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Bear, Salmon, Mosquito

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Lesson Summary

This is a game, based on Rock, Paper, Scissors, designed for fun, burning off energy, waking-up sleepy brains and introducing the concept of a food chain. Two teams each decide on an animal to represent, then face-off across a line. The “winning” team chases the other team to their safe zone. If they tag a member of the other team, that member joins the “winning” team.

Enduring Understanding:

U1 Learning can be joyful and empowering, and inspire a sense of wonder.

Knowledge and Skills developed:

K1 Students will know that living things need food, water, air.

K3 Students will know that organisms interact in various ways.

K4 Students will know that changes in an organism’s habitat are sometimes beneficial and sometimes harmful.


It’s time to wake up your minds a little bit and think about food chains!

Age group: 8-80 Venue/s: Any open space

Materials: Boundary markers like backpacks

Time: 20 minutes

Set up: Use the kids’ backpacks to create a center line and two end zones.

The core game:

  1. Introduce the characters and have the players go through the motions a couple times to become familiar with them. Raise hands high over the head and make a fierce face and a “roar” for "Bear"; put your hands together and point index fingers out from your nose for “mosquito”; move your hands as if you are flowing through water for "Salmon". Shout out the names as you do the motions. “What does a bear eat?” “Salmon!” “What does a Salmon eat?” “Mosquitoes!” “Who do Mosquitoes bite?” “Bears!”
  2. Once the players are familiar with the hand motions and order, divide the group into two teams and designate a playing field with a line down the middle and an end line on either side -- 30-60 feet from the middle line to each end line.
  3. Each team will then huddle and secretly decide whether they will be Bears, Salmon, or Mosquitoes, and also make an alternate plan in case of a tie the first time.
  4. The two teams then face each other across the center-line. On the count of three, each team does the motion for and shouts out the name of the creature they have chosen. The losing team then turns around and runs for their end line with the winning team in hot pursuit. Any member of the losing team tagged before crossing the end line is considered eaten and becomes a member of the winning team.
  5. The game can be played repeatedly until one team is wiped out, everyone is too tired to continue, or until everyone is on the same team! If the sides become very imbalanced, ask the group what would happen if this were a real ecosystem. What would happen if you had 25 bears and one fish? To rebalance the game and to add a bit of reality, consider adding a rule for a round or two that anybody from the winning side that does NOT find food, ends up on the other side.


How is this game like a real ecosystem? How is it different? Do you think it would feel different if you really got eaten if you got caught, or really went hungry if you didn’t catch any food?

Safety Considerations

As with any running game, check for hazards on the field. Remind people to tag GENTLY.

(see: Salmon Life Cycle)