4-6, Unit Four, Activity 3: "Visual Vocabulary"

Students will interpret and identify ecological concepts through use of pantomime.

Grades: 4 – 6
Time: 1 hour
Subject: Language arts, life science, physical education


  • Vocabulary list with definitions small pieces of paper with vocabulary words printed on them
  • Container.


  1. Give students handouts with words and definitions on them. Discuss and encourage students to give examples of definitions.
  2. List all the words on small pieces of paper and put them in a container.
  3. Divide the class into groups of four. Each group draws one word from the container, looks up the definition using the handout, and decides how to pantomime that word. Allow about five minutes for the groups to prepare their mimes.
  4. Groups of students then take turns miming their word to the class. Set a time limit of one minute per group.
  5. The rest of the class may use the handouts as a guideline for guessing the word being mimed.
  6. Groups gain one point for a successful miming (having their word guessed within the one minute time limit) and one point for guessing another group's mime correctly.
  7. Continue drawing words as time permits, changing groups or having "star mimers" assist students who muddled their mimes.

(15 words at a time seem to be manageable in one classroom period.)

  • Carnivore: a meat eater.
  • Community: all the plants and animals that share a particular environment.
  • Ecosystem: a community of living things interacting with each other and with the physical environment. Major types of ecosystems include aquatic (pond, creek, lake, ocean) and terrestrial (grassland, forest, desert).
  • Environment: the surroundings of a plant or animal including other plants and animals, climate, and location.
  • Food Chain: the transfer of food energy from the source in plants through a series of animals, with repeated eating and being eaten. For example, a pine tree, a red squirrel, and a pine marten would form a simple food chain.
  • Food Web: the interconnection of the food chains in a community. A food web shows how members of the community are connected to other members by what they eat.
  • Habitat: the arrangement of food, water, shelter and space suitable to an organism's needs.
  • Herbivore: a plant eater.
  • Interdependence: when 2 or more living things in nature need one another to survive. Interrelationship: the relationships between plants and plants, plants and animals, and animals and animals.
  • Omnivore: an animal which eats both plants and animals.
  • Predator: an animal which kills and eats other animals.
  • Prey: animals that are killed and eaten by other animals.
  • Shelter: cover; cover from elements, to travel in, for breeding, for bedding, etc.
  • Succession: the orderly, gradual, and continuous replacement of one plant or animal by another.

Variations and Extensions:

  1. Go outside for this activity. The environment is conducive to learning ecological concepts and noise level less a problem.
  2. Define words together in class orally. List words and definitions on chalkboard. This encourages students to think and remember. Leave definitions on board, or erase, challenging the students and encouraging memory retention. Before white men arrived, which of these concepts do you think were familiar to Native Americans? Why? Do some of these words and their meanings straddle the area inside and outside the International Peace Park? How?

Ask students to choose one of the vocabulary words and draw a picture of its meaning.

Last updated: November 8, 2017

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