This is a lesson that, I admit, turned into something way better than I had planned. I needed a time filler activity but I also wanted students to put the concepts we had been discussing into practice. After a quick Pinterest search (obviously) on food webs and food chain activities. I stumbled ond this post from STEMmom.org. There are awesome ideas with free cards available to do sorting and organizing activities for several grade levels. I  saw terms like primary consumer, secondary consumer etc. and I immediately knew I wanted to use them! Though the post had several great ideas, I decided to take this cards and have students make their own food webs. I grabbed sheets of bulletin board paper to lay out the cards. Rather than drawing arrows, I thought using string might be fun too!

Materials.
  • 1 set of these cards per group
  • Large pieces of paper or poster board (I used sheets of bulletin board paper)
  • String/Yarn

I gave each group one set of cards and told them to make a food web with the pictures, string and labels. I didn’t really know exactly how the students would do this (and that was part of the greatness of it!) but they even better than I expected!

Immediately groups got to work cutting out the pictures, arranging them on their papers and labeling the different categories of organisms. Without any additional prompting from me, students were having in depth conversations about where to put the plants. Some questioned what they should do with the decomposers. They debated with each other how to tie in the picture of the sun when it was the source of all the energy, but not really part of the food web. As I was walking around, I hardly had to do anything but listen to their conversations and encourage them to do what they thought was best. They students were using the terms and applying our food web concepts and even self correcting among themselves! A teacher’s dream.

They ended up getting so wrapped up in the activity, this 15 minute filler turned into almost a whole class period. But it was so worth it! Because students could arrange and rearrange the different organisms, I could see they were truly understanding how food webs worked.

Once all the webs were completed, we did a “gallery walk”. Each group spent 1-2 minutes looking at each web. It was interesting to see how each web turned out differently, yet they were still correct in their thinking processes. I overheard one group say “This is the best poster. It’s messy like ours!” That particular poster and strings connecting here, there, and everywhere!

Thanks STEMmom.org for the cards and inspiration! This quick time filler activity turned into something I will definitely do again in future years!

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