Animal tracking: What kids can learn from the study of footprints and other clues

toddler standing in snow, near rabbit or hare tracks

How is animal tracking related to cognitive development? Before the rise of urban life, kids spent a lot of time learning read the visual clues left behind by other animals. Nowadays, many kids never get to learn the art of tracking. But maybe they should. Tracking gets kids outdoors and interested in wildlife. It may also provide kids with opportunities to practice scientific reasoning, spatial skills, and symbolic thought.

Preschool and kindergarten science activities about tracking animals

A little girl studying an animal track - a canine paw print - left in dirt.

© 2009 – 2021 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved These preschool and kindergarten science activities build on what most young children are already interested in — animals! And in addition to teaching lessons about biology, they also offer kids opportunities to practice analytical, spatial, and symbolic reasoning skills. Where to begin: Free exploration with Read More »

Evidence-based social skills activities for children and teens (with teaching tips)

diverse circle of children's happy faces

These social skills activities can help kids forge positive relationships — and better understand what other people are feeling and thinking. How can we help children develop social competence — the ability to read emotions, cooperate, make friends, and negotiate conflicts? Kids learn when we act as good role models, and they benefit we create environments that Read More »

Lack of math education may shortchange a teenager’s developing brain

frustrated, hopeless teenage girl standing with forehead against a blackboard of algebraic equations

© 2021 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Some teens study lots of math. Others avoid it. Does it make a difference? Yes, and not only to career prospects. New research suggests it might also affect brain chemistry, and the way that students learn. How many years of math should you take in high school? Read More »

Preschool science experiment: Using ice to teach kids about scientific concepts (with crucial safety tips)

preschool boy carefully removing ice tray from freezer

© 2008 – 2021 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved A preschool science experiment is an opportunity to introduce children to the concepts of observation, prediction, and testing (Gelman and Brenneman 2004). Exciting? Yes. But it’s also tricky. On the one hand, research suggests that young children don’t think as creatively or as critically when Read More »

The effects of television on speech development: Is it helpful or harmful?

toddler watching television

Studies report a link between TV and language development in young children. The more time kids spend watching television, the more slowly they learn to talk. What’s going on? Some people conclude that the effects of television on children are direct and negative. According to this view, television is noxious, like cigarette smoke. Cigarettes damage Read More »