Summary: In this lesson, students use Lucidchart's diagramming software to demonstrate understanding of the transfer of energy through the food chain. Students will depict the sun as the primary source of energy in a food chain. This lesson ends with students constructing their own food chains, and writing an explanatory paragraph to explain the flow of energy through the food chain they constructed.
How does the sun's energy travel through food chains?
Do all food chains trace back to the sun?
What are the essential elements of food chains/webs?
5-LS1.C.2, 5-LS1.C.3 , 5-LS2.A.1, 5-PS3.D.4
5B, 5C, 6C
Students will be able to...
construct a food chain, correctly demonstrating the flow of energy.
write a clear, focused explanatory text to demonstrate their understanding of energy flow through a food chain.
identify characteristics of producers and consumers
Grade Level: 4-6
Time: Two 50-minute sessions
Christie Madsen is a former elementary and middle school classroom teacher. She has spent the last five years supporting the meaningful implementation of education technologies in schools and districts nationally and internationally.
Materials: Student devices (Chromebooks, iPads, or Lab Setting)
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Ask students to take a minute and think about what they ate for dinner last night and write it down and then to spend a few moments brainstorming how that plant/animal got energy before it was cooked. Ask students to continue working backwards until they cannot go any further. Come together as a class and have students share where they stopped. How many ended up with a plant? How many ended with the sun?
Share that today's lesson will focus on tracing the flow of energy through a food chain. Students will have an opportunity to create their own food chain after reviewing key vocabulary.
Explain that the most important part of the food chain is the sun. Review a simple food chain with the students using the Food Chain Slide Show. In order to present to class, enter the Lucidpress Preview Mode, navigate to the Food Chain Slide Show, and click on the first picture of the sun. Use keyboard arrow to move through the images, while explaining:
The sun's energy is used by the plant to PRODUCE its own food, that's why the plant is a producer. Then it is eaten by the insect, who is CONSUMING it, that's why it's a consumer. Then the insect is CONSUMED by the mouse, who is CONSUMED by the owl. The owl isn't consumed by anything, but when it dies, bacteria will break down its body to join the soil again, where a new plant will grow to start a whole new food chain!
Point out that the owl is still getting it's energy from the sun, because he's getting his energy from the mouse, who got it from an insect, who got it from the plant, who got it from the sun.
Begin by watching BrainPop's Food Chain video and use it to continue the discussion about dinner last night. Discuss the following either whole group or have students work in pairs.
Are plants always at the bottom of the food chain?
What about those of us who traced our plant energy back to the sun?
How do plants or producers make their own food?
What is the source of energy for plants?
What are the three major elements of food webs? (Producers, Consumers, Decomposers)
What are some key characteristics and examples of each?
If you take one item out of a food chain, how does this affect all other plants or animals in a food chain?
What is important about decomposers, such as bacteria and fungi?
What would happen if the sun didn’t exist?
As students are creating their food chains, circulate the room and pose open-ended questions to assess understanding of key concepts and ideas. Consider asking the following questions:
Why did you label the plant as a producer?
How do you know the plant is a producer?
How does the plant produce its own energy?
What type of consumer did you include?
How do you know that animal is a consumer?
What do we call a plant eater?
What do we call a meat eater?
What do we call those who eat both plants and meat?
As students finish their diagrams, ask them to write a summary paragraph explaining how energy flows through their food chain. Ask them to explain how they labeled each plant or animal they included and why.
Allow students time to present their diagram to a peer and read their description so that they can solicit feedback from one another before sharing their final version with the teacher.
When constructing a food chain, arrows should represent the flow of energy. Tell students that they are going to use Lucidchart's diagramming software to construct their own food chain. Each food chain should include:
at least two consumers
All food chains should be properly labeled and include both images and text.
Rather than a traditional paper/pencil or cut and glue food chain, students will leverage Lucidchart's free educational offering to gain real-world, relevant experience with a best-of-breed diagramming application. Lucidchart encourages students to gain and practice digital literacy skills and provides an opportunity to create a powerful visual aids to support the explanation of a complex process.
Have students play BBC's Bitesize Food Chain Game to explore which predators are the deadliest on land and sea.
For those ready to explore the increasingly complex relationships in an ecosystem, allow them to try their hand at PBS's Antarctic Food Web, a great precursor to building their own complex food web using Lucidchart.
In this project-based lesson, students will be assessed on a food chain flowchart. Using a rubric, determine if students have properly diagrammed the flow of energy. Flowcharts should have arrows moving in the correct direction and must include the sun, one producer, and at least two consumers, all properly labeled. Students should also provide a written summary, detailing how energy flows through their food chain.
Food Chain Slide Show