Dec. 5-9: Features of Creatures
Creatures have features. These specific adaptations make them what they are and not something else. A living critter may have feathers, fur, flippers, feet, or fins (and those are just the ones that I can think of that start with the letter “f”). Scientists like to classify and name living things based on the features that living things have.
A great game to get children up and running about, while at the same time using their imaginations to think of the characteristics of different critters is “Ranger Ranger”. To get the group thinking about features before getting into the game, I’ll lead a short discussion about what makes a reptile different from a mammal or a bird from a tree.
Ranger, Ranger Running Game
When you get out to the grounds start off by making a rectangular field. Have all the children line up on one end of the rectangle facing the opposite end.
Their goal is to get to the other end of the field and back without getting tagged. If they get tagged they become a carnivorous plant, a pitcher plant or venus fly trap, and remain rooted in one spot, but they are able to tag others that get too close. If they get all the way to the end and back they are safe.
They are trying to avoid one or two players who have been identified as rangers. To pick the rangers ask the children to do their best imitation of a local species (lobster, jellyfish, butterfly, turtle, or whatever). It gets a bit silly and there is nothing cuter than a line up of children acting like lobsters.
The rangers run throughout the playing field trying to tag as many people as they can.
I ask the children to imagine that I have magically transformed them into their favourite creature and get them imagining about their bodies and what it would feel like if they have fins, wings, a different nose or even gills.
To start the round, the players call to the ranger: “Ranger, Ranger, May we cross your forest?”
And the ranger replies, “Only if you have __________!” (could be a tail, fur, ears, big teeth, or any feature a living thing may have-and I usually get the rangers to tell me what feature they are going to be looking for, to be sure that enough children are going to run.)
Once the rangers call out the feature that they are looking for, only those children with that feature are supposed to make a run for it.
Play three rounds and then switch up the rangers to free the pitcher plants and give others the opportunity to do some tagging.
This is a good activity to teach similarities and differences and can even be adapted to include a lesson about animal classification and adaptation.
Each newsletter, I write a Feature Creature column where I give clues to help unravel the identity of a creature. You can check out the Winter 2011 edition of the Sandpiper (Page 17) and see if you can identify this season’s mystery creature.