Food chain game [Free download!]
The cards in the image are in Dutch, but the download is in English!
For my non-Dutch speaking friends this English version! For all the parents that stuggle with teaching/entertaining their kids at home, all the teachers who work incredibly hard to accomodate their students even now, and everyone who likes it: a cardgame to playfully learn about the natural food chain.
Most of us like some of these animals, but dislike others. They all play an important role in the food chain! So find out, with this game.
- 2 (maybe 3?) players
- Takes about 5 minutes (that’s why we usually play it multiple times in a row)
- If children can read it might add an extra dimension, but it’s not necessary as long as they recognize numbers.
I made this game for my 5 year old son. He really likes the animals (even the musquitoes!) and in the meantime, he can practice with numbers. I arrived at this idea because I’m currently translating a course I teach to an online version. This idea seemed like fun, but why restrict it to an online course environment, when so many people could benefit in these challenging times? To develop my idea, I have played it multiple times with my husband, until we had worked out the right set of game rules.
Below you can download the 5 pages with each 6 cards (so 30 in total). Print them on sturdy paper and/or glue nicely collored paper on the backside before you cut them out, so they are longliving and not see-through. I have used a different back for the plant-cards, so they’re easy to recognize!
Playing example (text here is in Dutch, but the download will be in English)
How you play the game:
- Each card has a number: this is the role the organism plays within this food chain.
- The animals eat all the animals with a lower number than they have themselves. For example, a fox (9) can eat an aphid (2), and also a hedgehog (8).
- Plants are a ‘1’. ONLY animals with a ‘2’ can eat them. [I know, I know, a fox will also eat berries sometimes, but it’s a simplified version]
- No animal can eat an animal with the same number.
- The player who won the most plant-cards (stacks of cards; rounds), wins the game when the deck runs out.
- Shuffle the cards.
- (2 players) Start with 3 cards in the hand each, plus a deck (the images should not be visible).
- You can’t play plant-cards; if you draw one, it has to go back into the deck (that’s why having a different back for these is quite useful).
- Optional: shuffle the deck again, so the plant-cards are spread out over the deck.
- Lay a plant-card in the middle (image visible to eveyone).
- One player starts: they place an animal with a ‘2’ (=plant eater) on top of the plant-card (again, image visible to everyone).*
- Second player: places an animal with a higher number on top of the card of the first player (again, image visible to everyone).
- First player does the same, then the second player again, and so on.
- You place your cards, alternating, until one of you can’t go higher (or doesn’t want to give up their card just jet, if they want to save it for later).
- The player who places the animal with the highest number wins this round and gets the stack of cards + plant you just placed. These cards are no longer playable; you place them next to you, because the player with the most stacks wins in the end.
The following rounds:
- You may now both take cards from on top of the deck, alternating, until another plant-card shows up. The winner from the last round may take a card first, then the second player, then the first one again, and so on. This is how you keep filling the cards you hold in your hand.**
- Whoever draws a plant-card, places it image-up in the middle and you start again.
- The player who lost the last round has to place an animal first. This animal has to have a ‘2’.*
- Again, place, alternating between both players, animals with a higher number than the last. The rules are from this point the same as for the first round.
* If a plant-card has been places, but you don’t have a plant-eating animal (2), the other player has to place first. If none of you have an animal with a ‘2’, the plant-card goes back in the deck and you both draw cards from the deck until you find another plant.
** It can occur that there are not enough cards on top of the deck until the next plant-card, to both draw (the same amount). Sorry, that’s part of the game! If you have an empty hand, but the other player can place cards on top of the plant and/or animals, than the other player wins that round.
Download the cards with this link: Food chain card game Iris Veltman
I hope you like it and find it educational. Enjoy!