The Survival Game
Natural Leaders - Environmental Games and Activities by the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) /Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) available from NTS
- To 'survive' the Winter by collecting enough 'food' in the Autumn to last you until Spring
- To appreciate that animals need to find shelter, food and water and avoid predation in order to survive
You will need
- food tokens (pine cones or acorns if available) drawn on card if not
- shelter tokens (picture of an umbrella)
- water tokens (blue card)
- string for "tails" (optional)
Did you know?
When a hedgehog hibernates, its heartbeat decreases from 190 beats per minute to 20 beats per minute and its body temperature drops from 35°C to 10°C. This helps them conserve energy and live longer off their fat reserves. They also need to find somewhere well insulated and dry in which to hibernate. If they don't find a good place they get too cold and either wake up, and have to look for somewhere else, or they freeze!
Before the activity
Explain that Winter is a difficult time for many animals. Ask the group why? What has happened to all the juicy plants, nuts fruits, berries and seeds?
Describe how some animals get through the Winter by getting very fat in the Autumn and the using up very little energy through the Winter by hibernating. (like hedgehogs) and that other animals store food in 'caches' (like squirrels and beavers)
Make the tokens and tails. You could use real acorns or cones for the food tokens. Shelter tokens could have a picture of an umbrella. Water tokens could be blue card.
- hide the tokens (not too well) on an area of ground about 50 metres from the start point
- set a time limit (for example 15 minutes), then release the participants to collect a set number of tokens
- call the group back when time is up and see who has collected enough tokens to survive
Play again using one or more of these variations:
- Add shelter tokens. Participants have to collect less of these but you could fix it so that unlike the food tokens there will not be enough to go round.
- Add water tokens so that there are 3 types of tokens to collect.
- Add 'predators' who collect 'tails' by pulling them from the collectors. Collectors might be out when they lose a tail or might be able to run back to base and get another 'tail'.
- Organise the players into families so that they work as a team, and 'survive' as a team (one team member could act as look out or distract predators while the rest collect etc.)
- Use a rope to mark the collection zone from the safe zone. Collectors cannot lose tails in the safe zone only in the collection zone.
Suggested Follow up
- Find out more about hibernation and which animals hibernate
- Make a hedgehog hibernation house
- Some birds and butterflies migrate to avoid winter in Scotland altogether. Play the Winter Flocks Game or research the migration of red admirals or painted ladies.
Many animals that hibernate do wake up during warm spells in Winter. The only Scottish mammals that truly hibernate are hedgehogs and bats. Badgers stay in their underground nests when the weather is very cold and just rest up and live on their fat reserves for a period of time.
Hedgehog information factsheet
Science - main