Plants, Animals, Water, Soil

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From the book, Sharing Nature With Children
By Joseph Cornell.

Animal Clue Game

    AS A BABY, I gain about nine pounds an hour....When I'm resting, my pulse rate is 480 beats per minute.  When I'm very active, it's 1280 beats per minute.....  I have a lot of character for a guy without a back bone... I am able to breathe and drink through my moist skin; I have two webbed feet... When I'm born I look just like mom and dad, eight eyes and eight legs, and two body sections; our family doesn't have any wings or antennae.....

    The Animal Clue Game is very good for capturing the group's enthusiasm at the start of a Flow Learning session.  It breaks the ice and creates bonds between the people in the group.
    Animal Clue requires a bit of preparation.  You'll need forty 3x5 cards, on each of which you'll write a single clue to the identity of one of four animals (10 clue cards per animal).  Once you're familiar with how the game works, you should feel free to vary the number of animals and clues.
    To play, shuffle the clue cards and hand out one or two cards to each player. (It's okay to give each person clues to more than one animal.)  The players should be standing so that they can mingle freely.  Tell the players that the goal of the game is to discover the identity of each of the four animals and gather all ten clue cards that describe each animal.  Tell them not to begin until you give the signal, so that everyone can start together.
    The players call out the names of the animals they think are described on their clue cards.  A player's card might say: "You are warm-blooded and have a long tail and four feet."  The player thinks, "Maybe I'm a squirrel," so he calls out, "Squirrel!  Squirrel!" No one else shouts "Squirrel!," but someone is shouting "Otter!" and the player notices several other people heading in the Otter- Person's direction.  He checks his clue again and realizes he could be an otter, so he joins the group and they try to collect all ten otter clues.
    For quickest results, the group should choose one person to try to collect all the otter clues.  Similarly, they should assign one person to each of the other animals.  Thus, a player might want to give his otter card to the otter collector and concentrate on his other cards.
    The leader can mingle with the group, giving help as needed, but the players should rely on one another as much as possible.  Children who can't read well or who are unfamiliar with the animals should be given the easiest clues.
    Check each group's cards only when they say they've collected all ten clues.  When all the animals are identified and the clue cards are gathered, have each group read two or three of their most interesting clues aloud.

Here are some hints for writing clues:

    Unless you're working with experienced naturalists, choose animals with distinct and easily identified characteristics.  For example, one is unlikely to confuse a bear with a snake while a bear and a raccoon are harder to distinguish.  This also makes writing clues easier.
    If a clue fits two animals, add a distinguishing characteristic.  For example if you're writing clues for a frog and a whale, the clue "I have to go to the surface to get air" is ambiguous, because it applies to both animals.  Adding "....and I lay eggs."  removes the ambiguity.
    You can adapt the Animal Clue Game for use with very young children.  Just make the clues simple and draw pictures on the cards.  You might, for example , draw  a round hole in a tree with the clue "This is my home," or draw a duck's feet with the clue "My feet look like this." For young players, use fewer animals and clues.

Sample Animal Clue Game:
You can use the following clues as given,
or simplify them for young children, or omit the easiest
clues for sophisticated players.


I'm the largerst creature that ever lived on Earth.  I'm bigger than three prehistoric
dinosaurs and weigh as much as 35 African elephants.

  I can hear and talk with others of my kind over distances up to 35 miles. That's because
sound travels better in water than in air.  I also use "Sonar" like a bat.

My body has a very thick layer of blubber (up to 2 feet thick during part of the year) which keeps me warm even in ice-cold ocean waters.  With all that fat, I still look sleek and beautiful.

I'm warm-blooded and feed my young milk.  My young are born live--I don't lay eggs.

I breathe through two holes in the top of my head.  A relative of mine who has only one air-hole can hold his breath for an hour and a half and dive to ocean depths of 7,000 feet.

Because of over-hunting, there are only six of us left for every hundred that used to live and swim in the ocean.

My food is mostly a shrimp-like animal called krill.  I eat about 3 tons of krill every day.

Many animals came out of the sea to live on dry land--but I went back!

As a baby, I weigh 7 tons and am about 24 feet long.  I gain 200 pounds every day--that's about 9 pounds an hour.  When I'm three years old I'm up to 50 feet long.

I can reach swimming speeds of 28 miles per hour for brief spurts


I guard and protect "My" patch of flowers or garden.  I may eat 50 to 60 meals there in a single day.

Because of my bright and shiny colors, some names given to my kind in south and central America are:shining sunbeam, redtailed comet, white-bellied woodstar, purple-crowned fairy, and sunangle.

I have two legs, hollow bones, and I'm warm-blooded.

One of my kind is the smallest warm-blooded animal, just 2 1/4 inches long.  I use up lots of energy.  If humans expended as much energy per unit of weight as I do, they would have to eat 370 pounds of potatoes or 130 pounds of bread every day.

When I'm resting, my pulse rate is 480 beats per minute.  When I'm very active, it's 1280 beats per minute.

My food is mainly nectar sipped from flowers, but I eat insects, too.  I do not gather pollen.

I can fly up, down, sideways, forward, backward, and hover motionless in the air.  I achieve full flight speed almost instantly after takeoff.

I usually lay 2 eggs that are pea-sized and white.  My nest is an inch wide.

I have a long beak and tiny feet.

My wings move so fast they hum.  I can beat my wings up to 79 times a second.


Usually I'm brown, gray or black, but I can also be red, green or yellow.  I do not have two or four legs, and really, I'm not such a bad fellow.

I eat lots of insects, many of which carry diseases or are harmful to plants.  I wear my skeleton on the outside of my body.

I change my skin often as I grow older and larger.  This process is called molting.  I molt 4 to 12 time before I'm a full grown adult.  I never change my looks, just my size.

Scorpions, ticks, mites, and crabs are some of my relatives.

My eight simple eyes help me see to the front, behind, above, below, and to the sides.  I also have eight legs.

I have poison fangs to paralyze my prey.  I suck out their insides and discard their empty shells.

Most of us spin our own silk which we use to make egg cocoons, construct webs and traps, line our burrows, and wrap up our prey before we eat them.

When I'm born I look just like Mom and Dad--eight eyes, two body sections, and quite a few legs.  I don't have any wings or antennae, though.

There are 50,000 species of my kind.  We are very adaptable and live in many different places.  Our kind have been around for 300 million years.  Now many of us live with you in your house!

I catch a lot of insects with a trap that I make.

I am able to breathe and drink through my moist skin.  I have two webbed feet.

The males of my kind sing to attract the females.  But neither males nor females build nests or care for our babies.

I have four legs, two eyes, and a backbone.

I'm green and live in and out of water.

When I'm young I breathe water through gills.  Later, as an adult, my body changes and I develop air-breathing lungs.

My tongue is located at the tip of my mouth.  I flip it out to catch insects.

I'm cold-blooded, swim, and lay my eggs in water.

If it's cold, I'll spend my winter in the mud on the bottom of a pond.

I find safety in water from those who might try to eat me.

When I'm young I eat plants, but as I grow older I change to a diet of insects.

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From the book, Sharing Nature With Children
By Joseph Cornell.
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John Whiting
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