Trophic Levels and Food Web Lab

I have waited through our animal block so long to get to this lab. It’s messy and a lot of work, but so much fun. Basically we built our own food web. To do so we needed plant, animal, and fungi cards. We used the cards from our game Into the Forest, which worked perfectly. You could also use the cards from one ecosystem in the game Ecologies, or you can search and find some printable ones on the web.

We didn’t use all our card, but we picked out plenty of producers, several layers of consumers (primary, secondary, and tertiary, and a fungi and death and decay card. We took painters tape and taped them all along the surrounding walls of the room. There is a lot of crawling under, so it’s helpful to make sure these are around eye level for the kids and above waist level for you. Be sure to mix the cards up thoroughly to produce the best web.

Then we each took a ball of yarn (a different color for each chain) and began making our chains. We started with the center table that acted as our sun. Then we moved to a producer, using a piece of painters tape to hold our yarn each step of the food chain. From there we moved onto a primary consumer that ate our producer. The more complicated and lengthy the chain, the more fun. I narrated this process as we went talking about trophic levels, producers, primary, secondary, tertiary, and sometimes quaternary consumers. We can’t forget the apex predators!

Each of us made several food chains using a different color yarn for each chain. When we finished we stopped to do a short ‘notice and wonder’ which is just a chance to observe and analyze the activity. The most obvious observations were that all began at the table (our sun) and most ended at an apex predator. Our apex predators had a lot of yarn connect to them.

It was a success. I could tell that my daughter was loving this lab. She crawled, jumped, and maneuvered through all the string. When I asked her if she enjoyed school today, she smiled a little smile and said, “almost.” I laughed out loud. I’ll take that “almost.”

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