Ecosystem Musical Chairs

This lesson combines a popular childhood game (Musical Chairs) with a thought-provoking concept of how human actions can lead to the destruction of an ecosystem.


To see how living things can be connected in an ecosystem



30 minutes


This variation of the familiar game shows kids how the living things in an ecosystem can be connected to each other. Prior to the game, compose a story that describes the destruction of an ecosystem in your country and the chain reaction it sets off among the living things that live there. See the Story from Peace Corps/Jamaica, written by Danielle Pittner and Lynsey Sammons to illustrate. 

Set up chairs in a large circle and label each, using a piece of paper taped to it, as a character from the story. Choose an appropriate fast-paced song to play while the children dance around the circle of chairs. Make sure the music can be heard over the noise of participants. 

Have each kid stand in front of a chair. Explain that there is an important lesson in today’s game and that they should pay very close attention to the story that will be read between each round. Tell them that every time the music plays, they must get up and dance around the circle until the music stops, at which point they must each find a chair to sit on. There will be one less chair than the number of students present in any given round. If your story has an introduction, read it to the kids before starting the music. Now play music for any length of time you choose, then stop and read the first stanza of the story, which will remove one character from the ecosystem. Remove the chair of that character; the kid sitting in that chair must now exit the game. Proceed with playing music, stopping, reading the story lines, and removing a chair after each round. The kid left without a chair at the end of each round is out and must sit outside the circle. Move the chairs into a tighter circle as necessary. Of course, the last kid with a chair is the winner.

This lesson plan is an activity from the Environmental Activities for Youth Clubs and Camps, a resource developed by the Peace Corps Office of Overseas Programming and Training (OPATS). It was contributed by Peace Corps/Jamaica.

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