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Plant Relay Game

Native plants are an important part of our local ecosystem. In this activity, students will learn about the look of some native plants, as well as the uses, characteristics and names of these plants.

This activity also addresses some of the common weeds, often invasive species, found in urban environments. These plants have gotten a bad reputation, because they grow where people don’t plant them, and they are often hard to get rid of; their beneficial features are often ignored or poorly understood.

When we know what a plant species looks like, we can find and identify them. When we know what they can be used for, we know why we should protect them. Historically, understanding the use of plants was greatly important. During Carl Linnaeus’ time, studying plants and their uses was part of the medical field, because herbal remedies were a common method of treatment for ailments.

Within environmental conservation, an important and timely theme is that of invasive species and native species. Although species distribution has never been constant, a native species is defined as a species that has originated in this region. An invasive species is one that has recently come into a particular ecosystem, and threatens local species or the entire ecosystem. It is important to be able to identify plants, not only for their uses, but to be able to know which ones are causing stress on an ecosystem of interest.

Teacher's Note:
This activity can be done with either set of cards, or it can be played two separate times each time with a different set of cards. It is important to separate these two sets of cards however, because the importance of the topics of invasive species (often weeds) and native species should not be blurred.


  • Identify some examples of local plants and some of their uses.


Key Questions

  • Do these plants have anything in common?
  • Have you seen these plants before?
  • What are some uses of these plants?

What To Do


  1. Use the Plant Relay cards provided or consult a native plant guide to find five examples of local plants in your neighbourhood.
  2. The information for each plant example will have two cards: a picture card and a card with a description and use of the plant.
  3. Create enough cards so that each team will be able to collect both cards for each plant example.


  1. Place the cards in two different nearby areas. Place all picture cards together in one area, and the information cards in the other.
  2. Mark a third area (team area) where teams will have to start from and return to. They must be in this area to match up and discuss their cards.
  3. Organize players into groups of roughly ten people. Ask the groups to move into the team area. Point out the two areas groups will run to.


  1. After the start signal, have one team member run to pick up a name/information card and bring it back to the group. This person now will read out the name and information to the whole group.
  2. The next member in the group runs with the information on the card in mind and in hand, to pick up the picture card they think matches the description. Run the picture card back to the group to see if everyone agrees.
  3. If the group thinks the two cards match, then repeat steps 1 and 2 until the group has matched all five plants.
  4. If a group thinks the cards do not match, they can have a team member run back and switch one of the cards.
  5. Remind players that they cannot collect more than one plant card during any running/collecting time.
  6. Once a team thinks they have all five plants matched in their set, have them sit down. Once all teams are done or there are no more cards, the game is over.
  7. Gather the groups and discuss their answers.


  • Try this activity with native birds or animals.
  • Try this activity using examples found in the school garden or neighbourhood park, so that students will have to find the living example.
  • Try this activity using invasive plant species to help increase awareness of noxious plants.


  • To continue this activity, have groups find native species nearby on an exploration. They can draw or photograph the plants they find.
  • Together, work on making a deck of identification cards for plants that you see around you daily. See how many cards you can make.
  • Make a map of plants you can identify near your school or house.

Other Resources

Some Useful Wild Plants (1972) by Dan Jason, Nancy Jason, Dave Manning, Robert Inwood & Tom Perry.