Kids love to play and to act our parts! This game is an appropriate and effective way of satisfying the standard because it creates a model, a real life experience for students, at least as real as we can be to imitate these common animals found in Wisconsin.
I passed back the PredatorPreyAdaptations sheet from yesterday's lesson. I asked them to quietly look over their sheets and think about how they planned to behave like this animal hunting or being hunted.
I presented questions for them to think about:How will the deer and fox act? What specialized structures will kick into gear when being chased? What senses will you use to strategize how you will "catch your prey?" What sounds will you make?
All these questions helped them synthesize the information they had gathered and then helped create a mindset, or theater, "getting into character." It was an important step before we start the game.
Materials: 5 Hoola Hoops, 4 long jump ropes or some sort of endline boundary markers, enough vests or way of marking the predators. I used flag football belts. Food tokens ( enough for 3 per child. I used big craft sticks,) and a timer. Plan on playing 4 rounds at 5 minutes each. Here is an example of the Fox and QuailGame Field that should help you with setting up your field.
Let's Go Outside! I led my students out to a level playing field area in the nearby wooded park. The woods set the stage for our role playing and offered an area that was just the right size. Adapt the size of the playing area to fit the needs of your students. My students did better with a smaller area. I had students lay jump ropes opposite ends of the playing field to serve as end zones. At one end, I dropped all of the food tokens and spread them out. The prey could gather three total food tokens and then stay at the opposite side which was the "shelter." The idea is for the prey to run back and forth from the shelter to the food tokens without being caught by the prey.
Students who were carrying a Hoola Hoop were instructed to lay them at random in between the two end zones. These would be "safe" zones where animals hide from their predator. They can be in this area 3 seconds.
We were almost ready to begin, so I gathered them together to explain the rules and practice their animal sounds and actions.
We began to plan together how we needed to sound because I could tell they needed to get that our of the way first, just by the energy level present. Students practiced their animal actions and voices. Doing this before explaining the rules of the game helped settle them down as they were very excited. As soon as that was done I asked all the predator animals to take places in the field. I asked the prey to stand at the end zone that was the shelter end. I stood between them and began to explain the rules. Splitting them like this settled them down further.
1. One end contained the food tokens and each prey could have 3. After 3 they needed to return to the other end zone or the shelter and just wait.
2.The hoola hoops are safety zones and they could stand in there for 3 seconds. I explained that the safety zones would represent any camouflage, or hiding spot for the prey.Prey can also freeze and only blink if a predator comes within 5 feet of them. There was no time limit on the "freeze." The idea is that eventually the predator gives up on the prey and goes after someone else.
3. The predators must stay between the end zones and tag any prey. No tackling or grabbing clothing. The predators lead their "meal" off to the side lines. They may tag two prey only. Then they will stay on the side lines with them and wait.
I asked one student to repeat what he understood and asked all to listen. I reminded them that they needed to think about the facts they know about their animal. They had not shared what animal they were yet and so I asked all the wolves to make their animal sounds. Then each predator revealed themselves to the prey. Next it was the prey's turn! We were ready to play!
Scenes from Our Game: In beginning the game students ran and talked like humans, I reminded them several times that they were animals. Five minutes went fast and I noticed that there was not enough focus on the roll play. I had to coach them further, so at the beginning of the second round, I asked them to really focus on the prey and that the prey needed to think about their strategies that their animal would use to get to their food tokens. We began the second round and I watched carefully to see if students were behaving like their animals. The pouncing fox worked hard to catch someone. One student was worried about a predator guarding the food at the end zone. I explained that the strategy probably was a smart one and that animals figure out what their prey eats and usually hang around where the prey's food is. At the end of this round, we took a tally of prey caught. There were a lot caught. I knew that I needed to change something again and get those prey to think about their strategies.
I decided to not let them talk in the third and fourth round and see what change would happen.
I announced that in this round, they could only make animal sounds only. The rule was NO talking or screaming from anyone! We began the third round. Now, with just animal sounds, I saw focus and a big difference! They were focused, the game had a different feel and suddenly the prey were managing to get more food tokens and there was less captures for the predators!
After the fourth round, we saw the same results. I stopped them and asked what they thought was going on. The "deer " shared these thoughts about how he watched and the strategies he used. The "mink" talked about running fast. This time the prey were winning the game and they made connections to our own external specialized senses and how we use them and our brain in synchrony.
At this point, it was time to pick up and I wanted to finish the discussion inside to be sure that they absorbed the lesson correctly.
My students settled into the classroom. The goal of this section was for me to be sure that they could distinguish their animal's specialized senses, the model we created outdoors and the understanding of how things changed as we used our own senses to adapt, which would connect this learning and deepen their understanding.
One student wanted to talk about mink a little more. He wanted to know if they ever got caught and eaten in the wild because he strategized to move quickly all of the time, ( which mink do.) These types of questions show me that the game was working in their minds at higher levels than if we had just played a game of animal freeze tag. It was a model and basis for deeper thinking!
I opened up the discussion by asking them How did the whole game change when all we could do was to make animal sounds? Their explanations of what they experienced told me that they could understand that being more quiet or more like their animal and abandoning their human sounds deepened their understanding. It also led them to understand that as humans, when we listen more, we experience more and can make better decisions! They could summarize what happened when we focused on listening because it was all so clear to them in the results of the success of the prey, therefore this lesson proved to be a good model for the connections of senses to the brain and the thinking process! I asked them if they now think humans talk too much? They agreed on that!