My kids love to pretend to be other animals. Playing a simple role-playing game with kids outside can be an excellent and easy way to teach them about wild animals. In fact, many hunter-gatherer cultures would dress up like, walk like, and dance like wild animals. This actually is an extremely beneficial activity to help people of all ages learn TRACKING.
When tracking an animal, you must know how it walks. To truly get the feel of an animal’s movements down in your mind, it’s good to try to walk, run, or hop like that animal. How does a coyote trot? When a racoon walks, do the hind feet line up with the front feet, or not? What about a deer? Do they walk silently or stomp their hooves a little when they think there is no danger? What would all of this mean in their tracks? What happens of the animal stops suddenly? What about if it sees a predator and runs really fast?
This also is, of course, a great way to help get you moving. To me, running on all fours is very hard. To my kids, it’s something they do every day until age 6 or so and seems as easy as walking upright, but that’s probably because they’ve built up the muscles to do it just like any four-legged creature.
It’s fun to watch kids play, but I’m also a huge proponent of grown-ups letting go of their inhibitions and embracing their more playful, childlike natures. There are all kinds of benefits to the brain, happiness, and your likely success in life if you learn how to play. When in the woods, you’ll also see more wildlife if the animals think you’re a deer, raccoon, rabbit, or even a fox rather than a human. So, go outside and pretend to be an animal for the day! You might be amazed by what you discover!