Here is a game that makes the interdependence of all the biotic and abiotic components of an ecosystem very clear. Children stand in a circle. The leader stands within the circle close to the edge with a ball of string. “Who can name a plant that grows in this area?” …Brodiaea…Good. Here, Miss Brodiaea, you hold the end of the string. Is there an animal living around here that might eat Brodiaea?…Rabbits? Ah, a sumptuous meal. Mr. Rabbit, you take hold of the string here. You are connected to Miss Brodiaea by your dependence on her flowers for your lunch. Now, who needs Mr. Rabbit for his lunch?
Continue connecting the children with string as their relationships to the rest of the group emerge. Bring in new elements and connections such as other animals, soil, water, and so on, until the entire circle of children is strung together in a symbol of the web of life.
To demonstrate how each individual is important to the community, take away one member of the web by some plausible means. For example, a fire or a logger kills a tree. When the tree falls, it tugs on the strings it holds. Anyone who feels a tug on the string is in some way affected by the death of the tree. The process continues until every individual is shown to be affected by the destruction of the tree.
[This activity was developed by Joseph Cornell and featured in “Sharing Nature With Children.” Thanks Joseph.]