The idea behind this game is to simulate sheep and wolf behaviors. Sheep are herbivores and often move to valleys or lower hillsides to forage or get water. Ewes and lambs are always together in a group whereas rams are often near or in their own groups. When sheep are attacked by wolves, they almost always run for the highest point on a mountain side to view predators chase. Wolves will go pretty high on a ridge but can’t get to the steeper cliffs that sheep can. Wolves often hunt in packs. Begin the activity with the rams, ewes, and lambs grazing peacefully and the wolves out of sight of the herd.
Ewes: As soon as grazing begins, the ewes should choose a lead ewe to watch for predators. The ewes can pick a secret signal to communicate to the rest of the herd that predators are approaching. When predators are near, all the ewes gather their lambs and they sprint to the mountain “safety” zone with the lambs. The main goal of the ewes are to protect the lambs from the wolves. Ewes can also face off a wolf by blocking the wolf from reaching the lamb but cannot touch the wolf with their hands or feet. Ewes that have lost their lambs can must run to the mountain for safety.
Lambs: Lambs are totally dependent on the ewes. Each lamb is to hold onto a ewe with both hands and only follow the ewe’s lead. Lambs cannot influence the ewe’s movement. Lambs have fallen prey to wolves when their “flag” is removed from their pocket. Once a lamb has “died”, they can move off to one side but be able to watch the remainder of the activity. If the lamb and ewe make it to the mountain, they stay there until the round is completed.
Rams: Rams should also pick their own signal for approaching predators. Since Rams are often in separate groups they shouldn’t be with the ewes and lambs during the beginning. Rams behave in several ways when predators appear. They can group together, put their heads down and face wolves or they group up with the ewes and lambs and head towards higher ground. The main idea for the rams is to distract and/or divert the wolves from the lambs and ewe groups. Rams have successfully diverted a wolf when they get their “flag” from the back-pocket. When a wolf gets diverted they are dropped from the pack and step off to the side, but able to watch the remainder of the activity. Once a ram has reached the mountain, they are also safe but can not assist other ewes and lambs.
Wolves: Wolves begin the activity out of sight of the herd. They try to get as close to as possible without being detected. Wolves typically work as a unit, so they can attempt surprising the herd in order to kill a lamb or injured sheep. The wolves can move in any direction, any time but can’t climb steep mountains. They can use any maneuver (except pushing or shoving) to get to the lamb. A lamb is killed when the wolf removes the “flag”. A wolf is out of the activity if a ram removes its “flag”.
Playing the Game
Each round represents one year. A round is over when one of the following happens:
All the wolves are killed.
All the lambs are killed.
All the remaining sheep are on the mountain.
The most common outcome of each round is that a few lambs have been killed and the remaining sheep make it up to the safety zone because the wolves stopped to eat the sheep they killed.
At the end of the round (year), tally the number of surviving rams, ewes, and lambs. Sheep that were killed will become wolves and wolves that were killed become lambs in the next round. Continue the activity for five or more "years."
When the activity is over, have the students discuss what happened in terms of animal adaptations, predator/prey relationships, and the wolf and sheep behaviors. Ask questions such as: What would happen if the rams successfully diverted the wolves? What would happen if the wolves were always successful in their hunt?
Have the students graph the number of sheep that survived year to year.
This game can be enhanced by adding tokens or small cubes as forage for the sheep. The area can be divided into the four seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter. Spread the tokens or cubes around the room in all the seasons. Start the activity in spring. When you call out the name of the season, the sheep move to that range. The sheep will be feeding on the cubes or tokens (picking up as many as they can) while watching out for the wolves. For a sheep to survive a year, they must have collected at least five tokens, and in more than one season.
Have students find pictures of other Alaska animals and discuss whether camouflage is part of the animals adaptation or not. Give the student’s different pictures of habitat from around the world. Have the student’s draw or describe the type of animals that might live in that habitat based on what they know about animal adaptations. How do the animals adapt for different seasons?
Hoofin' It! - What Do You Know?
(Understanding taxonomy; k - 12th grade)
Hoofin' It! - Vertebrate Grab Game
(Exploring types of vertebrates; 3rd - 6th grade)
Hoofin' It! Vertebrate Mysteries
(A vertebrate matching game; 8th - 12th grade)
Hoofin' It! Special Parts
(Animal adaptations; k - 12th grade)
Hoofin' It! Hard to See?
(Camoflague; k - 8th grade)
Hoofin' It! - Sheep Maneuvers
(A predator-prey game; k - 12th grade)
Hoofin' It - Year of the Sheep
(Life cycle of a Dall sheep; 3rd - 12th grade)
Hoofin' It! - Who's Got My Habitat?
(Habitat and wildlife populations; 3rd - 12th grade)
Hoofin' It! - Habitat Grid
(Exploring wildlife habitat; k - 3rd grade)
Hoofin' It! - Through the Seasons
(A game looking at seasonal impacts on wildlife; 2nd - 11th grade)
Hoofin' It! - Population Art
(Intro to counting wildlife populations; k - 2nd grade
Hoofin' It! - Population Calculation
(Graphing and analyzing sheep population data; 6th - 10th grade)
Hoofin' It! - Scavenger Hunt
(A game connecting students to wildlife; k - 6th grade)
Hoofin' It! - Field Sampling
(How scientists count wildlife populations; k - 12th grade)
Hoofin' It! The Bean Counters: Mark-Recapture
(Learning to use the mark-recapture method for population surveys; 5th - 12th grade)