All Resources

Food Web Game

In this game, students experience predator-prey relationships firsthand and learn that different animals have different food needs.

All animals, including humans, need water and food to survive, but the specific food that an organism eats differs.

Herbivores are organisms that eat only plant material.
Omnivores eat both plants and animals.
Carnivores eat other animals.

A food chain describes the interaction between who is eating whom in an environment. For example, insects eat plants, squirrels eat insects and nuts, and eagles eat squirrels. Although these organisms do not only eat one thing, a food chain focuses on a line of predators and prey.

In your backyard, there is a variety of wildlife and the animals need water and food to survive just like humans. This activity explores how the interactions of predators and prey affect each other’s population size.

Objectives

  • Compare the needs of urban animals and people.

Materials

  • Per Class:
    3 colours of bibs for herbivore (insects), omnivore (squirrels) and carnivore (eagles) identities (The best ratio to have is 4 herbivores: 2 omnivores: 1 carnivore.)
    ~40 blue cards (construction paper)
    ~20 green cards (construction paper)
    ~20 brown cards (construction paper)
    5 Hula hoops (3 water stations, 2 plant stations)
    1 deck of playing cards

Key Questions

  • How did each organism survive in the game?
  • What would happen if there were fewer herbivores?
  • What if there were more carnivores?
  • How does our urban environment stay in balance?
  • How do the animals around us survive?

What To Do

Preparation

  1. Set up the game in a large space (park/gym).
  2. Hide the hula hoops (water and plant stations) throughout large space. Make sure some of them are difficult to find.
  3. Leave a pile of coloured cards at each station (blue for water, green and brown for plants.) One plant station should contain all greens, and the other all browns.

Pre-Game Information

  1. Give each student an identity bib and explain their role as either a herbivore, omnivore or carnivore.
  2. Let students know that each herbivore starts with three lives, omnivores have two lives, and carnivores have just one. Hand these out as one playing card for each life.
  3. Review the goals of the game with the students by letting them know the following:
  • herbivores must try to get 1 water card and 1 of each coloured plant card (green and brown)
  • omnivores must try to get 1 water card, 1 plant card of either colour (green or brown) and one herbivore life
  • carnivores must try to get 1 water and 2 lives from either herbivores or omnivores
  • ​lives can be taken by tagging the prey and collecting their playing cards

Game

  1. Give the herbivores a head start to find water and the 2 plant stations.
  2. After a 30-second lead, the omnivores can start running. Then, 30 seconds later, the carnivores can go.
  3. For the students who complete their goals quickly, they can become disease, famine, fire, or cold, giving them the power to take lives from all three food chain levels. When a student becomes Disease, Famine, Fire, or Cold, pause the game, and have the student remove his/her bib so that other students are aware of the role change.
  4. After the game, debrief and discuss what the students learned from playing.

Extensions

  • Add the roles disease and famine to the game from the beginning. How does the game change if these factors are included?
  • Create a poster comparing the needs of you and a backyard animal, and share with your class.