Natural objects and hidey-holes! Magnifying glasses if you have them.
Skinny Woods, Hawkhill
Innocent Walkway, Craigmillar
This game encourages observation of our natural surroundings, to make us
more aware of the many animals living around us. It helps us to
recognise which signs we can look out for to detect animal activity. It
also prompts thinking about food chains and animal welfare.
If there are more than
four children, divide the group up into small teams. Give the teams
Scottish animal names (eg. otters, eagles, blackbirds, snails). Tell
them that although they're in separate teams, they are working together
as one large group.
Start off by
asking each team to name 5 different wild animals that you would
find in the local area - and be sure to remind them that the team names
don't count! If the children are young, general answers such as
'birds' will count. Older kids should be able to name kinds of
birds. (Here are some examples for Craigmillar: Bats, Foxes, Squirrels,
Hedgehogs, Sparrowhawks, Blackbirds, Sparrows, Gulls, Crows, Rabbits,
Mice, Voles, Beetles (Ladybirds), Worms, Slugs, Ants, Bees, Spiders,
Millipedes, Butterflies, Moths).
The next task is
for the teams to find and point out 4 different shelters that
their animals might use as homes (e.g. holes in the grass, holes in the
ground, trees, bushes, nests, etc)
Task three is to
find 3 different things that animals could eat. 'Leaves' only count as
one thing here - although grass could be seen as separate from
tree leaves, as long as the teams can name different animals that eat
grass to those that eat tree leaves! Other things: seeds (small
birds/mice), berries (small birds and mammals), pollen
(beetles/bees), nectar (bees/butterflies/moths), tree sap (ants), tree
bark (rabbits, voles), the underneath ('cambium') of tree bark (bark
beetles), nuts (squirrels, mice, insects), pine cones (squirrels / mice/
birds), dead wood (slaters/) and, of course, other animals such as small
mammals / small birds / worms, spiders and insects (eaten by foxes /
sparrowhawks / bats / hedgehogs / spiders).
Task four is to
find 2 different signs that an animal has been here. This could include
gnawed bark, molehills, spiders' webs, holes eaten in leaves (adult detectives - spot which leaf
holes have been made by children!), stripped pine cones, half eaten
berries/nuts/seeds, broken snail shells, animal tracks in mud or snow, pellets from crows,
owls or sparrowhawks (containing undigested animal skeletons or fur and
feathers) and, of course, animal droppings!
The fifth and
final task is to come up with 1 way to help the local wildlife survive.
This could be anything from clearing up litter (small rodents can get
stuck in metal cans, larger animals can get caught up in plastic
beer-can holders and plastic bags), to making bat and bird boxes and
hedgehog homes, or leaving out seed cakes for birds in winter.
If you want to give the teams an
added incentive for playing this, then teams could score points for each
item they come up with. They only get a point if they come up with
something that's different from the other teams. All the teams' points
could then be added together at the end. If, together, they have
exceeded the 'magic number' (a reasonably attainable number thought up
by you at the beginning), then everyone gets some kind of reward! If
you're going to do this, then best explain it at the beginning and tell
the teams what the 'magic number' is.