Today I want to share a fun activity my team did to help our sixth graders grasp realities of life as hunters and gatherers.
To do this activity, you will need a large space (a small gym would work great), a bag of candy, squirt bottles filled with water, and the leftover holes from the 3-hole punch. Sounds weird, I know.... trust me.
To begin, students are instructed that our ancestors didn't exactly stand erect as we do today, which meant they had to participate in this activity on all fours. This immediately got students giggling. Also, this is another reason I love sixth graders. They are game for anything. There's no way you could get seventh or eighth graders to crawl around on the floor in front of their peers. haha
At the sound of our whistle, students began to crawl around in search of jolly ranchers teachers were throwing around the room. After about a minute, the whistle blows, signaling that all students must freeze.
Anyone without candy in their hand has failed to hunt & gather food and is now dead from starvation and must go to the perimeter of the classroom (our room had a ramp with a railing, which was perfect for confining our "dead) in an area dubbed "The Cemetery" and can no longer speak.
Once the dead are buried, round two can begin. After all of the candy has been collected, blow the whistle again. This time, any student with RED candy has been poisoned and must drop all candy and go to The Cemetery.
For the third round, students can race to pick up the left-behind candy while the teachers walked around with water bottles, spritzing them at students. This time when the whistle blows, any student who got wet has been killed by a tidal wave and must drop all candy and head to The Cemetery.
In round four, teachers will sprinkle the paper punches into the air as the students crawl around for the abandoned candy. At the sound of the whistle, anyone with "snow" on them has been caught in a deadly blizzard and must abandon their candy and head to The Cemetery.
For the last round, teachers were purposefully throwing candy under the tables in the room, causing students to enter the "shelters" to get more food. When the whistle blows for this last round, any student not under a table is dead.
For our team, this left only four students alive. We discussed how hunters & gatherers needed to be in groups of about 30 for survival and that it would be nearly impossible for only four students to sustain life against all those odds. At this time, all of our cemetery inhabitants told their friends, "You're dead!"
And then we gave our entire group a one-minute free for all where they could scramble for as much candy as possible.
Our students REALLY enjoyed this activity, and have to say that I found it hilarious to watch. Although I will admit that we had to re-visit its purpose after several students reported to me that it was, "To get the most candy." Oh, sixth graders! :)