The Squirrel Game

I learned this game when I was working at Scanlon Creek Conservation Area.

Equipment: kidney beans, corn pops, or other biodegradable, non-nut items, enough for 6 per player

Explain to the girls that they will be playing the role of squirrels, trying to survive the winter season. Squirrels spend their summers and falls gathering nuts and seeds from trees and hiding them away for the winter. Red squirrels tend to hide their food in one midden; grey squirrels often have multiple caches of food.

Give each player six beans/corn pops/whatever. This represents their food supply for the winter. Explain that it is currently the month of November and the squirrels need to finish hiding their food. Give them a short time to hide their food in at least 2 separate places. They must return to where you are standing by the time you call "It's December... one... two... three!".

Now it's the month of December, and the snow begins to fall. At your signal, all squirrels need to go and find two pieces of food and return to you, before you call "It's January... one... two... three!". Squirrels who are not back in time (sometimes they forget where they hid their food, sometimes they're just slow) have died, and need to go to Squirrel Heaven (a designated waiting spot).

Surviving squirrels need to go back to their caches and return with two more pieces of food before you call "It's February... one... two... three!". Again, squirrels who did not survive the round go to Squirrel Heaven.

For the last round of the game, any squirrels who have died re-enter the game as bluejays, in competition with the remaining squirrels for the food. All animals need to go and find two more pieces of food and return to you before you call "It's March... one... two... three!"

Debrief: Squirrels who survived the entire game and found all their food are healthy and able to reproduce in the spring. What are some reasons squirrels may not have found all their hidden food? (They may forget where they placed it, food may have been stolen by another squirrel, etc.) Do you think that we found all the food that was hidden during the game? (No... see reasons above.) What happens to seeds that are hidden by squirrels for the winter and not eaten? (They sprout in the spring and grow into trees!)


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