Participants will discuss concepts relating to food chains/webs, show an understanding of the requirements for living things, identify living and non-living factors that influence animal populations in the wild, and describe how living things depend on one another for survival.
- Established plant food and water stations
- Several different ink stamps
- Arm bands (Red, Blue and Yellow)
- A whistle
Have the students define the terms “predator” and “prey”, then list some general differences in physical characteristics. Discuss how the sun is the source of all energy on the planet. In the natural world, what is able to turn sunlight directly into food? Plants! And plants are at the base of the food chain. From here, discuss the relationships between the animals, whether they are herbivores (plant eaters), omnivores (plant and meat), or carnivores (meat only), and their roles in the food chain – top predator, mid-level predator, or prey. Note: Not all mid-level predators are omnivores. Next, have students identify the four basic needs - food, air, water, and shelter. (Since we are dealing with creatures living within their own natural ecosystems, we will assume that air and shelter are both available.) In the game, the students will be looking for food and water. Would an herbivore need the same amount of food and water as a top predator? No. So, all animals have different needs…
This activity is best played outdoors in a large space with a variety of habitats (ie. open field, forested, and sheltered). Establish several locations as food and water posts by placing a stamp at each and possibly a sign to indicate food or water. Prepare 7 food stations and 4 water stations (more or less depending on group size). Don’t reveal to your participants the locations of these stations. They must find them.
- The goal of this game is to survive! Participants will have to collect the food and water they need in order to stay alive until the end of the game, however they will have different food and water requirements than one another.
- The group will be split into 3 groups. The groups that you must have are Herbivores, Omnivores, and Carnivores. For every Carnivore, aim for two Omnivores and three Herbivores.
- Herbivores start with 5 blue arm bands. They must find 6 different plant food stations and stamp their life card with the stamps at each station. They must also collect 2 water stamps.
- Omnivores start with 4 yellow arm bands. They must find 8 food items through one of two ways: plant food stations or by hunting herbivores. They must also collect 4 water stamps.
- Carnivores start with 2 red arm bands. They must collect 10 food credits, but because they only eat meat, they have to get all their food from hunting herbivores or omnivores. Just like the omnivores they must sneak up on their prey and tag them. They must also collect 6 water stamps.
- In order for Omnivores and Carnivores to hunt, they must sneak up on their prey and tag them. The tagged prey must give one of their own arm bands to the predator, not one they have collected.
- First send out the Herbivores. A few minutes later, the Omnivores, and another few minutes later, the Carnivores. Some tips for each group:
- Herbivores have less food and water to collect than the others because they tend to be smaller and require less, but they have to pay special attention to not getting eaten.
- Omnivores have more options in terms of where to get their food, from stations or from herbivores, which is a natural advantage over the herbivores, but they still need to stay away from carnivores.
- Carnivores don’t have any predators, but they require the most food and water because they tend to be larger and expend more energy hunting. If their food, the herbivores and omnivores, are good at hiding or running away, they can starve!
- Play until the facilitator ends the games (with three long whistle blasts). Even if participants collect all the food they need, they still need to play to survive to the end.
- Additional roles that you can add are human hunters, natural disasters, and roving food stations. These roles are perfect for parents, teachers, or children with mobility issues.
- Human hunters: Can hunt herbivore, omnivores, and carnivores. They should be equipped with one or several throwable objects to “hunt” with. If a hunter hits an animal with the throwable then they take must give the hunter one life band.
- Natural disasters: Occur randomly throughout the game and take armbands away from any and all players. Consider giving Carnivores an extra life band to account for introduction of a new “natural predator”.
- Roving food stations: A staff could be designated to give out stamps to arriving herbivores or omnivores, but s/he doesn’t stay in one place. Either the roving food station continuously moves around or it stays in one place for a while and then moves to another location, increasing the difficulty in finding food and water.
- Randomly place a few hula hoops around the playing space as established “safe zones” for prey to hide from predators. Consider having one colour for herbivore-only safe zones and another colour for omnivore-only safe zones. No safe zones for carnivores. Prey can only stay in the safe zone for one minute, after which they need to move on.
- Include actual drinking water and small snacks at the water and food stations so partcipants can stay hydrated and nourished.
- Try adjusting the group ratios or number of armbands for each group and observe what happens to the food chain.
- Be sure to establish clear boundaries ahead of time.
- Playing into the dark can be fun, but does have added cautions in terms of visibility and supervision.
- Encourage autonomous decision-making and risk-taking, but also ensure that plenty of adults ore roaming around.
Once the game has finished and everyone comes back have them count up their food and water resources, and then find out who survived:
- How did it feel to be high/low on the food chain?
- What were some strategies that you used to survive?
- How was this realistic / unrealistic?
- What was difficult during this game?
- What did you learn about the food chain?
- Do you think this activity reflects some of the challenges animals face in survival? Why or why not?
Obtained from: http://www.campedwards.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Predator-Prey.pdf