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Food Chain Frenzy 3rd - 6th | Lesson #2, Series 6

Food Chain Frenzy

Vocabulary: Human Impact, Food Chain, Food Web, Carnivores, Herbivores, Omnivore, Consumers, Producers, Decomposers, Energy, Ecosystems

Grade Levels: 3rd - 6th

Click here for Series #6 Description

Science Framework

Spanish Lesson Plan


Lesson Bridge:

Connect this lesson (2) with ‘Living in Our Watershed’ (1) by asking students “who can tell me what a watershed is?” Have students pair share their answers before sharing with the group. Remind students that keeping our watersheds clean  is important to all life! Just like the garden, we all need clean water to survive. Another thing that we all need to survive is the sun! Do you know where most of our energy on earth comes from? (the sun). Today we will be discussing food chains and how the energy from the sun is passed around and shared by plants, animals and people!

Lesson Overview:

In this lesson, students will explore the interconnectivity between land-based pollution, water, and life forms. We will discuss food chains and food webs, and the sun as the source of all energy for life. Students will categorize populations of organisms based on what functions they serve in an ecosystem (producers, consumers, decomposers).  

Suggested Activities and Learning Objectives by Grade:

Essential Question(s) that Connect CCCs and SEPs:

Vocabulary:

Human Impact- The collective real-world effect our action as humans has on the environment

Food Chain- The order in which organisms or living things depend on each other to live.

Food Web- A group of food chains in an ecosystem

Carnivores- An animal that feeds on the flesh of other animals

Herbivores- An animal that only feeds on plants

Omnivore- An animal that feeds on both plants and animals

Consumers- A living thing that must eat other organisms to obtain energy

Producers- Organisms that produce their own food or energy

Decomposers- A living thing that feeds on and breaks down plant and animal matter

Energy- All living things need energy to live and grow, all energy begins with the sun.

Ecosystems- A biological community of interacting organisms and their environment.

Materials:

Prep:

Activity Procedure:

Engage

What’s a food chain? Does anyone have an example of a food chain? Draw/write on the board. What makes up a food chain? (Producers, consumers, decomposers). Explain briefly what function each part of a food chain serves and ask students for some examples. To take this one step further, do we know what a carnivore and a herbivore is? What about an omnivore? Define and relate to who falls where on the food chain (carnivores towards the top, omnivores towards the middle and herbivores towards the bottom). Give examples.

Explore

Go into the garden and look for examples of a food chain. See if you can find a producer, consumer and/or decomposer. When students return to the outdoor learning area ask a few to share what they discovered.

Explain

So now we know what things make up a food chain but where do living things get their energy from? (the sun). Plants convert sunlight into starch which herbivores and omnivores eat. Who can remind me what a herbivore/omnivore is? Herbivores convert the starch into muscle and fat, which other animals eat. Eventually these animals die and they are eaten by decomposers. At this point their body turns to soil to nourish future plants.

Thumbs up/down: Are we a part of food chains?

How so? Have students help write a food chain which they are a part of on the board. There are food chains all over the world. Ones in the ocean and on the land and in the air. We also talk about something called the food web which isn’t as straightforward as a food chain. A food web describes how we all depend on one another for survival. What would happen if there were no plants? (There’d be no animals).

Think, Pair, Share: What if there were no meat eaters or what we call carnivores? (Then there’d be too many herbivores and they would eat all the plants and starve). We are going to see how this works with a game!

Action: Food Chain Frenzy Game

  1. Review your Garden Agreements
  2. Have the students get into a circle. To help form a circle, you can have them touch elbows with each other.
  3. Hand out ALL of the Species Cards to students. There are 33 species cards total and 6 different food chains, so some students may have more than one card.
  4. One by one, go around the circle and have students read and display their card. As a group, decide if the creator is a producer, consumer, or decomposer. Help them out if they don’t know.
  1. *Have the students keep their cards facing out so that everyone can see
  1. The student with the sun card will begin with the ball of yarn. The sun will start off the game by holding on to the end of the yarn and handing its energy (the ball of yarn) to another student who has a plant card in the circle.
  2. When the student with the plant card is holding the ball of yarn, ask the group who is holding a card that might eat that plant (ex: A Monarch butterfly eats Milkweed).
  1. *If you want to follow each of the six food chains precisely, refer to the Food Chain Cheat Sheet and help students pass the yarn to the correct species. Otherwise, it’s completely okay to mix up the food chains and see what happens!
  1. You will be helping out by delivering the energy (ball of yarn) to the students. The students' job is just to decide what species it would make sense to give their energy to, or, what species would eat them. Make sure students are using the vocabulary words to identify key players in the food chain.
  2. When the ball of yarn makes its way to the decomposer, continue the cycle by passing the ball of yarn to another student who has a plant card and repeat, going through another food chain. Explain that decomposers break down carnivore species once they get old and die (and really, all members of the food web) so that energy is returned to plants and the cycle can begin again.
  3. Once every student is holding the yarn and part of the web, give a slight tug to the yarn so students can feel how connected they are to everyone else. These food chains have become a food web and we all rely on one another!

Reflect:

So let’s think again about what happens if one group was removed from the food web. What would happen if we no longer had producers? Do we think this is already happening with human impact? The more we build and develop, the less space there is to plant. We are also depleting the soil by over planting small areas, which means less energy is making its way into plants. If less energy is going into plants, how does it affect the rest of the food web? How do you think we can change or mitigate this? (Create more gardens! Eat locally, take care of our soil by making a happy place for decomposers to live via composting).

Extension/Filer Activities:

Cited Curriculum:

Gardens Change Lives!                                                          Page  of