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Goal: Students will recall the definitions newly-learned words regarding animals.

Grade Levels: 4th grade and above

This fawn is a cervid, a mammal, an herbivore, a prey species, a crepuscular animal, etc.

1. Students will correctly pronounce terms that describe different species of animals.
2. Students will accurately interpret the meanings of vocabulary words referring to animal species.


  • a large indoor or outdoor space to run
  • boundary markers that clearly define starting and ending “safe zones”
  • a list of vocabulary terms referring to animals
  • optional props: hoola hoops to serve as “safe zones” in the tagging area.

When studying animals in science class, students will often hear terms referring to different species.  This activity will help them pronounce and recall the definitions of many of these terms.


Step 1:
Ask all but one of the children in a group to line up along a starting position. The starting position could be along a gym room wall, or behind two cones.

Step 2:
Ask all your children to think of an animal species. It has to be a real animal that is not extinct. The game is called bird catcher, but they don’t have to be birds. Tell them to keep their animal in their mind but do not say it aloud. They cannot switch their animal once the game has begun.

Step 3:
The one child who is not in line is the “birdcatcher.” The birdcatcher stands in the middle of the field or gymnasium and will call out different questions one at a time.
Ex: Are you a predator? Are you a domestic animal?

Step 4:
If a child can answer “yes” to the question, they must run from the starting position to the safe zone on the other side of the field. If a child answers “no” to a question, they just stay where they are and wait for the next question.  Conversely, once the reach the safe zone on the opposite side, they will need to run back to the starting position safe zone if they answer “yes” to any other questions.
The birdcatcher is going to try to tag any students who answer “yes” to the question while they are running to the safe zone.

Step 5:
Any child who is tagged becomes a birdcatcher too. 

To make the game harder for the birdcatcher(s) – you can put out a few old hula hoops to be “bushes”. If an animal is in a bush, the birdcatcher can’t tag him or her.

Step 6:
The game goes on until there are more birdcatchers than animals – or you can play until the last animal is tagged!

Possible questions that refer to vocabulary:
Are you a….
…prey animal?
…domestic animal?
…nocturnal animal?
…diurnal animal?
…crepuscular animal?
…pelagic animal?
…keystone species?
…endangered species?

After the game, sit down in a cool area, ideally in a circle. If it’s hot outside, have water available. Ask for volunteers to disclose what species they were and one word that described their species.

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