The Magic Camera

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Using a “magic camera”, students observe the outdoors from two different perspectives: humans and wildlife.

In pairs, one student with their eyes closed, the “camera”, is led to an observation point by another, the “guide”. When the guide taps the camera on the shoulder, the camera “takes a picture” by opening and closing their eyes. The two students talk about the “picture” and then switch roles. Following the game, students think about impact of human-made things on wildlife and brainstorm ways to make sure we take into account the needs of wildlife.

Grade level: K-3

Learning Objectives:
– Recognize that our actions can have an impact on wildlife
– Identify ways to reduce our impact on wildlife

During this activity, students will:
– Observe the schoolyard from different perspectives
– Reflect on how human-made things effect wildlife
– Brainstorm ways to ensure the needs of wildlife are considered

− The book Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld or a Duck/Rabbit image
− Brainstorming material (whiteboard, chart paper, etc.)

Set up

Before beginning:

  • Identify where in the schoolyard your class can carry out the activity and determine the boundaries. If the schoolyard is not a possibility, consider a local park.
  • Decide how to split up the students into pairs.
  • Prepare the book/a read aloud of Duck! Rabbit! or a Duck/Rabbit image.


1. Begin by showing the students the duck/rabbit picture or the cover of Duck! Rabbit!  Ask the students who sees a duck, and then who sees a rabbit. Count the number of each.

If you have the book/a read aloud, go through the story. If not, talk about the two possibilities, making sure that all the students see them.

Ask for their opinion:

  • Is it a duck or a rabbit?
  • Can we know for sure if it is a duck or a rabbit?

2. Explain that, just like depending on how you look at the picture, you can see either a duck or a rabbit, depending on how we look at the world, we see things in different ways, or from different perspectives. Tell them that today you are going to be looking at human-made and natural things from the perspectives of humans and of animals.

Ask the students:

  • What is the difference between something that is human-made and something that is natural?
  • What are some examples of things that are human-made in the schoolyard? (for example the playground equipment, garbage can, or a fence)
  • What are some examples of things that are natural in the schoolyard? (for example, a tree, the grass or flowers)

3. Tell the students that you are going be playing “Magic Camera” in order to look at the schoolyard from different perspectives. Explain the rules of the game:

In pairs, one student will be the “guide” and the other will be the “camera”. The guide’s job is to choose something humanmade for the camera to take a picture of.

The camera will close their eyes and the guide will gently lead them to their desired location. When I say “stop”, everyone must stop moving.

When I say “cheese”, the guide will gently tap the camera’s shoulder for them to open their eyes. Then the guide will tap the camera’s shoulder for them to close them again.

Keeping their eyes closed, the camera will tell the guide what they saw and why it is good for humans. The guide will tell the camera what they wanted the camera to see and why it is good for humans.

Next, when I say “switch”, you will switch roles.

Once both partners have had a turn being the guide and the camera, I will say “switch”. We play again, but this time looking at something natural and why it is good for animals.

4. Take the class outdoors:

  • Separate the class into partners
  • Explain the boundaries of the activity
  • Quickly review the steps of the game
  • Play the game

5. At the end of the game, return to the classroom.

Results and discussion

Once settled in the classroom, discuss the students’ observations. On a whiteboard make two lists:
1. Human-made things
2. Natural things

Remind the students that like with the duck and rabbit, we can look at things from different points of view and that this can help us see how what we do affects more than just ourselves.

Talk about some of the different items on the list. Start with some natural things:

  • Why is this good for animals? Is it good for us too? Why?

For example: Trees are good for animals because they give the birds a place to live. They are good for us because they give us shade so we are cooler in the summer.

Next, talk about some human-made things:

  • Why is this good for us? Why is it not as good for animals? How could we change these things to make them safer for animals?

For example: A garbage can is good for us because it keeps trash off the ground. It is not as good for animals because it doesn’t have a lid and animals can eat people food which will make them sick. We can make it safer by putting a lid on the garbage can.

  • A fence is good for us because it makes sure our balls don’t go into the street. It is not as good for animals because it can block their paths. We can make it safer for animals by making sure they have a way to go home.

Going further:

  1. What do animals need to survive? How can human-made things affect that?
  2. What will happen if we make too many human-made things that are not as good for animals?
  3. Are all human-made things good for people?
  4. What are some things we can do to make the whole city/town/area better for people and animals?
    For example: Bird feeders, less cars, gardens, not cutting down too many trees

Extension Activity:

Have each student draw a picture of a way to make their city/town/area safer for animals. They can write a sentence under it (or dictate a sentence to an adult) to explain why.


Duck! Rabbit! By Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld (2009, Chronicle Books)

These picture books geared towards a younger audience can give them ideas about how to help the planet:

10 Things I can do to help my world by Melanie Walsh (2012, Candlewick).
The Earth Book by Todd Parr (2010, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

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