The animal world is a filled with a rich diversity of traits and characteristics that fascinate children and hold concepts that help us understand ourselves and the world in which we live. Fauna is an animal trivia game that is not so black and white as it rewards player answers that are either correct or close to the correct. This approximation mechanism allows for students to practice estimating as they try to work out the the size, shape and location of hundreds of animals from around the world.
The game is played on a double-sided board, each featuring a map of the world that is broken up into different regions along with measurement charts for height, weight, length, and tail length. Each chart features ranges of measurements for each of the characteristics. The difference between the two sides are the units of measurement used on the charts. One side uses metric measurement while the other features standard U.S. customary units. At the beginning of the round, a new animal card is revealed to the players. Besides the name and a picture of the animal, the card indicates what measurement aspects of the animal are in play.
Each round, players take turns placing cubes down onto the measurement and location areas on the board. Once a cube has been played, no other cubes can be placed in the same spot. After all of the players have passed, the answers are revealed and players score for the cubes they placed on the board. Exact placements score the most points, while placements immediately adjacent to the correct answer score fewer. For example, if an animal is found in the Western Sahara, players could still score points if they had placed in the Mid-Atlantic. While there seem to be more opportunities for scoring, players need to be careful with their placements because if their cubes do not score they are temporarily removed from play, limiting their placement opportunities the following round.
All of this combines to create a tense and exciting game built around animal trivia. And despite being a trivia game, because of the proximity scoring and the measurements being broken into ranges (e.g. 2 to 3 cm), Fauna is very accessible for any student. Each round a new animal is introduced and players try to balance what they know against what the other players seem to know. Beyond helping students learn about animals and where they live, Fauna also serves as an excellent tool for students to learn metric measurement. The non-U.S. customary side forces students to think in metric measurements as they place their cubes. While a challenging task at the start of the game, by the end, students are much more familiar with metric measurement.
Fauna can easily be setup to be used with small groups or players can work together in teams allowing a whole class to play a single game. To make the latter easier, a teacher can easily recreate the board and measurement charts to project for the class to see and allow students to sit together in groups and discuss their placements. Since game end is dictated by reaching set number of points, the game can easily be modified to fit the classroom schedule by using the highest score at the end of the class period. Alternatively, the game can also be spread out over a longer period of time. Because the board is cleared after each round, a class can play a round whenever they have time and keep a running score allowing for a game to run to course of a semester or even the school year. However you use it, Fauna is a great way to help students explore the world of animals.