Food Chains and Food Webs
Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:49 PM
I am looking for any ideas on teaching 4th graders about food chains and food webs. I usually have the students study the food chains from different environments and draw pictures, but I would like to step it up a bit. In the past I have played an adapted sharks and minnows game I call predator and prey and this has been a successful lesson on getting students to understand interdependence and competition for resources. Does anyone know any games for food webs or food chains?
Wed Sep 21, 2011 7:31 PM
Have you done a topic search on the Learning Center? I searched using the key word "food chains" and then filtered for just the elementary school resources. What about these Learning Center resources?
An O-“fish”-ial Research Project
Thu Sep 22, 2011 5:57 PM
I also find it difficult to "step-up" my lessons for food chains. I saw an idea on the Super Teacher website that I'd like to try. Who's At the Top? - Take various old magazines and let the kids cut out pictures of plants and animals. After they have cut out what they think will make a good food chain containing the ( sun, producer, primary consumer, secondary consumer,and decomposer).
The kids glue the pictures to an actual paper chain of different colors. We hang these up in the classroom. It gives new meaning to who is on the top of the food chain. Children seem to understand concepts much better if they can make a concrete model.
Fri Sep 23, 2011 3:03 AM
I'm not sure where you're teaching, but I teach in Hawaii and I attended a workshop a few years back that had a pretty cool game. The lessons that were shared had to do with the ocean, and specifically Hawaii, so some of it might not be applicable to everyone. To be honest, I haven't used it yet (it does require a bit of prep), but I am determined to use it this year. It was a lesson in a curriculum created by NOAA called Navigating Change. The entire curriculum is pretty comprehensive. Some of it is a little difficult, but most things can be adapted to different levels. The game can be found beginning on page 109, it's called Land to Sea Survival Shuffle. The activity found before it called Circle of Life was pretty good. What I liked about the curriculum is that all the materials are provided, you just need to copy, cut, and color (if you want it to look nicer). Hope this helps!
Fri Sep 23, 2011 9:29 PM
I know in 5th grade we made powerpoints for food chain/food web. Maybe developing to hit the fourth grade standards would be a good idea. Have them use their computer/tech time and make it an ongoing project like we did with 5th. :) Just a reminder in case you forgot... we did a slide for producer, consumer and decomposer and they added facts and pictures about each one. The last slide was on how a food chain works.
Fri Sep 23, 2011 10:52 PM
I teach third grade in Hawaii and I am currently working on food chains and producers, consumers, and decomposers. I found a game online through one of the NSTA resources called “Worms: Out of this World.” The game is called Decomposer Tag. One student is “death” and can wear a black bandana or carry a black card. When he tags another student, they “die” and have to freeze. Two or three other students are the “decomposers.” They can wear a yellow bandana or carry a yellow card. Their job is to “recycle” the dead plants and animals by running around them three times. This “unfreezes” the student and allows them to come back into the game. You can divide the class in two and have one group make a circle around the first group of players so that there is a clear boundary of where the students are to run. After about five minutes you can blow a whistle to stop the game and let the students talk about what would happen if the decomposers hadn’t “recycled” all the dead plants and animals lying around. The second group of students can now play and the first group can make the circle boundary. My students really enjoyed this and seemed to get a firsthand look at the importance of decomposers in the food chain. We played this outside to allow for more movement.
After this, my students went back in the classroom and made food chains using index cards. They drew and labeled one living thing per card (five index cards) and taped them to pieces of string in order of the food chain, so it came out looking like a chain. Fourth graders could add some writing to this by describing each level of the food chain.
Sat Sep 24, 2011 12:41 AM
Thank you for sharing all these awesome ideas. I also teach 4th grade and I am about to begin the same unit. Last year I had students choose an animal and use the computer to research and gather as much information as they could on their animal. Then from their facts that they collected they made up a poem and identified whether their animal was a consumer/decomposer or producer. They tried to make their poem rhyme as much as possible and used similes and metaphors. They also typed their poem and drew a picture of their animal using oil pastels. The students loved and learned so much and at the same time, I was able to integrate art, writing, and technology into science. I intend to do the same this year, but I will also try some of the game/interactive activities you shared as my students are very energetic and love to talk!
Fri Sep 30, 2011 3:26 PM
I checked out the Navigating Change units Jason suggested.
The units are lined up to the Hawaii state science benchmarks and include rubrics and student worksheets as well as other black line masters and information sheets.
Here are the units I think I might try:
-Circle of Life
4.3.1 Explain how simple food chains and food webs can be traced back to plants.
5.3.2 Describe the interdependent relationships among producers, consumers, and decomposers in an ecosystem in terms of the cycles of matter.
Students will learn about five groups of plants and animals and the different role each group plays in the coral community (Herbivores, Omnivores, Carnivores, Decomposers/Scavengers)
4.5.2 Describe the roles of various organisms in the same environment.
Students will learn about the coral reef environment.
Good Stuff! Thanks Jason!
Fri Sep 30, 2011 5:27 PM
Thank you all! There were so many good ideas so I am saying a blanket thank you. I am hoping over break to have time to investigate all the different options and be ready to start my unit when we come back.
Fri Sep 30, 2011 5:36 PM
I was just looking at other postings in Life Science. One teacher had created acronyms to help her students remember the characteristics of living things. I think this is a great idea, especially since I have so many ELL's in my class and vocabulary is a big struggle for them. I was also thinking of creating a song for them. Sara, you were always great at finding songs last year. I was looking on the flocabulary website and didn't find anything, but it inspired me to come up with one on my own. If I develop anything decent I will share. I find one of the biggest challenges I face when teaching about the food chains is students knowing the different environments. They don't know the habitats, which animals and plants are present, and what resources are available or unavailable. This year I plen to take the time to teach different habitats before food chains.
Fri Sep 30, 2011 10:18 PM
I played the whale jenga game with 4th and 5th graders with success. For a more detailed lesson go to the following link: http://www.cisanctuary.org/acidocean/hands_on_activities.php.
I haven't tried the biodiversity jenga yet but it sounds fun too. It can be found at:
Sat Oct 01, 2011 8:42 PM
This might be a little too difficult for your 4th graders, but you could modify these attachments to your liking to make it more suitable for them. I made this activity for 9th graders. They need to make a food web based on the clues that are given about each organism's diet. They enjoyed it for the most part. I think food webs and chains are one of the easier topics to teach in biology.
Tue Oct 04, 2011 2:27 AM
Hi - I just checked out Jason's resource for Navigating Change. What an excellent inquiry curriculum. I really liked the two games he suggested as well - the Circle of Life and the Land to Sea Survival Game. What I really enjoyed was all the blacklines and the resources that were included in the curriculum as well. Thanks for sharing this Jason!
Wed Oct 05, 2011 3:57 PM
I just found this website. It has a food web game for coral reefs. The students make an actual web using a ball of yarn. I think it will be a great hands-on activity for my third graders to have a concrete way of learning about how animals and plants are interconnected.
Here is the link
Wed Oct 05, 2011 6:19 PM
Hi Shawna - I have used that activity with my first and second graders and they really get the connections. It is a wonderful activity to show how everything is affected by everything else in the food chain. Have fun with it!
Sun Oct 09, 2011 10:56 PM
Have you thought about turnint it into a game of tag? Maybe you could hide something things that represent things essential for survival (shelter, water, plants (for the herbivores) etc). And to be a winner of the game you have to find one of each of these items, not get tagged by your predator and also tag your prey if you are a carnivore. I have even thought about doing that with my high schoolers.
Mon Oct 10, 2011 10:56 PM
Not exactly a food web activity, the Oh Deer activity can be adapted for younger students. The object of the activity is to allow students to simulate deer interacting with their environment. It is an active activity (best done outside)that directly relates population to availability of food, water, and shelter in a manner that kids seem to get. I have attached the file.
Mon Oct 10, 2011 11:31 PM
Here is a really simple worksheet that I use with my students where they draw their own food webs according to the info given.
Wed Oct 12, 2011 7:50 PM
I found this food chain game and thought it was really nicely organized in demonstrated different types of food webs, such as the marine chain and mixed chain. When you get the wrong animal in a place, it bounces back so kids can try with other animal to place the right animal in the right place of food web. Also, when children get the food web right at the end, the animation of animal eating their prey is shown, which provide more interest to the children. You should try this on your own first and see how it is!
Fri Oct 14, 2011 2:12 AM
Thanks all for sharing more wonderful ideas! I especially liked the activites shared by Jennifer and Judy. The Oh Deer! game sounds really fun and seems like it could really drive home the point that resources (or lack of) effect the sustainability of a community. I really want to try this activity because this is another concept that students seem to struggle with. I also liked the jenga activity. I'm not sure how it would work with my 4th graders, I might have to adjust some of the language, but it seems like it would really keep them engaged! Thanks again everyone! I'm glad that others were able to use some of the resources I shared too! Let me know how it goes!
Fri Oct 14, 2011 2:26 AM
What I use to step up the food chain food web lesson is to teach about different biomes and the different organisms that exist in that particular biome. Also make sure to involve an ocean food web. You could go into how some ocean producers don't use the sun for energy. There's an activity where students get cards with different organisms and they all stand in a circle with a ball of yarn they toss the ball of yarn to people in their food chain creating a food web. After the web is created you can take an organism out and let the yarn hang and it shows how biodiversity is important.
Fri Oct 14, 2011 5:38 PM
I have students write down everything they eat within a 24-hour period. Then we break the complex foods down into their main ingredients. They put themselves and the sun on a blank paper and draw all the foods getting their energy from the sun and ending up in the student. Doesn't sound impressive on paper, but the students really get creative and I've kept some of their artwork for years!
Fri Oct 14, 2011 8:56 PM
Awesome idea Don! I hadn't thought about having the students record their eating habits for a day. I think I can incorporate some health and art standards into this activity.
Mon Oct 17, 2011 9:06 PM
This activity is designed for 9th grade biology, but it uses yarn to represent the flow of energy and literally makes a food web. It might be a lot of fun for your elementary students.
Wed Oct 19, 2011 1:56 AM
Thanks for sharing that resource Kayla. I kind of like how it integrated basic maths skills to into the activity (calculating biomass). At our school our students really struggle with math, so this is a good way to integrate both disciplines into a single activity.
Sat Oct 29, 2011 12:51 AM
Thanks to everyone for sharing. I feel like there are so many resource suggestions I wil be easily able to create a comprehensive unit on food webs and food chains. While looking on the NSTA site I noticed that a lot of the links were expired so I appreciate all the new links to choose from. I think I am going to start off with the lesson The Living Sea I wanted to do the living sea to tie in with Hawaii and the ocean. It is similar to the activity Shawna suggested with the yarn connecting the different producers and consumers. A colleague of mine pointed out that it is similar to activity we did at 5th grade camp. I think I'll incorporate some aspects from that lesson as well. If I am able to come up with something good, I'll post it.
Sat Oct 29, 2011 12:53 AM
Sat Oct 29, 2011 11:01 PM
Thanks for the idea of doing a topic search in the Learning Center. I looked at the Mystery Pellets lesson and look forward to trying it! I remember doing a similair experiment when I was an elementary school student, it had an impact! This will be a fun way to show my 4th graders the food chain in a very hands on way.
I even have owl feathers that were given to me after being collected here in Hawaii. I would like to extend this lesson into an art lesson to incorporate not only food chains, but also the beauty of the mountain owls we have here in Hawaii.
Sun Oct 30, 2011 7:18 PM
Ruth and all - thank you for the great resource using science inquiry on the o-fish-ial project. I found that this model can be adapted to almost any science inquiry topic and will be wonderful for students to develop their investigation, data collection, reporting and scientific communication skills as well as look at a topic from many different perspectives. Thanks for flagging that and finding it in the library - I can already see many great uses for the resource.
Thu Nov 10, 2011 6:23 PM
I am a student at Indiana University and have to devise a lesson plan about ecosystems. I was wondering if anyone knew any online activities to interest students in the topic. Thanks!
Thu Nov 10, 2011 8:04 PM
I've had success with my sixth graders in the past with a virtual owl pellet at http://www.kidwings.com/owlpellets/flash/v4/index.htm, a Mexico food web activity at [img]http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/explorer/ecosystems/be_an_explorer/map/form.htm#[/img] and a simple producer to consumer vocab definitions at http://www.crickweb.co.uk/ks2science.html#foodchains
Fri Nov 11, 2011 12:11 PM
Aloha from Hawaii! Thank you all for sharing. I loved the idea of having them cut out from magazines different pictures and then placing them in a food chain. I will certainly try this with my 4th graders. I also like this worksheet: Food_Web_Challenge_Revised. The worksheet gives them an example to follow and exposes them to ordering other producers, consumers, and decomposers. I also like this Food Chains 6a lesson outline. I loved the idea of having them draw pictures of producers, consumers, decomposers on index cards and putting them in order. I think this is a great hands on activity that students will enjoy. They can even work in groups and form their own food chain. I can't wait to try all of these activities. Maybe I split the class into groups and have each group do a different activity. Thank you for the awesome ideas. Also check out studyjam.com, it is another great interactive resource.
Fri Nov 11, 2011 1:29 PM
I really enjoy reading all your ideas and thanks for sharing your lessons and worksheet activities. Even though many are designed for elementary classes, I can adapt them for my special ed high school class. The food webs can tie right in with animal dissections and also with invasive species lessons. When we dissect fish I have students try to determine which is the bait and which is food from the natural environment. Luckily we do several fish at one time and can compare the stomach contents. Knowing where the fish were caught gives the students another clue. Last year I got my fish from one local fisherman who used pretty much the same bait. The year before, I purchased them from one of my students who dives and spears often, no bait. Question, have any of you ever dissected geckos or coqui frogs? How would you prepare them for dissection? I have used the worksheet on this website for fish dissections.
Fri Nov 11, 2011 2:54 PM
There is so much information that was shared, thank you all. At our school we do not have textbooks so all the lessons we teach we have to search for and develop on our own and this has been very helpful. All the interactive sites have been especially helpful. We received SMART boards in our classrooms and I have been searching for ways to use it meaningfully in my lessons. I have been teaching a unit for two weeks on food chains and food webs. My students are still struggling to understand decomposers. They stuggle to identify them and underdstand their role in food chains. Does anyone have any suggestions? I was thinking about looking into a worm farm, but at this point I don't have enough time to organize that, maybe for next year.
Sat Nov 12, 2011 4:34 AM
There is an interesting video clip on decomposers at http://www.teachersdomain.org/resource/tdc02.sci.life.oate.decompose/. You may have to register if you like the video and want to use it but it is free to register.
Also, I tried the studyjam.com but got the wrong website. I think it is instead http://studyjams.scholastic.com/studyjams/index.htm which does have interesting videos like brainpop.
Sat Nov 12, 2011 7:44 PM
Here's another game I found that I modified a little to fit into the coral
reef unit that we are working on but it ties in with food chains/webs:
*Play the Ocean Pyramid Game
*each student gets a ziplock of 20 sealife tickets
*each student wears a sign with word and picture of
"producer- green plant", "first order consumer- herbivores" "second
order consumer meat eater", and "TOP PREDATOR- most feared oean predators"
*whoever has a "producer" sign will remove 5 tickets from their bag
and add it to the pyramid. Then they will put the other 15 tickets on the
side for energy
*once a bag is empty they need to sit on the side
*whoever has a "herbivore" sign will go around and collect 75
ticket from any or all "producers". Herbivores must then go and put their
remaining tickets together and see how many sets of 45 they can make. How
ever many sets is how many herbivores may stay standing, the rest sit down
*whoever has a "carnivore" sign will go around and 60 tickets
from any or all "herbivores". Carnivores must then go and puttheir
remaining tickets together and see how many sets of 30 they can make. How
ever many sets is how many carnivores may stay standing, the rest sit down
*whoever has the TOP PREDATOR sign will go around and collect 60
tickets from anyone left standing. then the predator goes and collectsanother
*you should be left with only the TOP PREDATOR standing.
If you get a chance to play it let me know how it goes with your class. My sutdents enjoyed playing it. We did need to go over vobaulary words as a review before we started.
The students also hit a nother standard while doing this game, the 4.1.1 Scientific inquiry. They made a hypothesis as t what parts of the food chain would remain standing. And they could draw conclusions.
It was fun and very interactive!
Sun Nov 13, 2011 2:40 AM
Hi Lia, that sounds like a really great activity! I'm game for anything. My students seem to enjoy games and I like the aspect of having them make a prediction. Do you have the original lesson by any chance? I was wondering if there is any way to adapt the game so that there can be a way to include impacts on the environment? Please let me know if you've thought of a way or if there is a component. I haven't completely thought it through, but I'd like to use it to show how environmental impacts can affect food chains/webs too. Thanks for the idea!
Sun Jan 22, 2012 6:02 PM
Everyone has so many resources to use and I will be able to use all of them. One activity I did with my students is breaking them up into 6 groups 2 groups were decomposers, 2 were producers, 1 were carnivores, 1 were herbivores, you could make less groups depending on your class size. In groups they use the computer and internet to find pictures and information about why their part of the food chain is the most important. In a computer program called "Comic LIfe" each students take the information and pictures they found and make an advertisement.
In class, a spoke person from each group shows their different advertisements and in a debate they explain why there the most important part of the food chain or food web.
At the end I ask them to write about what they learned and if they could live without one part of the food chain. All the students wrote no because we all have an important role to play. Even as important as are role in the food chain is so are all the other roles.
Sun Jan 22, 2012 9:11 PM
I tried doing a food chain/web in a coral reef ecosystem last year with my 6th grade students. I also linked it to sea level rise/global warming. We learned about all the ways the coral reef ecosystems are in danger and what might be the causes. The students were fascinated and loved learning about the coral reef ecosystem while also being presented with real life problems that society is facing today. They were extremely concerned and that made them very engaged in their learning. They also wanted to follow up the lessons with an educational campaign to teach others about how to help our coral reef ecosystems.
Fri Jan 27, 2012 12:21 AM
I am a Tech Coordinator and one of my goals this year is to integrate technology with the Science curriculum. I used to be a Kindergarten teacher so I had never taught food chains/webs before but all of your ideas are wonderful and inspire me! Initially, I thought that many of the ideas were "hands-on" but I realized that there are many ways to add a technology spin to them. Students could film themselves and create a movie showing a food chain/web in action. Another idea mentioned would be to create a PowerPoint presentation - great time to teach about animations in PPT! You could teach about reliability and validity of data when researching on the Internet and how to identify good resources to use and provide appropriate citations. I know that this discussion group is focused on food chains/webs but in my area I always try to kill two birds with one stone.
Don't forget to go through the Flow of Matter and Energy in Ecosystems and Coral Reef SciPacks. There's some wonderful simulation activities! I believe they are referenced in the Organisms SciGuide as well.
Thanks again for sharing your ideas!
Fri Jan 27, 2012 2:38 PM
Rena, I loved how you found ways to "kills two birds with one stone" with your technology emphasis for science; it reminded me of how the picture-perfect authors of the More Picture-Perfect Science Lessons series integrated reading (both fiction and trade books) into a lesson plan on food webs. If anyone is looking for some ideas for including a reading connection, this is an excellent lesson plan. The authors used owl pellets for the explore phase of the 5 E lesson model. ( Also see Judy O's post on Thu Nov 10, 2011 8:04 PM for more lesson ideas using owl pellets. She said,
"I've had success with my sixth graders in the past with a virtual owl pellet at...a Mexico food web activity...")
The Mystery Pellets Lesson Plan is in the NSTA Learning Center (NLC).
The authors incorporate these children's books:
White Owl, Barn Owl by Nicola Davies and
Butternut Hollow Pond by Brian J. Heinz.
Mon Jan 30, 2012 3:05 AM
Currently I am looking for information on Food Chains and Food Webs and I was very inspired to see so many ideas and suggestions. One idea that really caught my eye was the “Owl Pellet” lesson. I think this particular lesson will really allow students to venture deeper and give them a hands on experience. I find this lesson very useful because it ties in so many other topics such as science, math, reading and writing. It also provides many other useful activities and worksheets. As teachers it can be very difficult to tie in other topics within one lesson, but this is the lesson that allows that. I believe this lesson will allow students to ask questions, reflect, and make new discoveries. Thank you Ruth for posting this lesson for all of us to use. I will definitely let you all know how this lesson turns out as soon as I get some owl pellets.
Thu Feb 02, 2012 12:14 AM
Thank you everyone for sharing. I am a pre-service teacher gathering information to make an instructional sequence for 3rd grade Life Science. All of this information will be so helpful! I can’t wait to try out the different games and see how the students respond.
Mon Feb 06, 2012 4:03 AM
I currently teach 7th grade Life Science and one activity that we do (the other 7th grade teacher and I) that helps to incorporate food webs and food chains is we have students randomly select a plant or animal (ones that I pre-select) which we usually use "local" native/invasive/introduced flora and fauna such as nene, fountain grass, happy face spider, lehua, mamane, etc..and they have to create a headband using oaktag and constrution paper (the results are adorable and soooo creative!). From there, students are asked to stand in a circle and to introduce their organism and to create a food web by telling one thing they "feed" on and one thing that "feeds on them" (where they get their energy from and who consumes them for energy)from the rest of the students standing in the amongst them. It becomes a great culminating activity once native/invasive/introduced species are introduced as well as food webs/food chains. It allows the students to really have to think quickly about their position in the food web since they can only do with given the organisms within the circle. I'm sure that there are so many more ways in which you could take this lesson and adapt it to your own needs, probably making it a lot more useful and relevant to what you are focusing your lesson on. Not only does it reinforce the food web/food chain concept but it also allows students the opportunity to learn about our local flora/fauna as well as how/why preservation, conservation/sustainability are huge factors in our changing environments. Have fun with it!
Wed Feb 15, 2012 3:42 AM
I am preparing to teach food chains/webs to my fourth grade students and was looking through the community forums when I was fortuitous enough to find this discussion thread. First of all, thank you to everyone for your great ideas and the resources that you have provided in regard to this science benchmark.
Also, a big mahalo to Alayna for suggesting the “Decomposer Tag” game for the students to play. I can only imagine that the students will absolutely love the way that the science is being integrated with a kinesthetic type of activity. I am going to implement this game into my mini unit of food chains/webs. Thanks again!
Wed Feb 15, 2012 4:57 PM
Wow, what a wealth of resources that I can share with teachers at my school. Thank you to all who posted to this thread.
Discoveryeducation.com also has many resources on food chains/webs for various grade levels. There are many great videos that will come up when you search "food chain web" for keywords. There are also a few quizzes.
There is a science object on ecosystems in crisis that makes for excellent study. Sorry, I was unsuccessful in attaching the link.
Sat Mar 03, 2012 5:20 PM
I also teach 4th grade and thanks to your thread have been able to utilize Jason's Navigating Change [url=http://www.hawaiiatolls.org/teachers/NavChange.php] resource and Rena's idea of students sharing their learning via powerpoint presentations.
To reinforce the concept of competition of resources and interdependence, I am hoping to do a spin on the Owl Pellet dissection by having students dissect albatross boluses. This past October I attended a Teacher Institute/Plastics Free Seminar put on by Punahou School's Luke Center for Public Service and was introduced to the albatross boluses.
A bolus is very similar to an owl pellet in that it holds all of the indigestible material that the bird has consumed. By dissecting the bolus, students can discover the amount of plastics and trash that are in our oceans and eaten by these birds. With the new knowledge gained from this investigation, I had hoped that students could then begin to develop ideas for how to change the way that they live, and advocate others to use less plastic.
I was able to find an incredible unit on how to teach via the boluses, which I have uploaded.
Unfortunately, I have one MAJOR snag....I am having trouble finding boluses! I have contacted educators at NOAA, but have not heard back from them.
Does anyone have any other resources or contacts on getting boluses for the classroom?
Sat Mar 10, 2012 10:28 AM
There is a game about food webs in different biomes at this site that your students may enjoy
You can also take a look at the project wild book which has lots of good interactive lessons that teach ecological concepts
Sun Mar 11, 2012 12:55 PM
After studying about food chains/webs, we go outside, draw what we see in our journal and label it as to what part of the food chain it is. We go for a quick walk around the block a couple days per week and identify things as consumers, producers, decomposers, primary energy source, photosynthesis in process, etc. Kids remember really well after 10 or more walks.
Thu Mar 22, 2012 7:16 AM
i need Food Chain work sheets
Thu Mar 22, 2012 8:26 AM
To find food web worksheets, just google it. Food chain worksheets. Lots of sites you can use come up. I think the project wild stuff is a lot better than a worksheet. Look at that web site. I just have the kids go outside and identify everything in site and it's role in the food chain then they draw the things they've seen and put it in their notebook.
Mon Apr 02, 2012 2:28 PM
Thanks for all the information and game types guys. There are some really good ideas that I am eager to try out with my students. The game that is similar to tag above is a great activity for elementary students and I feel would still work with middle school students. Its a great interactive way to reinforce to students the ideas of decomposers and provides the opportunity for great discussion questions. Food webs and food chains are something that seem to be heavily covered in the State Assessment and I could definitely use more time going over the nuances of the food chain. I also found it useful to use place based organisms while covering this topic for its obvious advantages.
Mon Apr 02, 2012 3:40 PM
a great way for students to understand decomposers is watch them in action in Compost Columns in the classroom (got this idea from Project WILD. I just collect 2 liter pop bottles, turn them on their side cut a door flap on the side then fill them with leaves. Then we put in dirt and worms and observe what happens. I have run various experiment with these once the kids start asking questions. It really doesn't have to cost a thing since I dig the soil and worms from my own yard and the kids collect the bottles and leaves. If you don't have worms in your yard, just bury leaves in a certain area for a while. They will come.
Mon Apr 02, 2012 4:09 PM
That sounds like a great idea and I know where I can get some worms in my yard! I read a little bit about vermicomposting on a different thread, but this sounds like something easier for the kids to make than a whole composting bin. I am definitely motivated to try and get this one started this quarter. Thanks again for your input.
Mon Apr 02, 2012 5:22 PM
You are welcome, Travis. Let me know how it goes or if you want any ideas for how to turn this into an experiment.
Thu Apr 05, 2012 10:24 PM
These are all such great ideas that I can definitely use! I normally have the students create a food web, but I think I'm going to include more hands on type activities to get them more engaged. I especially like the guessing game where they have to create a web based on the clues provided! I'm thinking I may have them work in groups & work together to cut out the pictures and arrange them on a bigger piece of paper before drawing in the arrows. I also liked the web challenge where they will need to draw each web individually. Thank you for these wonderful ideas...I know the students will have fun with them too!
Fri Apr 20, 2012 2:48 AM
As for the owl pellet idea, does anyone know if it safe to manipulate them? I had a student who found one and brought one in but I was worried about handling it too much because of the risk of diseases from mice. I think the ones that you can buy have been processed so they are safer to touch.
I am also teaching food webs again with my students, but this time around I want to incorporate nutrition standards with the science. Does anyone have any suggestions?
Fri Apr 20, 2012 4:48 AM
I did a similar game with flow of energy with the FAST curriculum I was learning. The nice thing with this game was being able to modify it down to one ball of yarn and having it "flow" in many directions. My students sometimes get so tangled up that they almost fall on the floor laughing! I love how the game draws out reasoning and defending of opinions. Students will argue over a "throw" and give details as to why or why not the receiving party was appropriate. They really seem to internalize the concept with this game. Thanks for sharing!
Sun Apr 29, 2012 9:43 PM
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss offers many opportunities to discuss science topics. In reference to a food chain, after reading the story to the class, or having the students take turns reading the text, or watching a YouTube narrative of the book, have students draw a food chain for the ecosystem in The Lorax. Why did the animals have to leave?
This book can also lead to discussion in many other areas such as:
Pollution — Discuss the types of pollution and how they affected the world around the factory.
Ecosystem — What is an ecosystem? What is in an ecosystem? How did the ecosystem change throughout the story? Why?
Plant Life Cycle — At the end of the story, there is one truffula seed left.
Where do you think truffula seeds come from? Does the tree make a fruit or maybe cones? Discuss and draw the life cycle of that seed. Include the steps of a seed, seedling, tree, fruit/cone.
Habitat and adaptations — What is an adaptation? Give some examples. What adaptations do the Swomee Swans, Barbaloots, and truffula trees have to survive in this ecosystem?
Tue May 15, 2012 12:40 AM
I looked at success with this benchmark as boiling down to vocabulary acquisition, so I tried to design something that would emphasize context, engagement and repetition. I took a few ideas from other LPs, and added a little something of my own...
I introduced the key vocabulary with a brief interactive video. On the white board, I made a color-coded key for the students and explained to the students that "you are what you eat": Yellow means "producer," because plants use sunlight to make their food. Green means "primary consumer," because these consumers eat plants. "Secondary consumers" are red, because those animals eat meat. And black means "decomposers," which is the color of rich soil.
We then split the students into groups of 4-5, and asked them to choose a role to act out in a little play. Some groups had more than one producer, consumer or decomposer. We asked the students to think in specific terms (e.g. not just a "primary consumer," but a deer that eats grass) once they chose their basic roles. Once they groups worked out the major details about who eats who, we called up one group at a time to perform. I randomly called on the remaining class members to identify the role that each student played. Once we had figured out what each student was, we called up the next group to perform...
Once every group had a chance to perform, I passed out a colored piece of construction paper that matched the students role in their mini-play. I asked them to write down the name of their plant/animal, and to write whether they are an herbivore, a carnivore, an omnivore...or if they make their own food through photosynthesis. Then I asked them to get into a circle.
I handed a bowl of yarn to one student, and then we passed the yarn to a student that the first student would eat. We tried to make as many connections as we could, so that the students could literally see what a food web looks like.
Fri Aug 31, 2012 10:10 PM
This is a great thread to read. I just wanted to share about what I do after we go over the food chains and food webs. I teach fourth grade here in Hawaii. Just wanted to share.
After we go over the basics of the food chain and a food web in different environments, I have my students draw a picture of themselves at the top of the page and break down their paper into a consumers and producers section. They are making a food web of themselves. I stick to natural things they consume like fruits and vegetables as well as any consumers (animals) they eat. They draw everything they eat and then they figure out the arrows to which animal eats what kind of producer and then all the arrows should point to them at the top. This is a great culminating activity and if you want to tie in the project to nutrition and health you can talk about the types of foods their eating. They learn a lot by looking at their own food web.
Wed Sep 19, 2012 4:08 AM
Thank you for starting this thread. There are a lot of great ideas...especially since food chains/food webs activities can often become commonplace if we don't look outside to resources that others have available...thank you all for sharing!!
Mon Apr 01, 2013 5:42 AM
Love the Jenga food web lesson plan. Here is an online game for younger kids http://www.ecokids.ca/pub/eco_info/topics/frogs/chain_reaction/
Sat Apr 27, 2013 3:21 PM
There are so many great lessons on food chains and webs! Being that our food chain/web standard came up during our non-fiction writing quarter, I decided to do a cross-curricular project so therefore I present to you the following link that could used in a variety of ways. This is a link to a prezi (an interactive presentation) or actually over 1000 prezis that have been made specifically about food webs. http://prezi.com/explore/search/#search=food+webs&reusable=f...users=less
If you explore, you could choose the one that would best match you and your students or go even further by searching a specific food web. Then you could present the information of the food web to kick-start your food web unit/lesson or end your unit as a wrap-up or review. The other way to use this site is to have your students do research and create a prezi which is like a more interactive version of powerpoint. They will love to play around with the graphics, colors, shapes, transitions, inserting pictures, etc.
I had my fourth grade students pick a biome to research and if I could go back in time and had a laptop for each one of them, I would have gone the route of having each of them or each group create a prezi to present the food web that exists in each biome. Instead they created a class magazine and each child was responsible for a page (research, writing, layout, illustrations, non-fiction text features, etc.) It really showed me just how much they learned!