Ecology: How We Get Along - A Look at Ecosystems

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Objectives:

  • The students will learn about ecosystems.

  • The students will be able to explain the difference between a living and a non-living thing.

  • The students will be able to explain the difference between a food web and a food chain.

  • The students will be able explain the difference between producers and consumers.

  • The students will be able to define the terms: herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores

  • The students will be able to explain the Trophic Levels of the food chain.

  • The students will create a food chain.

Questions that encompasses the objective:

  • Think about a forest. How many different types of plants and animals do you think live in the forest?

  • Do they need each other to survive?

Prepare the Learner: Activating Prior Knowledge. 

How will students prior knowledge be activated?

Warm up by asking students:

  • What do you know about ecosystems and food chains?

Common Core State Standards:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.2.1

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.2.1 B

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.2.4

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.2.2

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.2

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.2 B

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.3.1

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.3.4

Materials and Free Resources to Download for this Lesson: 

Ecosystems, Biomes, and Habitats PowerPoint and Activities

Input:
What is the most important content in this lesson?
To reach this lesson’s objective, students need to understand:

  • How plants and animals work together in a habitat.

  • The difference between living and nonliving things and the role they play in the ecosystem.

  • The difference between a food chain and a food web.

  • The difference between producers and consumers.

How will the learning of this content be facilitated?

  • The teacher will begin the class by handing out the “Living or Nonliving” worksheet. The worksheet has 10 pictures on it: 5 living things and 5 non-living things. The students will place a checkmark next to the things that are living and an X next to the things that are non-living. The teacher should allow the students to work for about five minutes. Once five minutes is over, the teacher should review the worksheet. Provided below are the answers to the worksheet:

    • Mountain: nonliving

    • Tree: living

    • Flower: living

    • Waterfall: nonliving

    • Sun: nonliving

    • Rain: nonliving

    • Rabbit: living

    • Shell: nonliving

    • Cat: living

    • Pig: living

**It is important to mention that living things require food and water, while nonliving things do not. In order for something to be classified as living, it needs to go through the birth, growth, and death cycle. Seeds, dogs, and plants are living things; rocks, mountains, and rain are nonliving things**

 

  • After the worksheet is reviewed, the teacher should introduce the lesson’s topic: ecosystems. The teacher should review the definition of “ecosystem” with the students: “A biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment” (Dictionary Definition). The teacher should provide some information about ecosystems for the students:

  • The plants and animals of a particular habitat form an ecosystem.

  • All of the plants and animals of an ecosystem depend on each other.

  • If there is a disruption in the ecosystem, it can affect all of the organisms.

  • Disruptions can be caused by: floods, storms, fires, volcanic eruptions, or humans.

  • If a new organism arrives in an ecosystem, it can also cause a disruption. The new organism fights with the existing organisms, which can result in the extinction of one of the organisms.

 

Information Source:

http://www.kidsgeo.com/geography-for-kids/0164-ecosystems.php

  • After the discussion, the teacher should show the students the picture “Fishing Polar Bear”. The teacher should begin a discussion about the picture, asking what the students notice about the picture. It is important that the teacher explain to the students that this picture, even though it doesn’t look like a traditional one, shows a food chain. The bear is hungry, so he goes fishing. He uses a worm to lore the fish because fish like/eat worms. The bear will catch the fish and eat him. The food chain looks like this:

worm - fish - bear.

  • The teacher should explain to the students that today they will are going to learn about ecosystems and food chains. At this point, the teacher should show the video: “Food Chains and Food Webs | Biology for All | FuseSchool” (Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lqhJNgn_Wg). The video is about 3 minutes long and discusses food chains, food webs, and the transfer of energy from one level of the chain to the next. After the video is over, the teacher should begin a discussion about the content/ what the students observed.

  • Next, the teacher will hand out the “All About Ecosystems” worksheet packet.  If it is possible, project each page of the “All About Ecosystems” worksheet packet onto the board using a projector or put into a PowerPoint document and project. The teacher should begin with the “Plants and Animals” worksheet. Working as a class, the teacher and the students will come up with ways plants and animals are the same and ways they are different. Provided below are some examples of similarities and differences between plants and animals.

Similarities

  • Both require water to survive.

  • Plants and animals have genders—there are female plants and male plants like there are female animals and male animals.

  • Both have cells.

  • Both have lifespans.

Differences

  • Plants can make their own food (photosynthesis).

  • Animals rely on plants and other animals for a source of food.

  • Animals can move around, run, and hunt.

  • Animals have complex internal systems (nervous, cardiovascular, muscular, skeletal)

  • Animals have 5 senses (sight, vision, taste, smell, and feeling).

  • The next worksheet that should be reviewed is “Producers, Consumers, and Decomposers”.

**The student worksheet does not contain all of this information. Use this as a guide to help explain producers and consumers more in depth to the students**

  • In an ecosystem, you have producers, consumers, and decomposers.

  • Producers: organisms that can make their own food. These include plants.

  • Plants take energy from the sun, carbon dioxide from the air, and water from the soil to create food within them. This process is known as photosynthesis.

  • Consumers: organisms that cannot make their own food. These include animals and humans.

  • There are three groups of consumers:

    • Herbivores: eat only plants.

    • Carnivores: eat only animals/meat.

    • Omnivores: eat both plants and animals/meat.

  • Decomposers: a microorganism that eats dead animals and plants. These include fungi and bacteria. As they eat the dead/ decaying organisms, they are releasing nutrients and minerals back into the soil.

Instruct the students to complete the activity at the bottom of the page. Give the students about 5 minutes to complete. Review when the students are finished.

  • Answers:

  • Producers: 2 - tree and grass

  • Consumers: 3 - tiger, lion, and baby

  • Decomposers: 2 - mushrooms

 

Information Sources:

http://sheppardsoftware.com/content/animals/kidscorner/foodchain/foodchain.htm

http://sheppardsoftware.com/content/animals/kidscorner/foodchain/producersconsumers.htm

  • The next worksheet that should be reviewed is “All About the Food Chain”. As the teacher explains, the students should fill in the blank spaces on their worksheet.

**The student worksheet does not contain all of this information. Use this as a guide to help explain the food chain more in depth to the students**

  • Food Chain: a hierarchical series of organisms each dependent on the next as a source of food (Dictionary Definition)

  • A food chain shows how living organisms depend on each other as a source of food.

  • Food chains begin with a plant and end with an animal.

  • An example of a simple food chain is: grass à eaten by a rabbit à rabbit eaten by a bobcat.

  • Producers, consumers, and decomposers are all important parts of the food chain.

  • The producers create all of the energy in the food chain. The consumers use the energy created by the producers.

  • As you move along in the food chain, energy is lost. As a result of the lost energy, organisms become less and less further down the food chain.

  • Animals that are further up in the food chain rely on the plants, even if they do not eat them. For example, a lion relies in the grass because lions eat zebras. If there wasn’t any grass, the zebras would die off and lions couldn’t eat the zebras.

  • Example: grass à rabbit à bear.

  • There is more grass than rabbits and more rabbits than bears. The rabbits and the bears use energy when they run and hunt.

  • There are many food chains present in an ecosystem. Animals and plants can be a part of more than one food chain. When you put all the food chains together, they create a food web. A food web is a system of interlocking and interdependent food chains. (Dictionary Definition)

  • Example: sun creates the tree, which is eaten by a mouse. A raccoon, a weasel, or a snake can eat the mouse.

  • Scientists have developed Trophic Levels to describe each level of the food chain. As you go up in levels, energy is lost:

    • Level 1: producers

    • Level 2: primary consumers (herbivores)

    • Level 3: secondary consumers (carnivores)

    • Level 4: tertiary consumers (carnivores)

    • Level 5: apex predators (animals that are at the top/ not eaten by another animal)

At this point, the teacher should show the students the pictures of the food chains and food webs.

 

Information Sources:

http://sheppardsoftware.com/content/animals/kidscorner/foodchain/foodchain.htm   

http://sheppardsoftware.com/content/animals/kidscorner/foodchain/producersconsumers.htm

http://www.majordifferences.com/2013/02/difference-between-food-chain-and-food.html#.WB3rszK-Jo5

http://www.ducksters.com/science/ecosystems/food_chain_and_web.php

  • After the worksheet is completed, the students will participate in an activity called “Food Chain”. Each student will get an “Organisms List” sheet and a “My Food Chain” sheet. The students will pick an organism from each category and create a food chain. The students will draw pictures of the animals. Allow the students to work for about 10-15 minutes. Reconvene and discuss when the students are finished.

  • The final assessment will be for the students to answer the question:

Think about what you learned in class today. What is an ecosystem? Define producers, consumers, and decomposers and how they relate to each other. What is a food chain? What does a food chain always begin and end with? What happens to energy as it moves through different levels of the food chain?

Time/Application
3-5 minutes
Guided Introduction

Review the class/ agenda with the students:

  • Introductory Activity: Living vs. Nonliving

  • Discussion: Ecosystems | Video | Producers and Consumers | Food Chain & Food Web

  • Activity: “Food Chain”

  • Discussion of Activity

  • Independent Assessment

10 minutes

Introductory Activity:

  • Hand out the “Living vs. Nonliving” worksheet

  • Have the students place a checkmark next to the living things; an X next to the nonliving things.

  • Allow about 5 minutes for them to work; review when time is up.

20 Minutes

Ecosystems | Video | Producers & Consumers | Food Chain & Food Web

  • Show the students the “Fishing Polar Bear”. Discuss the picture and then introduce the topic.

  • Show the students the video: “Food Chains and Food Webs | Biology for All | FuseSchool” (Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lqhJNgn_Wg).

  • Hand out the “All About Ecosystems” worksheet. Project each page of the worksheet onto the board either through a projector or PowerPoint presentation. Review the worksheets in this order: “Plants and Animals”, Producers, Consumers, and Decomposers”, and “All About the Food Chain”

15 Minutes

Activity: “Food Chain”

  • Give each student an “Organisms List” worksheet and “My Food Chain” worksheet.

  • Tell the students that they will pick an organism from each category and create a food chain

  • At the end of 15 minutes, have the students return to their desks and discuss the activity.

Closure/Assessment
15 minutes

  • As an independent assessment, the students will answer the question:  

Think about what you learned in class today. What is an ecosystem? Define producers, consumers, and decomposers and how they relate to each other. What is a food chain? What does a food chain always begin and end with? What happens to energy as it moves through different levels of the food chain?

  • Appropriate answers should include (but will vary):

An ecosystem is a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment. Organisms in an ecosystem rely on each for survival. Producers are organisms that can make their own food. Consumers are organisms that cannot make their own food. Decomposers are microorganisms that eat dead animals and plants. The three groups of consumers include herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores. A food chain is a hierarchical series of organisms each dependent on the next as a source of food. A food chain always begins with a plant and ends with an animal. The food chain has five levels, with a substantial amount of energy lost between each level.

  • If there is additional time, discuss any questions that students may have.


Individualized Instruction/Scaffolding

English Language Learners will be supported in this lesson through data-based heterogeneous grouping, verbal and written repetition of new vocabulary words, and multiple representation of vocabulary words through printed images and video.

Classifying Animals PowerPoint & Activities

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ryan@elementaryschoolscience

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