All animals need a habitat to live in. A habitat is any place where an animal lives and can meet its basic needs. An animal’s basic needs include: food, water, shelter, and space. For the purposes of this activity we will focus on food, water and shelter, but keep in mind that space is also an important component of an animal’s habitat. If an animal does not have access to food, water and shelter all together in a suitable arrangement, it cannot make that space its habitat.
- Oh Deer Card game set (Oh Deer cards, Habitat cards and Deer Chips)
- 2–4 players (dealer optional)
- Each player gets 1 of each habitat card (food, water, shelter) and 5 Deer Chips to start
- Mix the “Oh Deer” cards and place them face down in the center of the playing area
- Set the Deer Chips aside in a pile or in a bag
- Determine the order of play: Players can flip a coin or roll a number cube to determine who goes first, second, third, etc.
- Play: Before each round, every player will select one of their habitat cards (food, water or shelter) and place it face down in front of them. The card that they select will be what their deer will be looking for in that round. Once everyone has selected their habitat card, an “Oh Deer” card should be flipped from the stack for everyone to see. If a player’s habitat card matches the “Oh Deer” card, they get a new Deer Chip. If their habitat card does not match the flipped card, they lose a deer.
- Winning: The game continues for 1 year (12 rounds). Who ever has the most Deer Chips at the end of the year wins!
Simply have one player or an adult select the “Oh Deer” card for each round.
With an adult or educator as the dealer: have the dealer set the deck (without telling the players) so that one of the habitat cards come up multiple times. For example, play four of the same habitat needs in a row and discuss how or why this might happen in nature. Help the players to understand that sometimes there are droughts (no rain for a long time) and there may be no water for the deer to drink during that time. Also, if there is a lack of rain, fewer plants will grow which means there is also less food. Many deer may not survive in this time, which is why their population decreases. Try all water cards and discuss floods and how it might wipe out food to eat and trees for shelter or all food cards, perhaps in the case of humans feeding wildlife. What happens if deer become too numerous? Explain how important it is to have all of these things in a suitable arrangement and in a large enough space for the deer. You may also discuss carrying capacity and how each space may only support a certain amount of deer.