Outdoor Hour Challenge #51 Mammals-Wolf, Fox, and Dog

Outdoor Hour Challenge #51
Mammals: Wolf, Fox, and Dog

You are in for a treat with this challenge with an episode from PBS Nature to watch if you choose to do so. I am strongly recommending that you preview this episode. I tried to note what might be objectionable in each part. Even with all these warnings, I truly think this is an amazing episode. There is so much about winter in Yellowstone and so many mammals in their natural setting. The photography of Yellowstone in this episode is fantastic and it made me want to plan a trip to this beautiful spot in the near future.

PBS Nature In the Valley of the Wolves (Set In Yellowstone National Park)

  • Part one shows the wolves hunting and then killing an elk-tastefully done but still it might be upsetting to sensitive children. Includes a red fox and coyotes as well. Shows a coyote eating a vole.
  • Part two is all about breeding season so you will want to preview for appropriateness for your family. There is also a dead elk scene where the coyotes and an eagle are eating.
  • Part three has two wolf packs fighting. Dead elk being eaten in this part as well. Wolves chase and eat the coyote….it made me cry. River otters and eagles. Red fox and a coyote are shown hunting and then eating some sort of rodents. Bison being eaten by the wolves and birds.
  • Part four has a grizzly bear and cubs. Another elk being hunted and killed by wolves and eaten by the grizzly.Lots of baby animal stories in this part.
  • Part five opens up with coyotes eating an elk, blood. Very sad end to the wolf pups…made me tear up. Magnificent elk shots.

1. Read pages 250-260 of the Handbook of Nature Study about the wolf, the fox, and the dog. Studying the dog will help your child get a better understanding of the wolf and the fox. Not many of us will ever study a fox or a wolf up close but we can study the dog with great ease. After reading these pages in the Handbook, have a few ideas to share with your children. Use the dog as your point of comparison when talking about fur, teeth, and paws.

2. This week’s challenge includes two opportunities for observation:
*Spend 10-15 minutes outdoors on a nature walk. If you have snow or mud, look for animal tracks. Use this time to discuss why mammals, especially the wolf, fox, and dog have fur or hair. Look for any signs of animals as you walk around your own yard or down your own street. Ask your children where they think they might see a mammal. Don’t forget that you can also observe other mammals such as cats and squirrels if you have the opportunity. A dog’s tracks are easily recognizable and once you know what to look for, you will start to see them everywhere.

*If you have a pet dog, use the activities on pages 258-260 to learn more about your own dog. Many of the activities assume you have access to a cat to compare to the dog but you can skip to number 6 if you do not have a cat to study alongside the dog.

3. Supplemental reading: The Burgess Animal Book for Children: Read Story 27 and 28. Use the illustrations on pages 164, 170, and 177 to prompt some simple narrations from your child about the wolf, the fox, and the dog.

4. For your nature journal you can sketch the parts of the dog that you studied during your observation time. The teeth, the ears, and the paws make great subjects for the nature journal. If you did not study a dog, you can complete a notebook page for any or all of the challenges subjects: the wolf, the fox, or the dog. See the additional resources below for information and photos. Another suggestion is to make several entries for different breeds of dogs that you know or are interested in learning about for this challenge.

Additional resources for this challenge:


  1. Hi Barb,
    looks like Mr Linky is on the blink(y) again…

  2. You didn’t mention scat! We saw fox scat last month, and it would be easy to sketch, easy to id, too.

  3. This looks really good! My daughter is 13 so we’re going to read some of Farley Mowatt’s “Never Cry Wolfe” and read, for fun, a few of James Herriot’s dog stories. Hopefully we can get the Nature segments to play. Thanks again for all your hard work on these challenges! We don’t get them all done, but I love having them! We get WAY more done than we would otherwise. BTW, my daughter is doing some of your art tutorials next week, too!

  4. we did this one ahead of time – a few weeks back. It was freeeeezing then, now it’s 60 F and in a few days it will again snow and then be unseasonably cold (they say)… Anyhoo, as we have just started sowing seeds (under lights in our basement), Amie and I will be “reverting” to the earlier chapters of the Handbook of Nature.

  5. I didn’t work on mammals today, but I finally go my second big toe in the water; last year my kids and I looked at milk weed in the Spring, then at the seed in the fall, I’ve been lurking here for a year or so.

    Today I bought the 1st and 2nd graders at co-op outside to look at the pin oaks by the church. We found a gall, gathered leaves, looked at various identification books, drew the structure of the tree, bark texture, traced leaves (the kids picked on of the list) and I read a Thornton Burgess story to the ones who were done drawing and didn’t want to look through the library books.

    The 45 min went by quickly and fairly painlessly, I guess I can do this.

    I hope to bog about it soon at http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/curiousities

    -Christine in Massachusetts

  6. HI! Just found ur blog and u seem to know ur stuff! I love the challenges and wish I joined and found them earlier…LOL! I might steal some from u though, LOL. I homeschool 2 preschoolers and was atually wondering if u had any reccomendations of any nature books that would be great to use with them and read to them. Thanks again. My email is jolenegreen2 at yahoo dot com. Thanks! Will be adding ur blog to my blogroll!

  7. My dogs were totally uncooperative about being photographed for this week’s challenge.

  8. I’ll be publishing my post about this study tomorrow morning. :-)

  9. We had a wonderful time with this study. Thank you for all the great links and the guidance!

  10. We are studying mammals and your ideas look wonderful! This is exactly the resource I’ve been looking for. This challenge will definitely excite my boys- I can’t wait to get started.

    Thanks for all you do for the homeschool community!

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