Going deeper… food chains and webs

Key Stage 1

Science: Describe how animals obtain their food from plants and other animals, using the idea of a simple food chain, and identify and name different sources of food.

Working scientifically: Asking simple questions and recognising that they can be answered in different ways.


Food chains and webs

Download the visual resource that accompanies the session below.

Activity A

Display the WWT ‘Food chains and webs’ visual. Explain that this is a food chain. A food chain shows what eats what. Discuss what is eating what in this food chain. Ask questions such as:

What eats the caddisfly larva? (the trout).

What does the caddisfly larva eat? (waterweed). Check learners understand the direction of the food chain and the process.

What would happen if there were no more trout? (the otters would not have anything to eat so they might die, there would be lots more caddisfly larvae, as they would not be getting eaten). Discuss how living things depend on each other and how plants are always the first living thing in a food chain.

Activity B

Give each learner a plain white sticky label and go round the group allocating an animal or plant for each learner to draw. The following food chains can be used and/or use food chains learnt about in during your WWT visit:

  • Grass → grasshopper → frog → snake
  • Flower → rabbit → fox
  • Corn → rat → owl
  • Mango → fruitfly → lizard
  • Waterweed → pond snail → fish
  • Grass → cow → human

Images may need to be displayed if learners are unsure of the animal/plant or are struggling to draw it. The animals and plants should be jumbled up when allocated to learners so they do not know the food chains.

When complete, learners stick their drawing on themselves and sit in a horseshoe shape so all learners, and drawings, can be seen. As a class/group create the food chains with learners standing up and holding hands at the front. Remind learners that most animals do not just eat one thing. Encourage them to create as many different food chains as they can with the options available.

Activity C

Use a large roll of paper and encourage learners to stick their drawings, in food chains, for display. Alternatively, these drawings could be laminated and used as an ongoing interactive activity in the classroom. Arrow direction should be explained here, in order for learners to correctly display their food chains (the direction of the arrows shows the movement of energy e.g. where each animal gets it energy from, so the arrow points at the grasshopper from the grass and so on).

Less time?

Just do section A

Have a whole afternoon?

Extend section B by asking the class to identify a food chain (this could be one they have just learnt or one they may already know e.g. grass, zebra, lion). Give each learner a copy of the WWT ‘Food chains and webs’ visual and ask them to draw their own food chain next to the one on the WWT ‘Food chains and webs’ visual. They could also add a third food chain to the other side.

How are the food chains similar? How are they different?

Go outside

Standing in a group, one learner goes to a plant and shouts out an animal that might eat the plant (e.g. most plants are eaten by slugs, snails, caterpillars and beetles, grass is eaten by cows or grasshoppers, flowers by rabbits, and again slugs and snails or acorns by squirrels). Next, another learner must hold hands with them and shout out the next animal in the food chain. Continue to do this until it cannot go any further.  Now another food chain must be formed with a new learner finding another plant. Repeat until all the learners have joined a food chain. Discuss how many food chains there are all around us.

What is at the beginning of all food chains? (The sun then plants).