The Greenbelt Game

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Students together will create a fully-assembled “Greenbelt”.

The Greenbelt Game

• Deck of playing cards
• Hula-hoops
• Whistle (Optional)

Print & Copy:
Animal Fact Cards (One per student)
• The Greenbelt Game: Narrative (One for teacher)
• The Greenbelt Game: Threats (One for teacher, printed and cut out to draw from a hat)
• The Greenbelt Game: Poster (Take Action!) (One printed and posted for all to see)


  1. Find a space large enough to allow the whole class to stand together on a fully-assembled “Greenbelt”.
  2. Arrange hula-hoops in this space, making interesting patches and corridors.
  3. Shuffle the deck of playing cards and place it in on a table nearby.
  4. Display The Greenbelt Game: Poster
  5. Pass out an “Animal Fact Card” to each student. Ask them to read it and to remember their animal.


  1. Read the Game Rules aloud.
  2. Set a timer for 15 minutes (adjust for your group).
  3. Read the Narrative to start the game. Play the game as directed, pulling THREATS and removing hula-hoops as it progresses. Direct students to the deck of cards as they are “out”.

Discussion Questions

Choose one or several of the questions below.


  • What happened when some sections of the Greenbelt became crowded? Why do habitats have limits to the number of plants and animals that they can support?
  • What happened when the Greenbelt became fragmented?
  • Was there ever a time when the class had so many ACTIONs that you could cancel out a lot of THREATs whenever they came up? Give an example of how this can happen in the real world.
  • In the real world, what threats would be the easiest to cancel?
  • Sometimes we collected a lot of ACTIONs in one suit but not another, so they weren’t useful in the circumstance. Give an example of how this can happen in the real world. How do you know what actions are actually useful?
  • At the beginning of the game, everyone could reach the Greenbelt and no one was out. But later it was harder. In the real world we can ignore problems for a long time thinking it’s ok. How do you show people problems before they get too bad?


  • When do you think we should allow exceptions to the Greenbelt guidelines?
  • What can you do in your home or yard to make a habitat for a(n) insect, fish, mammal, bird, reptile, or amphibian?
  • What actions can you take as a class to teach parents and guardians about the importance of keeping our Greenbelt promise?
  • What do you predict would happen if the Greenbelt rules were removed?
  • What do you predict would happen to animals if the Greenbelt is separated into spaces that no longer connect to each other (e.g. fragmented)?


  • In a word, how would you describe the impact of humans on animal habitats?
  • How would you compare a full, connected Greenbelt to a fragmented Greenbelt?


  • How does biodiversity in communities make them more resilient to environmental issues?
  • What are some actions you can take to help biodiversity in the Greenbelt thrive?
  • How does climate change reduce or impact biodiversity?
  • What are the consequences of diminishing biodiversity in the Greenbelt?


  • How do human activities impact the ability of [insects, fish, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians] to survive? Give examples.
  • What are some examples of how the Greenbelt provides the necessities of life for insects, fish, mammals, birds, reptiles, or amphibians? How does the Greenbelt provide the necessities of life for humans?

Teacher Tips

  • Sometimes, at the start of the game, you may find that you have collected several black suits before any red ones appear. Keep drawing cards as students move around the Greenbelt. Eventually, red suits will appear and you will cancel them out with your ACTIONs.
  • For a while, the Greenbelt may stay intact. Then, at some point you will have to remove a section of the Greenbelt. It’s more interesting if you choose a section that will cause fragmentation. You may find that students will happily move to the rest of the Greenbelt because there is adequate space. It’s not until the end that students will be crowded on the remaining pieces, and eventually they will not be able to reach the remaining Greenbelt. This demonstrates how “things seem fine” for quite a long time before we see negative consequences impacting the environment.
  • Avoid the temptation to stack the deck and make it work out in a certain way. The randomness of the activity will add to the intrigue, and to the power of what happens in the end, good or bad. Depending on your class, talk with them about how the timing of many threats do seem random, but that in the real world we can plan and coordinate our actions.
  • To adapt for other regions of Canada, research the location of a greenbelt or protected corridors near you. For example, Montreal and Ottawa have greenbelts. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have designated a narrow strip of land to help conserve the endangered population of the mainland moose. The Yukon has a linear protected area that connects to Yellowstone National Park. Ask some volunteers to create THREAT cards for the species in that habitat.
  • To adapt the game for the needs of your group, consider scaffolding using whole-class discussions and simplifying the language and complexity. Very young children can play the game without having to read by removing the Animal Fact Cards.

Follow-up: Write a Persuasive Letter

  1. Use the following discussion prompts to help generate ideas for a persuasive letter:
    • Why do you think you should write a letter about this?
    • Who would be the best person to read this letter?
    • Tell me about a time you were in the Greenbelt.
    • What actions can help keep the Greenbelt healthy?
    • What do you know about this topic that would help convince someone to listen?
    • How do you feel about this topic?
    • How do you think your friend feels about this topic?
    • How can you convey your feelings to your audience?
  2. Choose a letter planner to plan and write persuasive letters.


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