Food Chains and Food Webs Lesson Plan: Understanding Energy Flow

Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8, K-3

In this Food Chains and Food Webs lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades K-8, students use BrainPOP resources to construct a food chain and explain how energy flows through the chain. Students will explore how all living things depend directly or indirectly on green plants for food. They will then use pictures and arrows to create a food web that includes the sun, green plants, herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Construct a food chain and explain how energy flows through the chain.
  2. Explain how all living things depend directly or indirectly on green plants for food.
  3. Use pictures and arrows to create a food web that includes the sun, green plants, herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores.

Materials:

  • Photocopies class set of BrainPOP food chain activity pages
  • Pictures of plants and animals (download under 'Worksheets' section below)
  • Ball of yarn

Vocabulary:

food web; producers; consumers; decomposers; energy; interact; omnivores; carnivore; herbivore

Preparation:

Photocopy animal pictures and and cut apart. Have students tape one picture to their shirts (I also created necklaces after laminating the pictures with yarn.)

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Show the Food Chains movie on either BrainPOP or BrainPOP Jr. (depending on your students' age and ability levels) and complete either the BrainPOP or BrainPOP Jr. activity page.
  2. Tell students they will be creating their own food web. Have them stand in a large circle. The student with the sun picture should be in a very clear spot in the circle. The students should look around and ask themselves: Who in this circle could I give my energy to? (Who might eat me?) Who in the circle could give me energy? (Who might I eat?)
  3. Explain to the students that the ball of yarn represents the energy in the environment. Ask the student who represents the sun to hold the end of the yarn tightly and toss the ball to someone who can use that energy. When that student catches the yarn, they should pass the yarn to someone else who could use the energy. (Example: Sun->green plant->rabbit->fox) The ball of yarn should then be returned to the sun and repeated until every student is part of the food web.
  4. As an extension, I ask certain students to gently tug on the string they are holding. I then ask any students who feel the tug to begin tugging on their string, very quickly, all of the students begin feeling their string being pulled. We then discuss the effects of even one small organism dying out in an ecosystem.
  5. As a closing activity for this lesson, older students can use the graphic organizer. Have the students fill in three of the food chains they observed while "weaving" the web today.

    Extension Activity:

    Try using this open-ended flow chart graphic organizer as a place for younger students a place to record their observations on food chains.


    Downloadable Resources:

    foodwebanimalcards.doc


    BrainPOP Movie:

    Food Chains (Activity Page Answer Key)


    BrainPOP Jr Movie:

    Food Chain