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Educational Programs - 2nd Grade: Animals


  1. To introduce students to the signs which indicate the presence of animals in the preserve.
  2. To introduce students to predator and prey interactions and the role of camouflage in protecting prey.


  • Animal Signs
  • Predator and Prey Interactions
  • Camouflage
  • Mystery Critters
  • Warning Call (optional)

Key concepts that students should know:

  • Camouflage: an animal that is camouflaged can blend into its background and hide from a predator.
  • Predator: an animal that hunts other animals for food.
  • Prey: an animal that becomes food for a predator.

Five Trail Rules of Conduct:

  1. Walk quietly.
  2. Stay on the trails.
  3. Stay behind the leader and listen carefully.
  4. Do not pick anything connected to the ground.
  5. Do not chew gum because it can hurt animals if they eat it.

Second Grade Post-visit Activities

Following your visit to the Calvin College Ecosystem Preserve, you may want to try some of the activities listed below.

Animal Signs in the School Yard

Take your students on a tour of the school yard. Look for signs that animals have been there. There may be nests or holes in trees or the ground. Look for feathers or fur. Listen for the sounds of birds or other animals. Look for scratch marks on wood or in the ground. See if there are any animal tracks especially in muddy areas. Watch for animals flying over, running, or crawling. Talk about why animals might not be in the area during the day. When do the students think that animals might be most active in your school yard?

Oh Deer! Game

This activity is taken from Project Wild, pages 146-149. In this game the students will become deer or some of the habitat components the deer need. Ask the students to count off in fours. All of the ones will be the deer. These students will need to look for food, water, shelter, and space. When a deer is looking for food, it should put its hands on its stomach. When it is looking for water, it should put its hands over its mouth. When it is looking for shelter, it should hold its hands together over its head. The deer will choose one of these components to look for during each round. It will not change what it is looking for until after the round is over. The twos, threes, and fours will be food, water, and shelter. Each student has to choose one of these four components for each round. They show what they are in the same way that the deer do. At the beginning of the round, all of the deer are one side of the room or the playground. All of the habitat components are on the other side. Everyone has their back to the students in the other line. Begin the round and have the students turn around with their hands in position. When deer see the habitat component they need, they run to it and take it back with them to the deer side of the line. This represents a successful meeting of its needs. Any deer that fails to find its food, water, or shelter dies and becomes part of the habitat. Try several rounds and then discuss what happened in each round. Talk about what animals need to survive and what are some of the "limiting factors" to their survival. For a variation, you can introduce a predator, such as a wolf, that can only tag the deer when they are between their habitat and deer lines. Once a deer is tagged, the wolf takes it back to its den. The "eaten" deer then becomes another predator. Predators that do not tag a deer die and become habitat.


This will only work if you have a wooded area in your school yard. This game is adapted from a Joseph Cornell game of the same name in his book, Sharing Nature with Children. Choose one person to be the predator, perhaps a hawk. That person has to close his or her eyes and count to 20 while the others hide themselves in the woods. The hiders, or prey, have to be visible from at least one point where the predator is standing. The prey have to stand or sit very still to not draw attention to themselves. After counting, the predator opens his or her eyes to look for the prey. The predator points out or describes the people he or she sees. The predator can only take one step either way of the point where he or she is standing. Give several students the opportunity to be a predator. As a class, discuss what factors made it harder or easier to be seen or remain hidden. Colors play a big role in camouflage. Some colors blend in to the forest while others stand out.