. Web. 14 Dec. 2015.

Lockley, G. Martin, Karen J. Houck, and Nancy K. Prince. North Americas largest
dinosaur trackway site: Implications for Morrison Formation paleoecology.
Geological Society of America (1986) Web. 14 Dec. 2015
NGSS Lead States. "3-LS4-1 Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity." Next
Generation Science Standards: For States, By States. Archive, Inc, 2013. Web.
14 Dec. 2015. <>.
Ostrom, H. John. Were Some Dinosaurs Gregarious? Palaeogeography,
Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 11.4 (1972): 287-301. Web. 14 Dec. 2015
Scotchmoor, Judith G, Dale A. Springer, Brent H. Breithaupt, and Anthony R. Fiorillo.
Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, The Paleontological Society, and
American Geological Institute. Alexandria, VA: American Geological Institute,
2002. Print.


Match that Track

each dinosaur and
set of prints should
be cut out prior to
handing them out
to students. Use an
uncut one as an
answer key. Do not
use Eubrontes
giganteus trackway.



Draw that Track!

Underneath each dinosaur, draw a trackway that you think they would make.
Make sure to consider how big the dinosaur is, how many of its legs that it
uses to walk, and what it is doing. Draw at least four prints!


Name: Answer Key

Draw that Track!

Underneath each dinosaur, draw a trackway that you think they would make.
Make sure to consider how big the dinosaur is, how many of its legs that it
uses to walk, and what it is doing. Draw at least four prints!








What Kind of Critter?

Look at the trackway on the right, and then draw a dinosaur that you think created
it in the box on the left. Write a short story about your dinosaur below your picture
that tells me what the dinosaur is doing and how its physical features relate to its
trackway. Make sure you think about and include what its feet will be shaped like,
how big it will be, and how it walks/runs in both your picture and your story.



Name: Answer Key

What Kind of Critter?

Look at the trackway on the right, and then draw a dinosaur that you think created
it in the box on the left. Write a short story about your dinosaur below your picture
that tells me what the dinosaur is doing and how its physical features relate to its
trackway. Make sure you think about and include what its feet will be shaped like,
how big it will be, and how it walks/runs in both your picture and your story.

The name of the dinosaur is called a Caririchnium, although students do not need to
know that. Above are some examples of what student drawings may look like.
Students will be graded primarily on the feet, stance, and size of the dinosaur not
on its other physical characteristics that cannot be determined based upon its
trackway. The students picture and story must show that the student knows the
dinosaur walks on four legs, that its front feet are smaller and more rounded than its
back feet, that its back feet are larger than its front and have three digits, and that
the dinosaur is walking.