Ecosystem webbing

Activity

This simple activity can help to illustrate how plants and animals function together in a balanced web of life. 

  • Estimated time: 30 minutes
  • Location: Outdoors & Indoors
  • School term: All year round
  • Level of experience: No experience needed
  • Subject(s): Science, Social Studies

Learning objectives

  • Introduction to the terms carnivore, herbivore and omnivore
  • Plants and animals depend on each other
  • Change in environment can pose dangers
  • Food chains and introduction to the words producers, predators and prey
  • Understand that plants make their own food and that animals get nutrition from what they eat

Preparation

Some previous discussion of different animal's diets. This could link to looking at the different functions of teeth.

Make picture cards of animals and plants, discuss how the children think they are linked.

Equipment

  • A ball of string
  • A group of children
  • Pictures of animals, plants, rocks, and water for inspiration

What next?

  • Make up a story to necessitate the removal of one member of the web (perhaps a tree falls due to flooding or is cut down for building works).
  • When it falls the tree tugs on the string and anyone who feels it will be effected, so they need to tug the string as well.
  • Eventually every member of the ecosystem will be effected.
  • Try to introduce the removal of plants, insects or animals for a range of different reasons such as; disease, flooding, drought, larger predator population, etc.

Step by step

  1. Children form a circle with the leader adult inside holding a ball of string.
  2. Ask a child to volunteer the name of a plant they know and give them the end of the string.
  3. Pose the question - who would eat this plant? Give the ball of string to the child who answers correctly (you should now have 2 children connected with the string).
  4. Ask who would like to eat the animal or insect and join on the next child by giving them the ball of string.
  5. Continue until the whole group is joined with the string and you have made an ecosystem!

Hints & tips

  • Suggest different plants, insects and animals to be considered.
  • To extend this activity you can study specific ecosytems and food chains in certain areas such as; in soil, underground, river, pond, sea, rain forest, woodland, desert, plains, sky or air. 

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