Odd One Out

Funky feet

Activity overview

15 mins
Ages 7 – 9

Science topics:

Animals, including humans , Living things and their habitats

Put your class' observation skills to the test with these three animals and their different feet. This activity is great for promoting observation and discussion skills.

Run the activity

1. Show the three images above and ask everyone to come up with as many similarities and differences as they can. If they get stuck, prompt them to think about:

  • appearance
  • what they do
  • where they might be found

2. Then, everyone needs to decide which one is the odd one out and why. Encourage a reason for every answer and there is no wrong answer!

Background science

Each of these animals have feet that are suited to their different lifestyles. The golden eagle has strong talons which help it to grasp its prey. The golden eagle’s diet can include ducks, which are particularly vulnerable at the moment of taking off or landing. It also preys upon rodents and other smaller birds.

Ducks’ feet are webbed to help them to move through water. They also help them to find food as they are used to help them dabble (this is where ducks hang upside down in the water in order to find food beneath the surface). Although mallard ducks are primarily dabblers, they will also occasionally dive to find food that is deeper down and their webbed feet are vital for this also. Unlike eagles and frogs, ducks are omnivorous, eating a wide range of plants and invertebrates. They eat amphibians, such as frogs, which are especially vulnerable when they are tadpoles or before they have grown to full size. 

Frogs, like this red eyed tree frog, (found in tropical Central and South America), also have webbed feet to suit their aquatic lifestyle (although they spend long periods of their life away from water, only returning en masse to a pond to breed). Frogs eat a wide range of other animals including insects, worms and even other frogs before they grow too big. 

Take it further

The frog and duck have webbed feet. Do all animals that live near water have webbed feet? This is a river bird spotter sheet but it doesn’t show all the bird’s feet. Children could investigate and look for patterns. What about mammals and amphibians who live near water. How are they adapted? 

Children may also enjoy watching this Explorify What's Going On? Muddy meal. Challenge them to discuss in what ways the egret’s feet help it to catch its prey (The splayed toes help to stop in sinking into the mud. Then, as the foot is brought back up, the toes are held together so that the foot is streamlined and can travel through the water with minimal effort and disturbance enabling the bird to stealthily move through the water).

Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) by Popova Valeriya; Gadwall by L.A. Faille; Frog/Red-Eyed Amazon Tree Frog (Agalychnis Callidryas) by Vaclav Sebek; all via Shutterstock SL