Animal Game: Predator and Prey

This is a great game to play if you are with a group of kids who need an outside tag-type game. You can choose a food chain relationship, do a craft to create the props, and get into character!  It’s fun to act like an animal!  While you could try this with as few as two people, the more the better.

How to prepare:

  • Talk about food chains in nature.  What eats what?  (Dragonflies and frogs eat mosquitoes, snakes eat frogs, eagles eat snakes, etc)
  • How do animals, birds and insects hunt for food?  (Looking for movement, camouflage, speed and strength, etc).
  • What do the words predator and prey mean? Can you be both?
  • How do the prey sometimes save themselves from getting eaten? (Hiding, freezing movement, camouflage, etc).
  • What bugs and animals are you afraid of?  Are they important in the food chain?  What else would disappear if all the [name a prey] died?

If you could be a predator or prey animal or insect, what would you be?  Choose 1 relationship (ie. frog and grasshopper).

Do a craft! Using construction paper, pick out one colour for the predator (grasshopper) and a different colour for the prey (frog).  Make headbands with each.  There should be 1 predator for every 3-4 prey.  With extra paper, cut out the shape of the animal, have the kids colour their animal, and staple or tape animal onto headband.  To skip the craft, use bandanas or fabric to as headbands.

Lay out game field materials: I like to put a rope or stick at each end of the field to denote safe/food areas for the prey.  I use hula hoops or any other object that can go on the ground to represent safe hiding spots for prey, about 3-4 of them scattered between each end of the field.  For food tokens, you can make them from cardboard, or use poker chips or any other small object.  Food tokens go at the far end of the field.  There should be 3 for each prey.

How to play:

  1. Object: The prey must get 3 food tokens home safely to survive until the next generation (or game round).  They can only get 1 token on each trip.  If tagged on the arm/back by a predator, they move to the sidelines and hand over their tokens to the predator. The predators do get to “eat” any prey they tag, but if the prey have no or few food tokens, then it might not be enough food to reproduce.  The predators must each get 5 food tokens to survive to the next generation/game (so it pays to wait till the prey are “bigger”).
  2. All the prey start at the end of the field, behind the rope with no food tokens.
  3. The predators start on the sidelines, and must give a 10 second head start before coming on the scene, or smelling their prey (10 seconds to sunrise for diurnal animals, or sunset for nocturnal).  They must stay between the two ropes, in the main playing area.
  4. The prey and predators determine the rules, ie: A prey is safe at home behind the starting rope, hiding with one foot in a hula hoop, or when “frozen/camouflaged” anywhere and not laughing or moving. A laugh can get them tagged!
  5. Prey moves to get food.  After 10 seconds, the predators move in to tag them.  This goes on until everyone is eaten or safe and fed.
  6. For next round, have the survivors play their original part, and those eaten play the opposite part.  (You may need extra headbands for this).  It may be very unbalanced, ie. too many predators.  Play it out, talk about how that might happen in nature and possible results.  Determine how you would like to play the next round, perhaps giving everyone a chance at each role.

Here’s a similar version online:

http://www.miamisci.org/ecolinks/activities/Biosphere/predator/

 

Tara Beninger is from Victoria and enjoys playing predator and prey games as a fun ecology learning tool.