First of all, I got the idea and video for this post from Cozi Globe’s post on Food Webs. You should totally go check out the blog. One of the goals is to find free resources for homeshoolers. It looks like a newer blog, so if you haven’t stumbled upon it yet, you may want to pop over there and check it out.
And with that, on to the content…
This video happened to be on the Cozi Globe blog today. I shared it with Sander and A.J. Sander was suitably bored by the repetition of the information, but I’m not surprised. He doesn’t seem to care too much about the food chain. However A.J. seemed pretty interested. It’s a good video and really hits home the idea that each animal on the food chain only gets 10% of the energy consumed by the level before it. It’s not a bad little clip, and I’m glad it came across my, well, phone at the time we watched it. I thought it was so good that I tracked it down on my computer to add it here.
The video got me thinking about a game we used to play when I was in Girl Scouts. It was called Predator and Prey. I looked for the rules online, but I wasn’t able to find it. The best I found was this similar version, called Predator and Prey. The way we did it was a little different, but the idea was pretty much the same.
We ran the game for a large group in at a hundred acre Girl Scout camp. It could easily be run in a smaller group if you adjust the numbers. I can see it work in groups as small as maybe 30. Being out in the woods with a group of kids necessitated working in groups, but you may find your area permits kids to work on the individual level instead.
What do you need? Each kid needs a bandanna. You need five stations for water and five for food, which can be as simple as a folder with a lined sheet and a pencil. You could also put counters or beads instead of a paper that the kids collect at each station. I would also recommend some kind of life tokens or counters, as in the version in the link.
Playing is simple. Each kid is labeled as either a Mouse (bandanna on the leg), Snake (bandanna on the arm), or Hawk (bandanna on the head). I like the idea from the page about giving Mice 10 life tokens in one color and Snakes 5 in another. (Hawks shouldn’t need any unless you play by the rules from the link.) For a group of 30 I recommend 3 Hawks, 7 Snakes, and 20 Mice. You could probably even bring that down. It might get tricky, but I could also see you doing 1 Hawk, 4 Snakes, and 10 mice, giving you a group as small as 15, which could work if you had a small enough operating area.
Each group needs to find the required number of resources. That means writing their name on each sheet of resources. Mice need all the food and all the water. Snakes need at least 3 food and all the water (though you can say more food stations reduces the need to hunt). Hawks only need all the water. Writing their name on the sheet not only proves they found it, but also represents the time they take eating their food.
For those who hunt, hunting is simple. Tag your prey animal and get a life token. The time taken to exchange the token represents time it takes to eat the prey. Snakes need to get 4 life tokens each. Hawks need to get 10 life tokens each. That represents eating enough food to survive. Once a prey animal loses all the tokens of it’s color, they’re out.
Now that everyone knows the rules, you let the kids go. The first group to go out is the Mice. This gives them a bit of a head start to hide and get to their stations. Ten minutes later the Snakes go out. Ten more minutes later you send the Hawks.
We had quite a big expanse of space, so we would often play for five or six hours, allowing all the groups enough time to find the stations they need. You might find you have better luck for your space in an hour or two.
At the end of the time period you call everyone together (a whistle might help here). Bring the group together along with the station papers. (Or have the kids pull out their collections from each food and water spot.) For everyone who has lives left, check to see if they got all their required stations. If they’re a predator, find out if they got enough life tokens from prey. That will tell you who lived. Anyone who survived wins.
So, thanks for stopping by and reading. I hope this inspires someone to get out with their group and give Predator and Prey a try. It’s a fun little game and I think you’d like it. The version in the link adds a bit more diversity, but I think you’d need a bigger group to do it (from their count a group at least 50). If you try it, let me know! I’d love to hear what other people think of the game!