By conducting research and simulating a food web, students will take a close look at a forest ecosystem and discover ways that plants and animals are connected to each other. While this activity focuses on forests, you can also use it to study other ecosystems, such as oceans, deserts, marshes, or prairies, by substituting the appropriate information.
- Identify a food chain or food web that contains a particular forest organism.
- Create a model of the forest food web.
- Explore what happens to the food web if one of the components is no longer present.
- 200 feet of string or yarn
- Access to the Internet or resource materials about forest plants and animals
- Food Web Research student page
- Index cards
- Push pins
- Cardboard or poster board for mural
- Getting Ready: 30–60 minutes
- Doing the Activity: two 50-minute periods
- Evaluate: 20 minutes
- Select a variety of forest plants and animals that are members of a food web. You might want to choose species specific to your local area. See the chart below for some possibilities. (The ones labeled with a * may also be found in an urban forest.)
- Students will need access to the Internet or other informational materials for their research. If necessary, arrange time in the computer lab, library, or media center.
- Decide what material from the Background page to share with students. For example, you might use the suggested Discussion Questions to support a conversation on the topic, or present some of the information as part of Explain in Doing the Activity. See the Web of Life Food Web teacher page in Tools for a shareable copy of the food web.
- See Additional Resources to find other supports for teaching this activity.
|Possible Forest Plants||Possible Forest Animals|
* may also be found in an urban forest
You may use the Key Vocabulary: Web of Life student page to introduce students to the following vocabulary terms or to review or assess their mastery of these terms. Note that the definitions below are geared for students, while the definitions that “pop up” within the activity text online are geared for the teacher.
|Carnivore||An animal that eats other animals.|
|Decomposer||An organism that eats dead material and causes it to break down.|
|Ecosystem||A community of living things interacting with their environment.|
|Food chain||The order in which animals feed on plants and on other animals.|
|Food energy||Energy that organisms get from food in order to live and grow.|
|Food web||All of the connected food chains in an ecosystem.|
|Herbivore||An animal that eats plants.|
|Photosynthesis||The process by which green plants make food from sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide.|
PLT Conceptual Framework
- 3.2 Plant and animal populations exhibit interrelated cycles of growth and decline.
- 3.4 Ecosystems possess measurable indicators of environmental health.
See Standards Connections in the Appendices for a list of standards addressed in this activity.