Animal Town

by Shelly Carter

Shelley teaches kindergarten. She is married and recently had a baby girl named Erin.

Instructional Objective Players will be able to identify animals given the habitat they live in and clues telling some of their characteristics.

Learners/Context Appropriate for grades K - 4. Learners have an understanding of animal habitats ("towns"). May be used for instruction, practice, remediation or enrichment. Students at the K/1 grade level will, in general, need adult supervision to assist in reading the clue cards. K/1 students may also be supervised by a grade 2-4 student. This would provide an opportunity for cooperative learning and peer tutoring.

Rationale When I first thought of this idea, I created the card concept first. I felt that once that was done, the board aspect added some fun and challenge to learning about animals and their habitats. A card game would have been monotonous, and simply listing animals and their habitats on the board would not be very fun. It also requires some strategic thinking. Should the player try to guess on the first clue to get another turn at the risk of losing that card? Or, do they ask for the second clue to get the card at the risk of losing an extra turn?

Rules Roll the die to see who goes first. Highest number first, then play goes in a clockwise direction from the first person. In the event of a tie, those who tied roll again.

Each player rolls the die and moves the correct number of spaces in a clockwise direction around the board; follow the arrow-shaped spaces.

If a player lands on a town (habitat) space, the person to his/her left picks a corresponding town card, and reads the first clue. If the player correctly answers after the first clue, he keeps the card and goes again. If he answers incorrectly, his turn ends, and the card is placed face down at the bottom of its respective pile. If the player does not want to guess after the first clue, he may choose to hear the second clue. If the player answers correctly after hearing the second clue, he keeps the card but does not get to go again. If he answers incorrectly, the card is placed face down at the bottom of its respective pile.

Important notes Once a player has given an incorrect answer after the first clue, he may not ask to hear the second clue. If the player guesses an incorrect answer, whether it is after the first or second clue, the person reading the card is to tell the correct answer before replacing it to the pile. This allows for learning opportunities for the person who missed the question, as well as the others playing.

If a player lands on a pink space, she may move one space either forward or back. Then they may attempt to answer the clue card for the habitat space they landed on.

If a player lands on a purple space, they get another turn.

If a player lands on an orange slide space, they may slide across the board to any other orange space on the board. That is the end of that turn.

If a player lands on a town space and they already have that card, they do not try for another card. That is the end of that turn.

Design Process The educational aspect of the game was not difficult to come up with, but I felt that blending the fun and maintaining instructional integrity was more difficult. I wanted the students to have to think, not only about animals and their habitats, but also about planning their moves and risk-taking. This was not a stated objective, but a byproduct that some students will take advantage of and others will miss completely. I created two clues to help this unstated objective. The first clue is to be more difficult and the second is basically a give-away. After a few turns I feel that students will realize that they can successfully answer the question if they hear both clues. The game then becomes not only a question of who can answer the questions or clues, but how are the students using strategy to play the game.

Some will be willing to take risks to gain an extra turn and others will play more conservatively. And then there's the factor of the luck of the roll!

I wanted the playing time to be relatively short. I have found that younger children are more motivated if the game goes quickly. Since there can be only one winner, that leaves up to four non-winners. Those non-winners are eager to play again in hopes of victory. If the time between their loss and the possibility of victory is short, they are more likely to enjoy the game.