Activity- Animal Habitat

While completing a placement at the Toronto Botanical Gardens, I learned a new game to play with children. This activity fostered ecoliteracy and promoted an awareness of being a part of nature. I liked this activity because it showed how societies actions can diminish animal habitat or we can sustain it and protect it.

A large open space
A long rope (40ft, it can be larger or smaller depending on the amount of kids)

How to play
Everyone holds onto the rope and makes a large circle, the rope is then laid down on the ground in the shape of the circle. For this example I will use the coyote as the animal, but you could use any animal that you feel would be appropriate. The children all step into the circle after explaining to them that they are all coyotes. The children are all told that coyotes need their personal space, so when moving around in the circle be sure not to come to close to another coyote. The children are then asked to move around freely in the circle like a coyote, easy so far. Then freeze is called several minutes later and the children are asked to come out of the circle and back behind the rope. The educator explains that when the coyotes were roaming a developer came in and bought some land for a new subdivision. The educator then makes the circle smaller and the coyotes are asked to go back to being coyotes. As the children are running and moving inside the circle mindful to keep space of the other coyotes, freeze is called once again. The children come back out of the circle to stand around it. The educator explains that when the people began to move into the subdivision they needed a grocery store to buy their food and a parking lot to park their cars. The circle gets smaller and the children have a harder time moving around. These steps are repeated adding a movie theater, a mall and whatever else you like, until the coyotes can't move around. The children come out of the circle and a quick discussion is had about how the coyotes are feeling, what they are eating or not eating and anything else that might be affecting them by their shrinking habitat. The group is then asked to brainstorm some ideas that we could use to sustain the coyote population. The activity goes through the whole process again in reverse, but this time the circle gets bigger when the children come up with pro coyote ideas. Some examples of this would be planting more trees, increasing the coyotes food and water sources and advocating for sustainable development.