Any kid who’s ever seen The Lion King already knows a bit about food chains and food webs (“It’s the CIIIIRRRR-CLE…the circle of LIFE!”). It’s a topic that can be a bit tricky to cover, and requires a little finesse on the part of teachers. These activities help students understand how important these concepts are, and why healthy food webs and chains are necessary for the whole planet to thrive.
1. Start with an anchor chart
A food chain follows the direct path of energy between species. Food webs are more complex and involve a give and take between many organisms in an environment. This clever anchor chart helps explain the difference between the two.
Learn more: Shannon McCoy/Pinterest
2. Introduce food webs and food chains during storytime
Books are a great way to segue into discussions about food chains and food webs. Here are some of our favorites.
- Trout Are Made of Trees (Sayre/Endle)
- Horseshoe Crabs and Shorebirds (Crenson/Cannon)
- Butternut Hollow Pond (Heinz/Marstall)
- Who Eats What? (Lauber/Keller)
3. Let The Lion King explain the concept
Seriously, Mufasa’s speech in The Lion King is one of the best explanations of food chains and webs around. This video covers the idea in more detail.
4. Put together a food chain puzzle
These free printable puzzles are a fun way for kids to learn a variety of food chains. (For virtual classrooms, try a digital version instead.)
Learn more: A Dab of Glue Will Do
5. Use a paper plate to show the circle of life
Turn kids loose with a stack of magazines, or print pictures from the internet. Then assemble them into food chains around a paper plate.
Learn more: Ofamily Learning Together
6. Try some StudyJams
Scholastic’s StudyJams work for both in person and online classrooms. Watch the entertaining video, then use the self-assessment tool to check your knowledge.
7. Create food chain art
This cross-curriculum art project is so fun! Kids choose a food chain to illustrate, then represent each part of it inside the mouth of the next.
Learn more: A Faithful Attempt
8. Construct food chain pyramids
A pyramid can be a helpful way to look at food chains. Kids will have fun illustrating with their own artwork.
Learn more: Education.com
9. Have a digital Food Fight
Use this interactive game with your whole class online or in person. Teams fight it out to see which animal can create the best food web and ecosystem for survival!
Learn more: BrainPOP
10. Assemble food chain links
This very literal interpretation of a food chain is one that kids can easily do on their own, whether in the classroom or at home. All they need is paper, glue, scissors, and a little creativity!
Learn more: Science Sparks
11. Make food chain nesting dolls
Visit the link for a free printable to make these adorable ocean food chain nesting dolls. Then challenge kids to choose another ecosystem and create their own.
Learn more: Super Simple
12. Stack food chain cups
Each of these cups represents one part of a food chain. Stack them to show how they all fit together. Challenge kids to see who can stack their cups correctly in the fastest time!
Learn more: Earth Mama’s World
13. Watch a food web video
Videos are always a favorite with kids in every kind of classroom. This one does a terrific job teaching them about food webs and chains.
14. Connect the food web with rubber bands
Use a bulletin board, push pins, and rubber bands to demonstrate how interconnected a food chain can become. Use this in a classroom science station, or complete the activity together as a whole class virtually.
Learn more: B-Inspired Mama
15. Display the food web with model animals
Gather up all those toy animals and put them to good use! Try using different colors of yarn to represent predators, prey, scavengers, and more.
Learn more: Susan Evans
16. Turn the food web into a marble maze
We love how this activity turns a biology lesson into a STEM challenge! Kids will get a kick out of playing with their food webs marble mazes, so the learning never stops.
Learn more: Student Savvy
17. Walk a life-sized food web
Head out to the playground for a socially-distanced interactive food web game! Lay out cards showing all the organisms in a food web and have kids help place arrows for the flow of energy. Then, kids can walk along the web by following the arrows (at a safe distance from each other, of course) to really understand how it all interacts.
Learn more: The Science Penguin
Looking for more biology and ecology ideas? Try these 20 Wild Ways to Explore Animal Habitats With Kids.