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Elise S. Greene John Hope Community Academy
5515 S. Lowe
Chicago IL 60621
This activity is suitable for students in grades 4 thru 12. As a result of the
student's becoming "deer" and components of habitat in a highly involved
physical activity, they will be able to: 1) identity and describe food, water,
and shelter as three essential components of habitat; 2) describe the importance
of good habitat for animals; 3) define "limiting factors" and give examples; and
4) recognize that some fluctuations in wildlife populations are natural as
ecological systems undergo constant change.
stop watch or watch with a second hand, whistle, masking tape, stickers for
writing the name "deer" on them, area- either indoors or outdoors- large enough
for students to run; e.g. playing field, gym room, classroom with desk and
chairs moved; chalkboard or flip chart; writing materials.
1. Begin by telling students that they are about to participate in an activity
that emphasizes the most essential things that animals need to survive. Review
the essential components of habitat with the students: food, water, shelter, and
space in a suitable arrangement. Define for students the key science vocabulary
for the unit. Science Vocabulary: habitat, limiting factors, predator, prey,
population, balance of nature, ecosystem, static, fluctuate.
2. Have students to count off in 4's. Have all the 1's to go to one area; all
the 2's, 3's and 4's go together to another area. Mark two parallel lines on
the ground or floor 10 to 20 yards apart. Have the 1's line up behind one line;
the rest of the students line up behind the other line.
3. The 1's become "deer". The "deer" need to find food, water and shelter in
order to survive. When a deer is looking for food, it should clamp its hand
over its stomach. When it is looking for water, it puts its hand over its
mouth. When it is looking for shelter, it holds its hands together over its
head. A deer can choose to look for any one of its needs during each round of
the activity; the deer cannot, however, change what it is looking for; when it
sees what is available during that round. It can change again what it is
looking for in the next round, if it survives.
4. The other students are components of habitat. Each student gets to choose at
the beginning of each round which component he/she will be during that round.
The students depict which component they are, in the same way the deer show what
they are looking for.
5. The game starts with all players lined up on their respective lines, with
their backs to the students at the other line. The teacher begins the first
round by asking all of the students to make their signs- each deer deciding what
it is looking for, each habitat component deciding what it is. When the
students are ready, blow the whistle. When the whistle is blown, each deer and
habitat component turn to face the opposite group, continuing to hold their
signs clearly. When deer see the habitat component they need, they are to run
to it. Each deer must hold the sign of what it is looking for until it gets to
the habitat component person with the same sign. Each deer that reaches its
necessary habitat component takes that component back to the deer side of the
line. This represents the deer successfully meeting its needs and reproducing.
Any deer that fails to find its food, water, or shelter dies and becomes part of
the habitat in the next round to the deer that are still alive.
6. The recorder will keep track of how many deer there are at the beginning of
the game and at the end of each round. Continue the game for approximately 15
rounds. Keep the pace brisk.
7. At the end of the 15 rounds, gather the students together to discuss the
activity. Encourage them to talk about what they experienced and saw. Using a
chalkboard, post the data recorded during the game. List this information in
graph form. The number of deer at the beginning of the game and at the end of
each round represent the number of deer in a series of years. The beginning of
the game is one year; each round is an additional year. Deer can be posted by
fives for convenience. The students will see this visual reminder of what they
experienced during the game.
1. In small group discussion, ask the students to summarize some of the things
they have learned from this activity. What do animals need to survive? What
are some of the "limiting factors" that affect their survival? Are wildlife
populations static or do they fluctuate, as part of an overall "balance of
nature"? Is nature ever really balanced, or are ecological systems involved in
a process of constant change?
Directions: Write the correct letter next to the word from the definitions on
the opposite side of the page.
___ habitat A. animal seized by another for food.
___ limiting factors B. at rest, not moving over time
___ predator C. natural living place
___ prey D. keep changing
___ population E. total number of inhabitants
___ balance of nature F. preying on other animals for food
___ ecosystem G. conditions that limit a populations growth
___ static H. term used to describe the fluctuation of
a species population
___ fluctuate I. a community and its environment as it
functions in nature.
1. Name the 3 essential components of habitat?
2. Define "limiting factors". Give 3 examples.
3. Examine the graph. What factors may have caused the following population
changes: a. between years 1 & 2? b. between 3 & 4? c. between 5 & 6? d.
between 7 & 8?
p s |. . .
u i | . . .
l z | . .
a e |______________________ year
t 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
4. Which of the following graphs represents the more typically balanced
p s |
o i | . . . . . . . . .
p z |
e |_________________ time
p s | .
o i | . . . . . .
P z | . .
e |__________________ time