Play, learn and have fun games!

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General Environmental and Bike Games

Downloaded from 4-June-02

Most of the games included can be played anywhere. Keep in mind age and maturity of the group and adjust accordingly. All games can be fun for any type of group, as long as they are presented appropriately!!

  1. Set-up the game first and then explain how it works.

  2. Keep explanation and rules to a minimum.

  3. Keep your goal in mind; what do you want the participants to get out of the game? (Many of these games focus on awareness of nature around us.)

  4. Get kids to feel comfortable outside.

  5. Spend time after games asking kids if they had fun? What did they learn?

Meet a Tree

Divide the children into pairs. One gets blindfolded and the other leads their partner (the long, confusing way) to a tree. The blindfolded one uses their senses other than sight to identify the tree. Their partner then leads them back to the starting point (indirectly). The object is to take the blindfold off and, then, to find “their” tree. Switch so that each gets a chance to “meet a tree.”

Be sure to mention blindfold safety, in leading partners carefully. If necessary set boundaries, keeping dangerous areas out of bounds. This is a good way to talk about different types of trees, who lives off them, what types of trees are not found here, etc.
Who am I?

pictures of animals or plants

tape or safety pins
Tape or safety pins a picture on each person’s back (best to have animals of a certain group). The object is to find out what you are by asking yes or no questions. This is a good game to encourage mingling, so everybody is allowed to ask each other person only one question at a time, then they have to move on to someone else.

Try using animals found in the area and then challenge everyone to try to find their animal sometime during the day, or talk about why it might be hard to find their creature. Or use exotic animals and discuss why those animals are not found in this sort of habitat.

Food Chain Lapsit

no materials needed

Students “become” their creature from “Who am I?” Everyone tries to find food connections between themselves and others in the group and link arms with others that they rely on. For spaces remaining, students verbally fill in the missing links and join arms until the circle is complete. Everyone drops arms, turns and forms a circle of feet, heel to toe. Everyone’s job is to create a lap for the person, in front of them, then slowly sit down on the one behind. Lots of co-operation is needed for this!! Be careful to do this one on soft sand.

Sounds and Colors

no materials needed
Stop anywhere along the trail and have everyone stand very still (or sit) and close their eyes. The challenge is to see how many different sounds they hear and count them out on their hands.
After about a minute, discuss what sounds people noticed. What sounds were heard that you would not hear in the city? What sounds were the same? Would we have been able to hear these sounds if we had not been perfectly still? This helps focus on things happening in nature.
You can do a similar activity focusing on colors. Start by asking everyone to call out the first two colors that they see. Then, have each person look at one section of the forest, and without moving their heads, count how many different colors they see. Remember that different shades count as different colors. How many people lost count because there are so many colors? What was the one color that they were surprised to find?
Rainbow Chips

colored pieces of paper

(cut up paint samples work well)
Give each child several chips of the “rainbow.” The object is simply to find the colors somewhere in nature. This is a good game for younger children. For older groups, have them find the color of their shirt, pants, someone else’s eyes, etc. in the forest.

Scavenger Hunt

scavenger hunt list
Give everybody a scavenger hunt list – put the lists on index cards and laminate with contact paper to protect and reuse them. Ideas for hunt: a feather, three seeds, something smooth, something that smells, something beautiful, something round, a sign that an animal lives here, five signs that man has been here (litter), etc. Remind everyone to collect only things that can be put back (except for the litter – emphasize putting litter in the garbage at the end).
Animal Parts/Charades
Animal parts is for groups of four or five. Tell each group the name of an animal they will portray, or have them choose their own creature. The object is to act out the animal with each person in the group portraying a different body part, i.e., a wing, the head, the beak. The other groups get a chance to guess what the animal is.
Charades is another fun way to learn about animals. This can have many variations. Each person can act out an animal by himself or herself, or stay in groups. They can come up with their own, or you can give them cards with the name of an animal. To make it more challenging, write something that animal would do on the card, i.e., a squirrel gathering acorns, birds making a nest, coyotes howling at the moon, etc.

Predator - Prey

This game helps to introduce and talk about food chains. Get the group into a circle and ask everyone to come up with one predator-prey relationship. Choose one hawk and one mouse (or snake and shrew, etc.) to go into the middle. The object is for the predator to tag the prey. You can blindfold the predator, or both. Be sure to stress silence from the “forest”, the folks who are part of the circle. The predator can be a bat and say “bat”, while the prey is a moth and has to say “moth” in response to “bat”, (you know, radar). Use this to discuss how different animals catch their prey and how some protect themselves from getting eaten.
Blind Eagle

The eagle is blindfolded and sits cross-legged with the “treasure” (a rock or piece of wood) placed in front of him/her. The starting line for everyone else is about 20 feet away from the eagle, and their object is to steal the treasure without being heard by the eagle. If the eagle hears someone, he/she points to them and they are out for that round. It’s best if you stand next to the eagle to judge if the eagle really hears someone. The eagle is not allowed to wave his hands around; the pointing has to be specific and the stealers are not allowed to run.

This game can lead to a discussion on animal adaptations. Who is best suited for stealing the treasure? Why? Who was not suited? What would have made stealing easier?
Noah’s Ark

Fun game
Find your mate amid the herd of cavorting beasts and birds on Noah’s Ark.

Count # of players in group, then make list of animals half as long as # of players

Write the name of each animal on two 3x5 cards, adjusting for odd # w/third mate in 1 group if necessary.

Shuffle the cards, pass them out.

Each child reads card and becomes the animal on it, keeping it secret. Collect cards.

On signal, all players act out sounds, shapes, movements of animals with intention of attracting mates; it’s pretty hilarious. They can make all the noise they want, but talking is prohibited – each animal must attract mate just be authenticity of behavior.

End in laughter, good icebreaker.

Materials: index cards, writing utensil

Make interconnections in web of life clear

Children form circle; have children name a plant that grows here; next, is there an animal around that might eat that plant? Who eats that animal? Keep going. Bring in other animals, as well as soil, water, rocks (become soil, lichen), etc. until whole group is strung together as web of life.
Now, create plausible impacts or elimination’s for some member of web (e.g., the water gets polluted, or the tree is felled, etc.) when the water is polluted or the tree falls, that child tugs the string, anyone who feels this original tug is somehow affected, and so on, until all have felt tugs and made tugs.
Sample web and scenarios (appropriate for Mt. Tam area):

Lupine (eaten by) mission blue butterfly (eaten by) land bird or fish-eating water bird (eaten by) raptor (dies, eaten by) vulture (decomposer). Bird lives in oak tree, along with some squirrels (eaten by) bobcats. The plants grow the soil and all the animals, including humans and plants drink the local water and breathe the local air (can add deer, raccoons, etc.)

Possible impacts: tree falls, water polluted, butterfly extinct, DDT residue in soil, sulfur and nitrogen oxides in air from combustion of fossil fuels, ozone deteriorated, overhunting of bobcats, etc.

Apple Ocean
See apple as the world

Cut into quarters

¾ earth’s surface is water; ¼ is land

Cut land into ½ -- only ½ land (1/8 total earth) is habitable; the rest is desert, mountains, frozen icecaps, and other region that can’t be inhabited by humans.

Take piece of habitable land and cut into four – only ¼ habitable land (or 1/32 of whole earth) is where all the food comes from.

While asking kids “What would happen if this arable land were damaged or destroyed?”, eat that part of the apple.

Take a small shaving off 1 of the water quarters.

Less than 1% of the earth’s water is fresh and drinkable; most of this is in the atmosphere, clouds, and underground.

While asking what would happen if water were polluted or wasted, eat the sliver.
Lead the discussion about taking care of resources.
Materials: apple, knife
Stats about water on earth:

Oceans 97.2% of total

All icecaps/glaciers 2%

Groundwater .62%

Freshwater lakes .009%

Inland seas/salt lakes .008%

Atmosphere .001%

All rivers .0001%

All the water available for human use:

Groundwater .62%

Freshwater lakes .009%

Rivers .0001%


Treasure Hunt

Have each kid pick at least 3 pieces of trash from the ground.

Use the chart below to find out how long each piece of trash would take to decompose and explain why it is good idea for them to place the trash in the garbage can.
Cigarette butts 1-5 years

Paper Airplane 1-5 months

Aluminum cans and tabs 80-100 years

Plastic 6-pack holders 450 years

Orange and banana peels up to 2 years

Plastic Bags 10-20 years

Nylon Fabric 30-40 years

Leather up to 50 years

Tin Cans 100 years

Wool Socks 1-5 years

Glass Bottles Unknown

Styrofoam NEVER

Bike Limbo Game

Trips for Kids Kansas City
After riding for about 1½ hours then having lunch, it’s good to do something that keeps the kids excited but doesn’t immediately bring the lunch back up. So we here in KC play bike limbo, an idea that was given to us from TFK Gainesville in Georgia—thanks guys! It’s really very simple, and YES it’s possible (and required) to play this on bikes.

  1. Find a long, somewhat straight piece of deadfall free of thorns or nasty knots for use as the limbo stick.

  2. Recruit two volunteers to hold the stick at either end.

  3. Line the kids up single-file at a start line about twenty yards away from the stick.

  4. Have the kids (and all interested volunteers) ride under the stick single-file and while staying in order (both very important for safety and to prevent bickering), then circle back around to the start.

  5. Lower the stick each “round” for about seven rounds until it’s very difficult Encourage the kids with applause and such while they go through and as they come up with creative ways of getting low (such as swinging their body to one side as in a rodeo, while only balancing on one pedal)

  6. We don’t actually make the kids quit when they fail ride beneath the stick, as it usually turns into a game of creativity instead of competition, but that’s up to you

  7. When finished, hide the limbo stick somewhere where you can easily retrieve it next time you’re back for the TFK ride

Get looooooooow and have fun!
Building Self-Esteem in the Kids

Prepared by Bruce Coffman, TFK Kansas City Director

What is it?
Self-esteem is the ability to see oneself as capable and competent, lovable and loving, unique and valuable.
Why is it so important?
It gives children the energy to grow up as healthy and well-balanced, responsible and contributing members of society.
Some feel that the most important thing you can give children, more important than any material thing you might be concerned about, is a sense of self-confidence. Self-esteem seems to be the foundation for self-confidence.
How can it be built?
Building healthy self-esteem in children is primarily the work of loving. A loving atmosphere is necessary for everyone, one in which you can love and be loved.
Children are most apt to bloom and grow in a loving environment that says to them:

I’m your friend, not your adversary. I’m on your side and we face this task together.

I believe in you.”
Three faces to self-esteem:

  • An attitude

  • A need

  • A source of energy

Another key belief about self-esteem…
Success helps build self-esteem.
Ten specific ways we can help build self-esteem at Trips for Kids:

  1. Call the kids by their names (preferred names) as much as possible, and say them correctly

  2. Emphasize similarities you have with them

  3. Be real and don’t pretend

  4. Never embarrass the kids

  5. State the positive without evaluating

  6. Point out a child’s increasing skill

  7. Be aware that you’re a model

  8. Allow the kids to help

  9. Involve the kids in choices

  10. Help the kids be positive about themselves

Note: all above definitions, quotes and ideas have been adapted from Patricia H. Berne and Louis M. Savary’s “Building Self-Esteem in Children” for the sole purpose of training Trips for Kids Kansas City’s Ride Leaders and Volunteers.
Flip the Nest

Trips for Kids Dunkirk – Gary Shain

Supplies Needed: 3 medium sized tarps all the same size.
Length of Activity: 15-20 minuets
Description of Activity: Youth are asked to break into two or three equal sized co-ed groups. They are then given instructions as follows:

  • Tarps will be set on ground near each other.

  • All youth in each group are asked to stand on their teams individual groups tarp.

  • They are then instructed to flip tarp completely over onto other side without any team member stepping off of tarp.

  • Team that does so most easily is to explain how they approached to the problem

How does learning take place? Youth will probably attempt to solve this dilemma as a competition between the individual teams as a race. This problem solving exercise is to teach that there are many ways to solve a problem. Learning is in-group format.
Comments: Teams will be told that at no time during instructions, were they told that they could not step off their tarp and onto the other teams tarp as they flip theirs over. This is then illustrated to them to show how much more easily problem could have been solved if participants were more willing to enlist assistance from other instead of proceeding alone.
* An adaptation of Teamwork & Teamplay by Jim Cain & Barry Jolliff
Riding Skills ©

Trips for Kids Dunkirk - Gary Shain

Supplies Needed: Cones, Blocks, Boards, Rope, Stakes, Balance board
Length of Time: 1 to 1-1/2 hour
Skills Learned: Balance, Front and Rear Braking and Body Control
Description of Activity: Riding Skills will be taught by creating an obstacle course for riders to attempt. Youth will take a pre-ride trip through the pre-set course. No special instructions are given at this point. (Youth will probably become competitive.) When told that being timed will be involved, some may become daredevils. Object of course is to ride through the most slowly. This will build an awareness of balance and handling skills. This can be done numerous times throughout the summer for self-improvement.
How will learning take place? Learning will emphasize skill not speed. Youth will learn that some people enjoy different types of riding. (Casual, fast, up hill, down hill, etc.) All types need to emphasize skill and safety. This rewards all levels and types of athleticism and allows for less strong riders to excel.
Comments: A good idea is to form this into an end of season tournament to include other local cycling groups along with some of your sponsors and have trophies for all competitors.


Trips for Kids Dunkirk -Gary Shain

Supplies Needed: Journal
Length of Time: N/A
Skills Learned: Self-Awareness and Self-Expression
Description of Activity: Each activity used during “Trips for Kids” Dunkirk will end with the opportunity for youth to write, draw or expand upon their individual experience. Poems, essays, or drawings may then be used in processing conversations and, with permission, used on web sites or newsletters.
How will learning take place? These opportunities of self-expression, like many opportunities in “Trips for Kids”, are new and therefore valuable for that reason alone. Encouraging self-expression in writing or drawing may allow some participants, for the first time, to experience real inner awareness.
Comments: Encourage this and make it something that all look forward to. Allow youth to decorate, customize or maybe even just scribble on “their” journals any way that they need to in order to take ownership of this component of the program.
A Shovel Full of Earth

Trips for Kids Dunkirk – Gary Shain

Supplies Needed: Tarps, shovels, sticks, magnifying glasses, microscopes, small plastic jars with lids, journals
Length of Time: 1 to 1-1/2 hours
Skills Learned: An awareness of ones surroundings and our responsibility to care for those surroundings. Cooperation.
Description of Activity: Break group into 3 or 4 person co-ed teams. Give out needed supplies. Tell youth to “stake their claim” of land along a trail. Setting tarps on ground, tell youth to dig a small hole in ground and place the dirt onto the tarp. Using sticks and magnifying glasses, identify everything living. (worms, termites, ants, grubs, etc.)
How will learning take place? Learning will be based on hands on experience. Discoveries will be recorded in journals and youth will carefully return their sites to the way they were, being sure to care for living creatures. Group processing through conversation will occur next.
Comments: A good resource is A shovel full of Earth. by Lorus & Margery Milne. Another opportunity is to set forth a task to find a downed tree and count the rings. This adds the component of age and time to their discoveries. Nature Awareness Badges awarded.
* Adapted from the National Boys & Girls Club Curriculum “The Ultimate Journey”


Cornell, Joseph. Sharing Nature with Children. This is an excellent book designed for opening up children of all ages mind’s to the wonders of the outdoors. A must-have.
Fluegelman, Andrew. The New Games Book. Another general, fun games book.

This one focuses a lot on co-operation, everyone wins, games.

Harris, Frank. Games. A general fun games book. Many games can be adapted to incorporate ecological concepts.
Trips for Kids chapters around North America.

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