Engage (15 minutes):
Materials: computer with Internet connection and projector for showing websites
Ask students why they need energy. (Possible answers: to be able to grow, to be able to move and think, to keep from getting sick, etc.) Remind students that they also need energy to keep their bodies at a stable 98.6 degrees. How do they get energy? They should know that they get energy from food, but where does the energy in food come from?
Watch 3-minute Crash Course Kids video, “Fabulous Food Chains.” Have students turn and talk with a partner about where the energy in food comes from. Ask students to think about whether this is true for all food chains or just the ones in the video.
Tell students you love hamburgers, but you wonder how hamburgers give you energy and where that energy comes from. Project and discuss the Energy Flow Interactive from PBS Learning Media.
Explore (20 minutes):
Materials: directions and game cards for “Energy in Food Comes From the Sun” activity from Attachments section, large bag of Skittles or 4 sheets of the carbohydrate cards printed from the Attachments section, zip-top sandwich bag and paper cup for each child in the class
Use the “Energy in Food Comes From the Sun” materials in the Attachments Section to model how plants make carbohydrates using energy from the sun. While plants use most of this energy to grow and survive, carbohydrates stored in the plant provide energy to primary consumers. Students will act out how the sun’s energy is passed from plants to primary consumers such as caterpillars and then to secondary consumers such as birds.
Explain (45 minutes – 1 hour):
Materials: computer with Internet connection and projector for showing websites, 3 computers for student use, copies of the CTP Food Chain “Cootie Catcher” for each student, markers or crayons, scissors, copies of “The Ecosystem of the Forest” passage and questions from ReadWorks.org for each student
Divide students into four groups to rotate through the following learning stations. Students will spend 10 – 15 minutes at each station.
1. Close reading group (teacher-led): Use projector and computer to display HarcourtSchool passages about the energy pyramid. Do a close reading of the passages, recording questions the students have about the text, new vocabulary, and connections using software to annotate on the passages or with sticky notes placed next to the projected passages. Following the reading, have students use the plant and animal cards from the exploration phase of the lesson to create and explain an energy pyramid.
2. Technology Station: Students work individually or with partners at computers to explore the flow of energy in a food chain with the following websites:
3. Vocabulary Development Station: Students create a Creative Teaching Press food chain “cootie catcher” to review new vocabulary.
4. Reading Comprehension Station: Students read two-page “The Ecosystem of the Forest” passage from ReadWorks.org and answer questions, citing specific evidence from the text to support their answers.
Elaborate (20 – 30 minutes):
Materials: paper, markers or crayons, pencils, picture cards from Attachments section (optional)
Students will construct a model to illustrate and explain that energy in animals' food is used for body repair, growth, motion, and maintenance of body warmth and was once energy from the sun.
They may use the picture cards from the Attachments section, or they can draw their own illustrations. Students may choose from the following types of models:
After students have constructed their models, have them present them to the class.