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Elementary Science

Food Chains

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Alexandra Ulsher Alexandra Ulsher 840 Points

I did a food chain 5E lesson with 4th grade students who have had only a few, very boring, lessons in science throughout their schooling. Any suggestions on activities?

Pamela Dupre Pamela Dupre 92364 Points

NGSS 3rd - 5th grade states: LS1.C Organization for matter and energy flow in organisms Animals obtain food they need from plants or other animals. Plants need water and light. Food provides animals with the materials and energy they need for body repair, growth, warmth, and motion. Plants acquire material for growth chiefly from air, water, and process matter and obtain energy from sunlight, which is used to maintain conditions necessary for survival. For 4th grade I usually teach this by focusing on owls, where they live, what they eat, how they digest food, their characteristics, etc. I order owl pellets. We use goggles and gloves, and a dichotomous key (which can come as part of the owl pellet order.) The dissecting part will take two class periods if we have only 30 - 45 minutes. Then we try assembling the skeletons as best we can and glue them to a sheet of construction paper. We label the animal, bird, vole, shrew, mouse, etc. Then we graph how many of each animal that contained in the owl pellet. We discuss what those animals eat. Eventually, we work down to producers. We then combine that data from each group. We discuss what would happen to the owl population if one of those animals was extinct, now how about two of those animals? Who eats owls? What happens to them if the owls have no food supply and become extinct?

Frieda Lamprecht Frieda Lamprecht 1555 Points

You might try the Oh Deer activity from Project Wild! It is kinesthetic and tactile, but also allows students to analyze the data.


Someone posted this online. The Project Wild website: http://www.projectwild.org/aboutus.htm. The workshops are worth taking. Great PD and free resources.

Also check out the resources from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: These are excellent! I have used these in my grade 4 classroom, but they have wonderful activities for all grades! https://www.wildflower.org/learn/teacher-resources

Have fun! Remember, you can take any activity and change it to an inquiry activity. For example: Post pictures from online of different animals. Have students view and create questions based on the pictures. Have a living or once living organism in your class. What questions can students generate? I have found that students usually generate questions for 90% of the learning objectives I want them to learn and experience. The buy-in is much greater if I say we are going to investigate Mary's question rather than just introduce a lesson.

Kristin Schlemmer Kristin Schlemmer 240 Points

I also teach 4th grade and we do a unit on Food Chains/Webs. The best thing I've done is to involve the students in role plays using the roles of sun, producer, herbivore, nectivore, predator, scavenger, etc... Then, we analyze the flow of energy and how these same roles exist in different ecosystems and how they are alike and different depending on the environment. They research and then present their food web/chain by acting it out for the class or creating another type of representation. I have found it very effective, especially in an inclusion setting.

Brianna Kendrick Brianna Kendrick 375 Points

Make a life size visual food web with the students and string. Have them number off and assign numbers (1-producer 2- consumer 3- decomposer) toss a ball of string from 1-2 2-3 3-1 and tell them how decomposers break down organisms in order to make good soil for producers. Once you are done you have a giant food web. Another thing you can do with them is give scenarios ( the sun stopped shinning and all of the producers died) have the producers drop their strings, this creates a chain reaction until all the strings are down and the food chain is nonexistent.

Pamela Dupre Pamela Dupre 92364 Points

Great idea!

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