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Sound Off!

Pretend to be animals that communicate by sound and try to find secret partners before being "captured" by a "predator." After this game, participants listen to real animals.

Group Size: This activity requires a minimum of ten players and works even better with fifteen to thirty players. We recommend one leader and an assistant for groups of twenty or more.

Suggested Age: 10 and up

Time: Plan on thirty to forty minutes to play three or four rounds of the game.

Site: Choose a large open site (about 40m x 40m) that is free of holes, ruts, or obstacles. Grass or asphalt covered playfields are excellent sites. The site should be in a fairly quite area so the youngsters can hear the noisemakers.

Safety: No specific considerations.

For each youngster: 1 mask (a brown paper bag large enough to fit over the head), 1 noisemaker.
For the group: scissors, several index cards, 1 pencil, 1 box for carrying the noisemakers, crayons.

Focus questions:
Can you find your partner before a predator captures you? How do animals with poor sight or that are active primarily at night use sound to communicate?

Learning outcomes:
  • Predator: an animal that captures and eats other animals.
  • Prey: an animal that predators eat.
  • Many animals, especially those with poor vision are active only at night, communicate by using sound.
  • The sounds have different purposes including attracting a mate, indicating location, and warning others.
  • Disclosing one’s location with sound also lets predators know where the prey is.

In this game, all the participants have a sack over their heads with ear holes cut out to simulate animals with poor vision or animals that are active at night and must depend only on sound to navigate and communicate. Pairs of kids are given identical noise-makers that are unique to them. The objective is for them to find each other before they are tagged by a predator. There are several variations of the game that can simulate different situations. The kids then listen for actual animal sounds in the area.

Extension Activities:
1. Go to a forest, field, or pond on a warm evening and listen to animal sounds. Try to locate the animals that are making the sounds. If you hold a flashlight at eye level, you can often locate animals whose eyes reflect the flashlight beam. If two people with flashlights stand about three to five metes apart and point their flashlight beams in the direction a sound is coming from, they will usually find the animal near the point where the two flashlight beams cross.
2. Record the sounds that different animals make. Play the sounds back to the animals that made them. How do the animals react to the recorded sounds?
3. Try to mimic a call or animal sound to see if you get a response. For example, when you hear a croaking frog or a hooting owl, try “ribbetting” or “hooting” back.



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