Scram or Freeze

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In this outdoor activity and animal-role-play game, learners discover and uncover the hidden world of "cryptozoa"—organisms such as spiders, salamanders and slugs that live under objects, like rocks and fallen tree trunks, or in concealed places. When uncovered, some cryptozoa scurry for cover ("scram"), while others remain motionless ("freeze"). Both behaviors help uncovered organisms escape from predators. In the game, learners take the roles of predator or prey and get to scram and freeze, and even growl, until all the prey are caught or reach "shelter." Learners also conduct a cryptozoa survey, by carefully upturning pieces of wood, leaves and rock to find and collect hidden animals. At the end, learners return all organisms to their original positions. The PDF includes safety precautions to protect both learners and the animals they uncover. To adapt the game for hearing impaired learners, instruction signs reading "scram" and "freeze" could be used instead of verbal instructions.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Field Trip, Game, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Simulation


Materials List (per group of students)

  • plastic zip-lock bags
  • plastic or paper cups
  • 2 four-meter lengths of bright colored yarn
  • 2 large containers
  • bug boxes or magnifiers
  • marking pen
  • half-gallon milk carton
  • animal field guides (optional)


  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Animals
    • Ecology
      • Ecosystems
      • Populations
    • Evolution
      • Mechanisms of Evolution
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Asking Questions
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Animals
  • Games
  • Nature and Environment
  • Outdoor Activity
  • Physical Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • hear
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

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


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, The Regents of the University of California, 1981