In this set of activities adaptable for grades K-3, parents and educators will find ideas for teaching about food chains and food webs. These activities are designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. Food Chain topic page, which includes a movie, quizzes, online games, printable activities, and more.
Classroom Activities for Teaching About Food Chains
Food Chain Chain
Have students research and outline a food chain. Remind your students that most food chains begin with the Sun, which provides energy for everything that grows on the planet. Then have students draw each part of their food chain on individual rectangular strips of construction paper. Make sure they label each picture. Then have them make a paper chain link with their drawings. Students can share their food chains with the whole class and discuss each part. Is the living thing a producer or a consumer? Is it a carnivore, herbivore, or omnivore? Then have students predict what might happen if one of their links in their chain became endangered or extinct. Have them break a link of their chain to demonstrate and draw conclusions.
Food Web Mural
Have the class pick a habitat together, such as a desert, ocean, or pond. Then have students brainstorm different animals that belong in the habitat. Encourage them to name both producers and consumers, and assist them in identifying which consumers are herbivores and which are carnivores. You may need to visit the library together or research on the Internet. Then draw a large food web mural on butcher paper. You may want to assign small groups to draw a specific set of organisms of the habitat, for example, the consumers of the ocean floor, or you may want to assign small groups to research and draw specific kinds of animals, such as mammals, reptiles, fish, or amphibians. Continuously ask questions during the creative process. What might happen if the habitat was destroyed? What could happen in the ocean if predatory fish, like shark or tuna, became extinct? What might happen on land if organisms lower on the food chain, like worms or caterpillars, become extinct?
Family and Homeschool Activities for Teaching About Food Chains
Food Chain Chain
Together with your child, learn about a threatened or endangered plant or animal in your neighborhood or state. You can visit the library or research on the Internet to find endangered organisms in your area. Furthermore, almost every zoo has an area dedicated to local plants and animals. Study the organism’s role in your local environment. How does the organism get food? What relies on the organism for food? Why is it threatened or endangered, and when did the threat begin? Learn about the organism’s role with the food chain and food web. How can the children find ways to get involved in protecting the species?
Have your child write down what he or she had for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Then help your child to work backwards to create a food chain of his or her meal. If your child had a glass of milk, then he or she should trace the milk back to a cow, and trace the cow back to grass, and trace the grass back to the Sun. Have your child draw their meal and create different food chains. Challenge your child to see if he or she can connect their food chains together. For example, the Sun needed to grow the grass can also be used to grow the orange tree for their juice and the grains for their bread. The grains might also be used to feed the turkey for their turkey sandwich.