Where does the energy in our food come from? Kids these days can be very disconnected from the source of their foods, not understanding that food is energy, and that that energy comes from the sun originally. This is a science lesson about food chains that can be part of a unit on ecosystems or as a supplement to a unit on nutrition. Use this food chain lesson with grades 4-6.
Students will identify and analyze food chains by drawing correct food chains for at least 3 ingredients from their lunches.
pencils, paper, crayons, class notes from prior classes, lunch bag packed with an orange, a ham and lettuce sandwich, and a thermos of milk.
Modeling and Teaching Procedure:
Announce that it is time for Science class, but you haven’t had time to eat lunch today, so you’re going to eat now. Sit down at the front table, and start unpacking the lunch where all can see. Start eating it. After a few bites, say, “I was really feeling low on energy! Now, I am starting to get some energy from this lunch! But where did the energy from this lunch come from? Let’s think about that.”
Do a think aloud about each lunch ingredient as you demonstrate drawing a food chain diagram for each. Emphasize how the sun is the original source of all food energy on earth, and that arrows are drawn in the direction of the energy movement.
Have students do choral work to help them remember key concepts. They listen to the question, and repeat the answers to the questions in unison:
Teacher: “Where does all food energy on Earth start?”
Students: “Food energy starts with the sun!”
Teacher: “Which direction Does the arrows on a food chain Goes?”
Students: “Arrows point to where the energy goes!”
Students will choose three ingredients from their lunch, and will draw a food chain diagram of it. Circulate as they work to make sure all are on task. Then, when students are working, ask students to vote by using thumbs up or thumbs down in answer to the following questions:
1. Who remembered to start their food chain with the sun?
2. Who made a food chain for milk?
3. Who made a food chain for meat of some kind?
4. Who made a food chain for bread?
5. Who made a food chain for a fruit?
6. Who made a food chain for a vegetable?
7. Who made a food chain for something I did not just ask you about?
Ask those kids to share what it was.
After the lesson, have students reflect on the learning experience by choosing three of the following Outcome Sentences to complete.
1. I learned…
2. My lunch …
3. A question I have is…
4. Food energy…
Follow Up Activity:
Students will check each other’s food chains and give feedback to each other. They will have a chance to fix up their food chains if they need to. Then, they can turn them in. Last, they will reread the section of the textbook about food chains using Paired Reading.