Everything Needs Energy

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Students will be able to retell information from non-fiction text.

Big Idea

Recalling information from non-fiction text is a valuable skill which is practiced in this lesson with the aid of a retelling tool - Retelling a story aids in comprehension


10 minutes

Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.

In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet go.” By saying walking feet I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.

When all of the students are seated on their dot in the rug area I ask the students, “Where do you think you get your energy from?”

I use the Fair Sticks to select a few students to respond to the question.

“Those were interesting ideas as to where we get our energy. Finn said we get our energy from food. Where does the food come from?”

Once again I select a few students to respond to the question.

“I like your ideas. I like how Rachel said we get food from animals. So where do the animals get their food from?”

I let a couple of students respond to the question.

“Your right Adam; lots of times the animals do get their food from the farmer. The farmer usually feeds the animals things like grains, corn, hay and grass. So if that is where the animals get their energy to grow from, where do the plants get their energy from?”

I select and listen to two or three student responses.

“You all had great responses to the question and we will see if we can find the answer in today’s book.” 


The reason I ask the students to begin thinking about where their energy comes from is I want them to understand how everything needs energy from one place or another. Where that energy comes from is important and we need to understand where energy comes from in order to preserve that energy source. Once we have had this discussion the students should be open to following the flow of energy mentioned in the text.  


45 minutes

“This book is called Pass the Energy Please! It is written by Barbara Shaw McKinney and illustrated by Chad Wallace. What animal do we see on the front cover?”

“That’s right it is our friend the owl. We learned a lot about what owls eat from going through the owl pellets. Who can recall what type of food the owl ate?”

“Yes the owl ate lots of different kinds of rodents, bats and snakes. Because the owl was a raptor – a bird of prey – what kind of animal does that make it?”

“Great memory team – a carnivore is right.”

“Let’s go ahead and read our book and find out how the owl fits into the energy picture.”


During reading we discuss the new vocabulary words – absorbing, photosynthesis, osmosis, liquefied, etc. We review some old vocabulary words we have come across in previous lessons – carnivore, herbivore, omnivore, vegetarian, etc.   

If the students have trouble recalling the words we have read before I pull out the book with the page already marked - Photo of page 26 

After the book is over I set it down and pull out a book we have looked at before, A Forest Habitat, by Bobbie Kalman, and turn to page 28.

“On this page I notice a very clear example of a food chain, it says…” - I read the page to the students.

Now I hold up the page I downloaded from the Growing Up Wild website.

“Here is an example of a very simple playground food chain. This shows us that food chains happen everywhere.”

Now I open up a blank screen on the SMARTBoard and ask the students to come up with a food chain.

“Who can tell me some things I might find on a food chain?”

I select students to come up with plants and animals and I write their responses on the board. When we are done it looks a lot like a food web, which I just briefly explain to the students. Food chain on SMARTBoard


After we have finished talking about the things we see on the SMARTBoard I have the students take a seat around the edge of the rug area. Edge of the Rug Song

“Today boys and girls you are going to make your very own food chain to take home and explain to your family what a food chain is and recall some of the information that we read about today.”

I pull an unmade sample out of the kit box.  (Kits can be ordered from the Nature Watch website - one kit contains 25 food chains)

I take apart the nesting tubes and put them in order from smallest to largest in front of the students.

“What do you think I am going to do with these?”

I select a couple of students to respond.

“Those are great ideas. I am going to make a food chain. What do you think will go on the smallest tube?”

“A plant is right. Just remember what does the energy chain actually start with?”

“That’s right the sun. So a plant comes next and then what is something we can put on the next tube?’

I select a couple of students to respond to the question.

“I am glad you were listening to the book and our discussion because those were great ideas for what could come next. Well in the kit they have provided us with a food chain to put on the tubes. Which animal do you think goes on the next tube?”

“Yes the grasshopper. What would be next?”

Repeat this process until the students are all clear about the order of the food chain.

“There is one more direction I am going to give you. You must color these scientifically in order for them to be a correct representation of the information we have learned. What does “color scientifically” mean?”

“That’s right… the animals and plants should be colors that I can find in nature.”

“At your tables you will find crayons, scissors, glue and books with pictures of the animals you have in your food chain. Today you will not need to write your name as we have already written your name in marker on the bottom of the largest tube.” Food chain tool picture

“Does anyone have any questions?”


Once the students understand the directions I send them over to the work stations one group at a time to maintain a safe and orderly classroom environment. It sounds a bit like this:

“Station number one go have some food chain fun.

Station number two you know what to do.

Station number three hope you were listening to me.

Station number four shouldn’t be here anymore.”

These are not always done in that order so the students have to pay attention to when their station actually gets called.  

Students working on food chain     Students working on food chain 2                         

Students working on food chain 3      Students working on food chain 4 

Allow the students 25 minutes to work on this activity. Set a visual timer and remind the students to look at the timer so they will use their time wisely. 


10 minutes

When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look listen” technique mentioned above. “When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair, and use walking feet to go and take a spot on your dot.”

Students know to put completed work in the finished work bin. Any work that is not completed goes into the under construction bin and can be completed throughout the day whenever the student finds he/she has spare time or it will be completed during free choice center time.

Once the students are seated I tell them that their exit slip for today is going to be to respond with an example of what could come next in the food chain I give them.

“Boys and Girls I am going to say an item in a food chain and you tell me what could come next. For example, if Mrs. Clapp pulled my fair stick out and said “Sun,” I would say what?”

“That’s right a plant. I am going to say dandelion.”

Once a student has told me his/her item they are able to use the hand sanitizer and go to get their snack. If a student is unable to give me an answer, they know they can do one of two things.

  1. They can ask a friend to help, or
  2. They can wait until everyone else has gone and then we will work on a food chain item together.

Having the students state the next item in a given food chain causes them to have to think about what they have heard during the reading and also recall the activity. This repetition of information helps students build understanding and increases the likelihood of the information "sticking" with the student.  


5 minutes

I will call each student over during a time which fits into my classroom schedule. I usually call my students over to work with me during free choice centers time or at integrated work station time (only if I have enough parent volunteers and I am not working a station myself).

I will show the student the cover of the book Pass the Energy Please!, and ask him/her to tell me one piece of information they can recall from the book.

When I ask the students to tell me one piece of information they can recall from the book I am essentially helping the students deepen their comprehension of the text. The student has to think about what they heard, recall a fact that stood out and meant something to them and then retell it to me in their own words. This process takes the listening part of the activity and transforms the information into a conceptual understanding through thinking and speaking, thus helping develop comprehension of what was heard.    


Observe owl pellets and make recordings of the student findings in a science journal.


Write about what kind of animal you would want to be – carnivore, omnivore or herbivore.

Which animal would you be prompt


At another station I have the students work on building food chains with a variety of animal and plant cards.


When I do not have the food chain kits I have the students work on making a food chain crown to wear. The directions and materials are posted here. Food Chain Station Directions