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ecology games?  RSS feed

 
Kelda Miller
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I'm co-teaching a permaculture course this fall, and the other teacher and I really like using games while we 'teach'. The students love it also, (as evidenced in 'best of yesterday' info...).

I've been trying to think of some good ecology games for our topic next weekend. I like a 'cougar-deer' Mother May I, but am trying to think of something that incorporates plants too. As I'm brainstorming about it I thought I'd ask others. Ecology is such a big topic, applied to things like agroforestry and forest gardens.

Any teachers have good games for that one?
 
Leah Sattler
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soil race - see which teams can "build the soil" fastest by carrying dirt back and forth on a spoon. Put a strong fan and a sprinkler on the dirt piles to make the point Teams could be named after areas with soil erosion problems.

organic potato sack race.

pin the "future" on the sustainable forests/communities/farms (on a map, with your eyes open)

biodiversity pinata- put small purposeful holes in it and fill it with some things that will fall out easy and some that won't. After everyone gives it a wack examine the contents. no one person probably "wacked out" very many "species" but after everyone gives it a wack the consequences will be obvious when the pinata is opened.


hmmm I'm sure Iwill think of more














 
Leah Sattler
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how about a treasure hunt?
 
Kelda Miller
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nice! I'm loving the ideas!

that soil one especially could be beefed up to be even more educational. maybe also a bit where you try to incorporate water into the soil, and if it's all dry and no organic matter, it just doesn't absorb it, but runs off.

come to think of it maybe the whole soil curriculum could be small little demos that people rotate through. there could be a pH station, a clay/loam/sand station, water holding/repelling station, a too dry/too wet/ ready to work station, (similar but not quite to a 'underwatered, overwatered, just right' station, or would that be with water?) an organic matter (or lack thereof) station, a mulch station, a mycorhizae station, and round it off with stages of a good finished compost. Not quite a game, but interactive enough to get people going.

Egads though! Tons of prep!
 
Leah Sattler
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That is alot of prep!!! don't burn yourself out. I don't know exactly what your focus is but explaining how natural selection changes species can be done with multi colored marbles labeled as "genes"  everyone gets to pick x amount of marbles/genes from a mixed sack (very diverse population). then you arbitrarily tell people to remove a "gene" from their genetic makeup (just as a trait could be "removed" due to its incumbrance, for example pretend they are all moths, volcanic ash covers the area and all the white moths are chomped by birds on and all the gray moths survive ) everbody dumps them all together and picks again. Pretty soon you will be getting people that have all red/blue/green whatever marbles. It could be made even more complex and therefore more realistic if you used dice instead and put a sticker over different "genes" (numbers) when one dice is full they get a new one. evryone has to trade a di to the person on their right or pool them and pickk agoin. Everyone rolls the dice to see what their "species looks like" every so often. you could get really complex and actually assign traits to the numbers.
 
Kelda Miller
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The gene one sounds like a great game for a seed-saving weekend workshop or something. (Don't I wish there was more of those!).

The focus my co-teacher and I are aiming for is to teach a lot of permie basics using interactive games instead of by lectures. More fun for everyone, and, we feel, the students learn it better.

Here's another one from last weekend: hedgerow 'red rover'. I admit I was skeptical at first thinking, 'what the heck does this teach us?? Humans aren't like trees!' But the interactiveness was fun enough just in breaking up classroom time.

And we could actually be learning something by opening the game by demo-ing different agroforestry setups.
'Stand in a hedgerow' (people hussle around till they get in a good pattern for it)
a shelterbelt
a forest edge
an alley crop
selective harvest
etc.
It would be fun to think of more examples.

To add to that, maybe once in place people have to name their species/type of tree they represent.

The advanced game would be if one person started off 'alder' and everyone else had to be a tree/shrub that would grow in the same conditions as alder. Fancy!
So that's another good game.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Hey Kelda, I just happened on this thread and wondered if you'd heard of this game: Wildcraft. I've been checking out the Learning Herbs website and was wondering if this game is very fun or not. It might not be exactly permie, and it's not as cool as the DIY games discussed here, but just a thought or an idea for down the road..
 
paul wheaton
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I thought it sounded really cool.  I sent an email asking if they wanted to do some sort of promotion like thing here.

 
paul wheaton
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Bought the game and tried it out.  Me, Jocelyn and Albert. 

Pretty cool.  Albert added some rules to beef it up a bit. 

I think it would be good to play the game with somebody that really knows this stuff. 

I also thought it might be good to add notes to the plant cards - but some of the plant cards are duplicated. 

I'm thinking that next time it might be good to have a field guide handy to look up how the plant can help with the problem at hand.
 
Erica Wisner
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Kelda O. wrote:
I'm co-teaching a permaculture course this fall, and the other teacher and I really like using games while we 'teach'. The students love it also, (as evidenced in 'best of yesterday' info...).

I've been trying to think of some good ecology games for our topic next weekend. I like a 'cougar-deer' Mother May I, but am trying to think of something that incorporates plants too. As I'm brainstorming about it I thought I'd ask others. Ecology is such a big topic, applied to things like agroforestry and forest gardens.

Any teachers have good games for that one?


There are some great outdoor games in "Coyote's Guide" (Jon Young has been promoting it from Regenerative Design Institute / Wilderness Awareness School).
Some of the ones we used that worked really well with kids, and could work with adults:

- "Story of the Day":
recap learning at the end of the day, using an activity that engages different senses.
- draw a map of where you went / worked, or of the patterns you learned to recognize
- have a guessing game, where individuals and groups play charades or make a tableau and other guess what it represents.  My favorite was a student with a red sweatshirt being the "tail" for a red-tailed hawk, with another couple students being the body and wings.
- Have a time to look up any unanswered questions in wildlife books, online, etc. and share the answers. 
- Make a 'spirit plate' or tableau at the end of the day, with tokens of insights or memorable learning experiences.  Have each students be responsible for collecting at least one token during the day and explaining its meaning as they add it to the tableau.

Sit Spot / Observation
- Have participants go into the woods/garden/find a quiet place for a fixed amount of time, each day.  Sit still and observe.  They can go with a question in mind, or just practice breathing.  Allow journalling sometimes, but not always.
- For kids / more playful adults, you can play "eagle eye" or 'camoflage.'  Have one person stand in the 'nest' and count to 30, while others hide in plain sight.  They must be able to see the 'eagle' from their hiding spot, but try not to be seen.  The eagle names people as s/he sees them, by name or description.  If there are a number who can't be found, then eagle closes his eyes again and says, "Ten steps forward! 10,9,8..." 
- 'Sardines' is similar - one person hides, then everyone looks, and as they find the person they crowd into the same hiding place, in physical contact like a can of sardines.  The last person to find them hides next time.

Treasure Trails:
Finding things by smell can be very memorable.  You can shake-n-bake essential oils and wood chips, or use the herb garden, to mark scent-trails for a 'scavenger hunt' or 'buried treasure.'


From Cob Cottage Company:
Barefoot, Silent, 'Nature' Walk:
If you have the availability of a nice undisturbed ecology and an ajacent clear-cut or degraded lot, a nature walk with the option of going barefoot can be very visceral.  Silent walk, show different secrets without words, like crushing a leaf to smell, or feeling the textures of clay, duff, punk logs, dewberry spines, thistledown.  Have the line of students non-verbally pass these examples on; and have a second instructor some ways down the line as a 'booster' to adjust the quality of the experience.  The difference in texture, smell, and biodiversity should make its own point.
You could do something similar with an established permie garden and a couple of ajacent yards.  Get people really observing rather than just thinking about the concepts.

Caveman Lectures:
My husband and his friend once presented an entire lesson on foundations and drainage using only caveman grunts instead of words.  I've done that on masonry or digging demos, and it's very effective if you're in a lecture/questions rut.  Gets people out of their heads and observing with hands, eyes, bodies.  And laughing.

From OMSI / the JASON Project
Square Yard Transects: 
You can also do a explicit biodiversity survey, where you set out a square yard (or use equal-sized hula hoops) and count the number of different recognizable species in the sample areas.  Maybe also measure topsoil depth or soil qualities, to bring home the point.

Crumple Your Own Watershed:
Crumple a piece of paper into a 'mountain' or a series of ridges and valleys, have participants draw where they think the rivers, lakes, streams, etc. should go, and place some features like a dairy barn, houses, roads, gardens, cities, etc.  Then squirt the page with a spray bottle and see if the water flows as predicted.  You can see the 'runoff' from the buildings, too. 

Other  multi-sensory learning options:

Dance The Plants:
Just acting out the names or roles is huge.  Maybe learn the ASL for the different plants, or basic roles like tree, bush, bean, flower.  Or assign each student to be the 'keeper' of a particular quality - nitrogen fixing, minerals, taproots, disease resistance, beneficial insects, bird habitat, people food, livestock food, etc.  Then you could have a  'pop quiz' or performance where people dance/gesture the roles as you name the species.

Zone Games:
There are board games that illustrate the 'zones' principle.  Anything that's a race to accumulate resources, where you get to place the resources in the first place. 

Handicrafts / Puzzles:
Many handicrafts also teach you better body mechanics, so maybe making something like Ivy Baskets or dreamcatchers with tokens from prior learnings?

Teamwork:
There are complicated games that most people know, where you need cooperation between different roles to succeed.  Maybe soccer, tag football, capture the flag, or ultimate frisbee, where participants are trying to get each other's 'energy' but cooperation is encouraged.

Resource Dominoes:
You can do a variant on the barter game, where people are dealt a variety of different resource 'cards' and have to assemble their basic needs.  Set up cards for different ecological roles, and offering cards, and see if they can play 'human dominoes' to get all the things they need lined up next to them.

Singing.  the good songs.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 21357
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
 
Vera Lothian
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Location: Wiltshire UK
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I was going to suggest wildcraft too
 
paul wheaton
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Robert Smith
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Location: Winnetka (West SF Valley, Los Angeles), Zone 10b
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This is a new ecology game from my friend Nick

http://seedsthegame.com/
 
Karl Treen
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Wow, this thread goes way back!  Surprised I didn't notice it before!  Anyhow, for those who missed it, I have recently launched the Food Forest card game, which fills a niche for people educating about companion planting, regenerative agriculture and Permaculture.  Check it out at www.FoodForestCardGame.com

Cheers,
Karl
 
2017 Permaculture Design Course at Wheaton Labs
http://richsoil.com/pdc
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