Food Chains

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SWBAT describe a food chain.

Big Idea

How is a food chain like a chain?

Setting the Stage

National Science Education Standards

The lesson helps students understand that all animals have a dependency on other plants and/or animals. Some animals eat other animals that eat the plant.  In this lesson, the students learn about the food chain as a model where living things get the food that they need. Also, they learn that most food chains start with the sun.

Next Generation Science Standards

2-LS2-1 focuses on the observations of plants and animals "to compare the diversity of life in different habitats." Students learn that there are many different food chains on land and water, and that plants and animals live in certain habitats where their needs can be met.  

Science and Engineering Practices in NGSS

This lesson addresses SP 2: developing and using models and SP 8: obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information.  Students will have the opportunity to create a model of a food chain flow chart. In K-2,"modeling builds on the processes to develop models that represent events."  SP 8: obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information gives students a chance to communicate information in a written form that provides information about scientific ideas.  This lesson is important because it provides students an opportunity to construct a flow chart that demonstrates how plants, animals, and the environment interact to provide basic life requirements while writing a sentence to explain their food chain.

Background Knowledge:

My students understand that most living things need other living things to survive. They know that animals need plants and some animals need other animals. My students also understand the difference between predators (animals that hunt other animals for food) and prey (animals that are hunted by predators).


Food Chain Mix and Match Game

 Food Chain-flow chart



10 minutes

To start the lesson, I ask students: What do animals need to survive?  Why do animals need other animals?  I pose these questions to the students to see what they know about a food chain. Once some students have shared their thinking, I introduce the  food chain video

I inform the students that the sun is the starting point for all food chains. Plants use the source of energy from the sunlight for the process of photosynthesis, which allows them to manufacture sugars and starches. I write photosynthesis on the board. I have the students say the word. Then they sky write the word (stretch one arm out and point their finger to write in the sky). This helps my students with word recognition and oral language.  

The following questions are posed: How does the sun help animals live?  How is the food chain like a chain/connection?  The students are encouraged to speak in complete sentences. This helps to boost students’ oral communication as well as assist with increasing writing skills.

I introduce the following vocabulary terms: food chain, predator, prey, predators, herbivores, carnivores, omnivores, and food web.  The students say the words and they sky write the words and, I discuss the meanings. Here is the Sky Writing video.  These terms also help students to create their food chain later in the lesson.

Then the students play the "Mix and Match" vocabulary game. I randomly place cards on the students' desks, with the words and meanings. The students with a card quietly stand and locate their match.  They are instructed to come to the front of the class.  Then I provide two advanced students with a mask, white mask for the lawyer and black mask for the judge. The students stand and sing the teacher created song "Lawyer and Judge".   Here is the Lawyer and Judge Song and the Mix and Match Game.

The lawyer presents the  matching pairs to the class, and the judge decides if the match is correct.  If the match is correct, the class reads the match. If the match is not correct, I call on students sitting at their desk to help locate the correct match.  Calling on the students at the desks help the students to feel involved. Also, it permits students to review and develop with scientific terms, focusing on the importance of vocabulary in learning. The words are placed on the word wall for future reference.

Resources- You can refer to these sites for additional information on food chain and food webs.










20 minutes

At the students’ desks, they are provided with a flow chart. Students construct a flow chart that demonstrates how plants, animals, and the environment interact to provide basic life requirements.  Students are provided 20 minutes to complete their flow chart.  My students are timed to make sure that they complete the activity in a timely manner. This helps them to stay on task.

The flow chart permits students to show their understanding of the food chain.  It also permits the students to construct a model of a land or water food chain.  This is imperative in helping students develop SP 2: creating models and diagrams. Students are encouraged to include writing with their flow chart so they can develop into great scientific writers using scientific terms. They are learning how to communicate to others.



10 minutes

I permit students to share their food chain with their elbow buddy, allowing their buddy to provide constructive feedback. This give students an opportunity to communicate about their flow chart.  It is imperative that peers get a chance to discuss each others' work. They can offer suggestions or give compliments.

All the food chains are taken up so I can analyze the students' work. In looking at the students' work, I am checking to see that the students' food chains show how living things get the food that they need.  They all should start with the sun.

Student work 1

Student work 2