Experience how human impacts Alberta's food chain and species at risk


Teach about food chains and how food chains can be unbalanced when there is human impact. Examine species at risk, like the burrowing owl, in Canada.




Social Studies

Example of a food chain - owl, grasshoppers, grass


Critical Thinking

Problem Solving


50 popsicle sticks( 25 red & 25 green)


20 minutes


Part 1

In this game, some of you will be burrowing owls (species at risk in Canada) some of you will be grasshoppers….

  • All grasshoppers need to go out and eat as much grass as they can when I say go, this means grasshoppers must get as much grass (popsicle sticks) as they can. Grasshoppers will get a head start on the owls.

  • RELEASE THE OWLS! Owls (usually adults) get to tag grasshoppers. You can have grasshoppers give up one popsicle stick after being tagged. 

  • If grasshoppers have no more popsicle sticks then they sit out.

Part 2

  • Add a bunch of red (poisonous) popsicle sticks into the game. 

  • Once grasshoppers and owls have picked up some red popsicle sticks, yell FREEZE. 

  • Have grasshoppers check if they have a poisonous piece of grass. If yes, they act out a dramatic death. Those with the red sticks are immediately OUT because the red popsicle sticks are grass sprayed with pesticides

  • How would that affect our burrowing owls?

  • What is happening to our burrowing owls in Alberta? They are a species at risk… at risk of disappearing!  What happens if they eat grasshoppers that have eaten pesticides? 

  • Burrowing owls will also be poisoned!

  • Burrowing owls: Check if they have a poisonous piece of grass. If yes, they act out a dramatic death

These are just some examples of how everything is connected, and if creatures are unable to meet their basic 4 needs, then we lose them from the ecosystem and the food chain that they are a part of becomes unbalanced.

Part 3

  • How can we get burrowing owls back in the game?

  • What is one action we can take to bring back the owls? 
    • Example answers
      •  Don’t use as many pesticides. What can we use instead?
      • How can we protect the burrowing owls’ homes?
      • How else can we help our burrowing owls?

  • Replay one last round after bringing back the owls… end on a positive note!