Monday, August 25, 2008

Ask Deanna: Field Games for Kids

by Deanna Matzen

I'm afraid my timing isn't the best with this blog post. In Seattle it feels as though summer is drawing to a close as kids are getting ready to start school. While I hold hope for a beautiful September and October, this post may not do you much good. But hopfully it will plant a seed that will mature next summer.

This issue of Ask Deanna is about field games for kids with an ecology theme. "Anne" was in charge of her church's family camp and wanted to know if we had any resources for their camp with the theme of "Handle with Care".

Thankfully, I had not the power of the internet at my finger tips, but rather the power of interns who have worked at summer camps. So I want to share with you the games we suggested to Anne. If you have a favorite field game with a sustainbility theme, please post a comment with the description.

Mosquito, Salmon, Bear
There is a field with a line drawn half-way across. Before the round, each team decides what they're going to be, either mosquito, bear, or salmon, without letting the other team know. One team stands on one side of the line, about three feet away from it, facing out, and the other team stands on the other side of the line, about three feet away, facing out. At the count of three, the teams all turn around (so the two teams will be facing each other) and make the noise/action of the animal their team chose. Salmon chases mosquito, mosquito chases bear, and bear chases salmon to the other side of the field. Whoever is the chasing team tries to tag as many people as they can, and when they do, that person joins the other team.

The learning part comes after a few rounds, where you take one of the animals out of the food chain (the salmon) and just have the bear and mosquito. And what happens? There will be a ton of mosquitoes and no bears. In the first part you can (hopefully) point out that generally the teams moved back and forth in size and all stayed relatively equal because that's how the food chain works. When one animal gets taken out, problems arise and the food chain doesn't work. So even though mosquitoes might be annoying, they feed the salmon, which in turn feed the bears, which feed the mosquitoes.

Nature Scavenger Hunt
Send out teams to find different items in nature (i.e. leaf, needle, flower, pine cone, etc.). The first team back with an example of each item or the team with the most items wins. Items to be "found" can include things to describe. A variation could be to have the children take photos of what they find using a digital camera.
For further ideas, see:
Nature Scavenger Hunt (National Wildlife Federation)
Earth Day Nature Hunt (Windstar Foundation)

Recycling Relay
Start with a loose pile of recyclable and non-recyclable items, have teams move them from one end of the field to the other, placing them in the appropriate recycling or garbage receptacle. Points are deducted for mis-placing items and bonus points are given for the first team to finish. Alternatively you could have the children sort the items into three categories: Reduce, Reuse, or Recycle.

For further ideas, see:
Recycling Relay (Idaho Department of Environmenatl Quality)
Lesson Plan: Recycle Relay (Solid Waste District)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What fun! I want to play bear, salmon, mosquito!