Life in a Nutshell

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In this multi-faceted game (on pages 25-35), learners recreate what happens to creatures in the Brazilian rain forest as they grow from egg to adult—especially those that use fallen, empty Brazil nut pods as a home during some part of their life cycle. These creatures include damsel flies, mosquitoes, toads and poison frogs. The object for players is to make it around the game board, grow faster than the competition, and leave the nutshell nursery before the neighbors eat them. Learners graph the results of all games played. This activity makes a fun connection between life science and math.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Game

English, Spanish

Materials List (per group of students)

  • 1 die for each game board
  • scissors
  • pencils
  • tape
  • markers: green, yellow, red and orange
  • copy Chance Cards (p.32) on stiff colored paper
  • cut, fold, and tape Critter Game pieces (p.28)
  • cut out scorecards (p.31)


  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Plants
      • Animals
    • Ecology
      • Ecosystems
      • Biodiversity
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Collection
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Asking Questions

Informal Categories

  • Animals
  • Games


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities

Designed specifically for

  • Rural dweller

Culture, ethnicity, and gender

  • Girls

    • Explicity developed for this group


Foreign language versions of this resource:

Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • Science After School Consumer's Guide


  • , University of Nebraska State Museum, 2001

Funding Sources:

  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute
  • National Science Foundation Informal Science Education Program, 9909496