The Food Chain Game

by Mike Rossetti.

The aim of this game is for children to learn about basic ecology in a fun and creative way. The Food Chain Game stimulates both creative and rational faculties by incorporating elements of both art and science.

How to play the Food chain game

1. Ask the children to paint or draw an animal/plant/insect etc. on their own. This requires a very simple set of materials, i.e. colouring pens/pencils/paint and paper.

Make sure you have a good range of organisms including plants, insects, birds, birds of prey, rodents, and top predators such as cats or foxes. Watch out for repetition of species or too many which are similar.

Restrict organisms to those found in the UK.

This will ensure a range of organisms across the trophic levels, and allow children to understand the scale of life on earth and its interdependence.

While they are drawing, ask children what they know about the species they are drawing, such as where it lives, how big is it, is it nocturnal etc

2. When all the drawings are complete, explain that all plants and animals are part of a food chain, where each one feeds on the other. Tell them that all food chains start with the sun, as it is responsible for driving all planetary biological activity.

3. Ask children to put their drawings on the floor and to arrange them in the correct order of the food chain.

Note that the maximum group size for this stage is 6 -10. If the group is larger, divide them into two groups.

Ask them to look at their chain and decide if they are happy with it. If necessary, use prompts to help them correct the chain.

4. Ask each child to hold up a picture, standing in a line in the order of their food chain.

They then symbolically ‘eat’ each other, saying, for example:

“I am an aphid, I eat plants.”

“I am a blue tit, I eat aphids.”

“I am a cat, I eat blue tits.” Etc.

5. Ask the children what they have learnt from the activity. Do they know what a food chain is?