Animal Footprint Molds: Making Animal Track Casts With Kids

Animal Pawprints In The Mud
(Image credit: Pi-Lens)

Every parent knows that it’s best to keep the kids busy and a fun, educational project is making casts of animal tracks. An animal tracks activity is inexpensive, gets the kids outside, and is easy to do. Plus, making animal track casts or footprint molds is a great teaching opportunity, so it’s a win/win. Read on to learn how to make animal track molds.

Materials for Making Animal Track Casts

Only a few materials are needed for making casts of animal tracks:

  • plaster of Paris
  • water
  • plastic bag or container
  • something to stir with
  • bag to bring the animal footprint molds home in

Optionally, you will also need something to surround the animal track to contain the plaster of Paris as it sets. Cut rings from a plastic soda bottle or the like. A small shovel will be handy as well to lift the set animal footprint molds up out of the soil. 

How to Make Animal Track Molds

Once you have all of your materials together, it’s time to take a walk in an area with animal track activity. This can be a wild animal area or area for domestic dog walking. Look for an area with a loose, sandy soil. Clay soil tends to lead to broken animal footprint molds.

Once you locate your animal tracks, it’s time to make casts. You will need to work relatively quickly, as the plaster sets up in about ten minutes or less.

  • First, set your plastic ring over the animal track and press it into the soil.
  • Then, mix the plaster powder with water in a container you brought or in a plastic bag until it is the consistency of pancake mix. Pour this into the animal track and wait for it to set. The length of time depends on the consistency of your plaster of Paris.
  • Once the plaster has set, use the shovel to lift the animal casts out of the soil. Place in a bag to transport home.
  • When you get home, wash the soil off the casts of animal tracks and cut off the plastic ring.

That’s it! This animal track activity is as simple as it gets. If you are going to a wildlife area, be sure to arm yourself with a book on animal tracks to aid in identification and, of course, be safe!

Amy Grant

Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.