Oh, Deer! (and variations!)
Divide the girls into two groups, the Deer and the Necessities of life (water, food and shelter). There should be about twice as many Necessities as there are deer.
Have the girls away from each other and with their backs turned to each other. The Necessities then decide if they wish to be food, water or shelter. The deer decide which of the three things they need. If a girl is food, she puts her hands on her belly. If a girl is water, she places her hands on her mouth. If a girl is shelter, she puts her hands on her head. The Deer, while facing away from the Necessities also does the matching action for the necessity that she has decided she needs this turn.
The girls turn toward each other and walk together to mingle. They are trying to find a match to themselves. If a Deer can find a match, the Necessity becomes a deer. If a Deer cannot find a match, she dies and becomes a Necessity.
The new groups repeat what they have just done changing, if they wish, what they are or need.
Do this enough times that a pattern emerges. The system should stabilize. Discuss what has happened and the balance of nature. Take some time here. Some of our girls were upset because they kept dying. Explain that this is the way nature works.
BethThe 2 groups are the deer and the habitat. "Mingling" is a polite word for what happens after the girls turn around to face each other! Basically our kids run full tilt, trying to find their matches. If a deer picks water, for example, she has to find water and she can't share that water with another deer -- she has to find her own water.
Patriots Trail Girl Scout Council
When we first teach the game we have someone counting the deer population at the end of each turn and graphing it. That makes for a nice discussion about the life cycle. After that they can play and graph results or just play for fun. They understand that there is a cycle and if they die they will soon be reborn.
The game posted by Sheryl above is "Oh, Deer!" and is documented (along with many other nature activities) in Project Wild. You can also 'make a chart'; recording the numbers of deer and available resources--so that the girls might better visualize the interrelationships between the deer population and available resources.
Junior Troop #966
Illinois Crossroads Council
Des Plaines, IL USA
We also play this game with our girls - they love it! We don't refer it as dying, it's nature's way of recycling. It's like the "circle of life" in the movie Lion King. When something dies it eventually becomes part of the soil, which becomes........
Anyway, we have also put a twist on the game, and at times we will tell the non-deer side that: "there has been a fire in the forest and there is no shelter available" or "there was a drought this year, and there is no water". This was a great way for the girls to see how things like this can have a major impact on nature. It's fun to see the faces of the deers when they realize what they "need" is not available.
We played this game at our county camporee in May. The game was conducted by a leader who had taken the Project Wild training. Because we had a large enough group, we were able to take it to the next levels by adding 2 cougars ( a natural predator of the deer to keep the balance) and then adding hunters when both the cougar and deer population rose too high. I like the idea of adding the additional information eg. forest fire destroys habitat, etc.
Leader Junior Troop 600
Pines of Carolina GSC