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Food Chain Fun grades 3-4

Lesson Plan

Food Chain Fun grades 3-4

Grade Levels

3rd Grade, 4th Grade

Course, Subject

Environment and Ecology (Agriculture)


This activity introduces students to the concept of food chains and the terminolgy associated with food chains, including producer, consumer, decomposer, dherbivore, omnivore, carnivore, predator, prey.


habitat  The place where an animal or plant finds the food, water, shelter and space  in a arrangement they need  to survive

producer: a green plant that can make its own food through photosynthesis

consumer: an organism that eats another organism  in order to get its food

Food Chain:  The transfer of energy from one organism to the next from sun to producer to consumer, food chain is just part of the overal food web found in nature.

Food Web:  the interlocking pattern of food chains that actually occurs in nature

Predator:  An animal that catches, kills  and eats other animals

Prey: animals that are killed and eaten by predators

Herbivore:  Animal that eats only plants

Omnivore: An animal that can eats plants and animals

Carnivore: a meat-eater

Decomposer: an organism that eats the organic material that results from the death and decay of other lifeforms.




 Student will be able to:

  •  Explain the purpose of a food chain and able to give examples of simple food chains.
  •  Distinguish among the roles of producer, consumers and decomposers; give examples of each.
  • Explain how living organisms rely on other living and non-living things for survival.

Lesson Essential Question(s)

Big Idea 1a,f,g

Essential questions

What conditions need to be met in ordre or an organism to survive in its environment?

Big Idea 2f

How do the living and nonliving parts of the ecosystem interact and change over time?



one 45 minute class period


-Pictures of animals, plants and the sun  or cards with aniimal and plant and sun written on them, for example, sun, green plant, flower, mouse, frog, caterpillar, fox, bobcat, owl, hawk, deer, bear, etc.

-Several balls of different color yarn

-Wildlife of Pennsylvania Coloring Book ( attached) coloringbook[1].pdf

-Student copy pages (attached)  food chain kids page.pdf

-The book: Everybody is Somebody's Lunch by Cherie Mason  (optional)

Suggested Instructional Strategies

 (Strategies: Active Engagement, Explicit Instruction)

W:     Teacher hands out photos of animals and plants  and states, let see what all of these eat? We are going to explore food chains and food webs.

H:       Students will participate in motivational activity simulating a food web.

E:      Students will participate in making a food web

 R: Students will look at the PGC wildlife of PA book and create own food chains.   

E:        Students will express their understandings of the food chains and associated terminolgy by sharing their food chains with the class.

T:       Instruction is differentiated by the use of models, class and individual work, reading and writing.

O:       Learning experiences are organized by moving from teacher led activities to group activity to individual activity to sharing with the class.

Instructional Procedures

  1. sas use food chain.pdf

Food Chain Fun


 A food chain is the transfer of food energy from plants to an animal and then to another animal.  Most food chains start with green plants making food energy from the sun.  Then an animal eats the plant and another animal eats that animal. 

Green plants in a food chain are called producers.  They are the only part of a food chain that can transfer the sun’s energy into food.  The process by which plants do this is called photosynthesis.  Producers are usually the first part of the food chain and the animals that eat only plants are called herbivores.  These herbivores are usually the second part of the food chain and they are called first level consumers.  The final members of a food chain are either carnivores or meat eaters, and omnivores, which eat both plants and meat.  The next levels on the food chain are considered  second level consumer and then third level consumers, and so on.  As the food chain gets longer the level of energy that is passed on to each animal gets smaller and smaller.  There are many more organisms required at lower levels on the food chain because it takes more of them to supply the needed energy to animals higher on the food chain.

It should be noted that there are plants and animals that feed on dead organic materials-- these are called decomposers. Decomposers help return nutrients back into the soil which will later be used by the plants within the food chain.

A food web is the result of several food chains interacting with each other.  The following examples illustrate food chains.


Sun – tree (oak acorns) – gray squirrel – black rat snake – red tailed hawk

Sun – dandelion – woodchuck – coyote

Sun – wheat seeds – grasshopper –frog– great blue heron

Sun – bluegrass – cottontail rabbit – bobcat

Sun – corn – steer – human

Sun – plant- caterpillar- catbird-sharp-shinned Hawk


From the above examples several of the first level consumers (herbivores) could also eat other plants in the various food chains.  The second and third level consumers (omnivores and carnivores) in each chain could also prey upon lower level consumers in the other chains.  By drawing lines connecting these matches the resulting conclusion would be a food web.



(optional) Start the class by reading a passage from:

Everybody's Somebody's Lunch by Cherie Mason  IBSN  0-88448-200-6 or any other book that talks about an animals eating plants and other animals.  Then start the lesson.  To view you must open the following links.

Part 1

 Part 1:  Pass out pictures of plants, animals and 1 sun. 

Have a variety of pictures such as: grass, berries,  flower, tree, mouse, owl, hawk, songbird, caterpillar, worm, fox, snake, frog, rabbit, white-tailed deer, etc.

1. Provide each student with a picture from the above list-- can be more than 1 of the same plant or animal. Must only have 1 sun.

2. Start with the sun, have several strings of yarn pass from the sun to the plants, next have each plant (one at a time) pass the yarn to a herbivore or animal that would eat the plant, all plants should do this, Next herbivores pass yarn to a carnivore, carnivores then may in turn be eaten by another carnivore or meat eater.  Explain to students that they have just made a food web.

3. Go over the terms food chain, food web, herbivore, carnivore, producer and consumer.

4. Next conduct the activity Food Chain Fun.


Part 2 Food Chain Fun


  1. Begin by talking with the class about the different kinds of foods that they eat.  Ask them to name some of their favorite foods.
  2. Then ask the class to name some of their favorite wild animals.  Ask them what kinds of foods those animals like to eat. (For references on wild animal diets use the PA Game Commission Wildlife Notes from your local PGC Region office or access the following web site and click on “Wildlife” and then “Wildlife Notes”.

Discuss with the class the fact that some wild animals eat only plants and some prey upon other animals to survive.  When wild animals eat plants and in turn are eaten by other animals this is part of a food chain.


  1. Ask the class what helps the plants to grow. 
  2. (Answers are sun, rain, and soil)  Tell the class that food chains typically start with the sun and then move to a plant and then on to an animal that eats that plant.  Sometimes from this stage in the food chain a larger animal then eats the smaller animal and in turn another larger animal eats this animal.  When one animal in the food chain dies their body is eaten by some animals and is also recycled back to the earth (decomposed)and plants use the nutrients to help them grow.
  3. Using the coloring book, ask students to complete the food chains on the Student Sheet.   Next, have students create their own food chain. Tell students that they can use any plants, seeds, and nuts, birds or animals that they can find in the coloring book.  Ask them to try and make their food chains as long as they can.  You can use the following example and have the kids write the animal names down or have them draw the plants and animals in poster form.


Sun  _________ > _________> __________> _________ > __________


5. Ask students to write a short story using the animals and plants in their food chain.

 6.   (Optional for older students) Ask the students to choose one of the food chains on their sheet and describe where a decomposer might come into play.



1. Ask the students to find examples of animals in the coloring book who are actively participating in a food chain, that is they are drawn eating a plant or hunting and eating another animal in the picture.  (Examples could be found on the following pages: 3, 9, 10, 11, 13, 24, 26, 28, 33, 34, 39, 40, 41)


2. Create a class food web. Have several students write their food chains on the black board or a large sheet of poster paper.  Then ask them to look at each chain carefully and determine if some of the animals from the one chain might possibly want to eat some other plants or animals from the other chains.  If they do and most likely they will, have the students with chalk, pencils, or yarn connect those animals from one of the food chains with various plants and animals that it might consume from the other chains.  After each student gets to connect his/her chain the class will see that these connections form something called a food web.  ADDITIONAL.Add a  herbicide, pesticide or insecticide to the web and see what plants or animals are affected!


food chain kids page.doc  food chain kids page.pdf


This is the resource needed for food chain fun activity. If you cannot open this coloring book, please go to the PA Game Commission web page:  click on eduction then kids pages.


Formative Assessment

Formative Assessment:

  • Observe students during class and group  projects, providing feedback in order to facilitate fair and appropriate group work.
  • Provide feedback and guide student understanding during the  activity in order to help students understand components of a food chain.
  • Provide feedback to students in reviewing producers, consumers, herbivore, carnivore.
  • Observe and provide feedback to students during small group or indivual work completing the food chain sheet.

Related Materials & Resources

Activity:  Quick Frozen Critters fromm Project WILD, CEE, To find out how to obtain a copy of the book, please contact the Pennsylvania Game Commission at 717-787-1434  or go to 

Activity: Predator or Prey located on this SAS under grades 3-4 Environment and Ecology


Theresa Alberici, Sarina Hoover

Date Published

September 30, 2010
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