Luna Explorer Totter Tumble Playmat Stylish practical wipedown

Footprints inspiring Family Play

The next in the #FamilyPlay series gets a bit messy! But with just a simple idea and few resources, all the family can join in...


Footprints delight children, don't they? Footprints in the sand, in the mud, or wet feet pitter pattering across the floor. It’s become a fascination for my 3 year old who squeals in delight when she spots her own, and then imaginatively prances around making more and more eagerly copied by her little brother.


The first hurrah moment came on the ‘big beach’ down in Cornwall this year as her band of 11 cousins scrambled over the sand to our usual cove. Trailing behind the older ones she spotted their prints and made simple remarks about how they changed as the sand became wetter as we neared the shoreline. Next it was the scuttle mark left by the crabs so tirelessly plucked from the rockpools, and last the leaps between the paw prints marked by two incredibly relieved Labradors, keen to get some distance. Que endless discussions about feet.

So, how can we use footprints and turn this into a family play activity? Here are a few ideas to connect with all your children, together in one activity:


For the youngest of children it is just by spotting and making footprints. A tray of sand, a muddy flowerbed, a filled paddling pool. Or on a rainy day, where getting outside is off limits, grab the animal toys (not the fluffy type!) and water based paints and get dipping!

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With children two and under, just free creative play, but you could introduce sorting activities based on the animals and colours. If you think your child is ready for more, then the books Whose tracks are these? By James Nail or Who Was Here? By Mia Posada. Both are picture books with gorgeous illustrations to think about different animal footprints.

If you have a child in KS2 then there are lots of fun ways to link to footprints. You might extend this idea and link to animal adaptation and habitats, investigating why or trying to identify animals by their footprints using reasoning. Or you might include some fun maths investigations. Did you know that the average humans height is roughly the same as 7.5 times their foot length? Is there a ratio for different animals? Or perhaps you can use the footprints to inspire a story telling. What happened? Where were they going? Why?

Just make sure you have a wipedown surface for the paint, mud and sand- like one of our playmats. Happy playing.