Getting into...
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

Using a small whiteboard or piece of paper, write a common animal on one side and, without the learners seeing, one type of food it eats on the other side. Examples include mouse - corn, fox - rabbit, cow - grass etc. Display the animal, say the word together with your learners and then ask:

What does this animal eat? If a learner guesses correctly, but it’s not what you have written, say ‘they do eat that, but that is not what is written on here’. Repeat with different animals. Explain that every living thing needs energy or food to live. All living things need energy to be able to move, hunt and survive. Display the WWT ‘Food chains and webs’ visual and explain that this is a food chain. A food chain shows what eats what. Talk through it e.g. this is waterweed, it is a plant that grows in water. This is a caddisfly larva. It eats the waterweed. The caddisfly larva is eaten by this brown trout. A brown trout is a type of fish. An otter likes to eat fish, including brown trout. Engage learners further by explaining that they might see some of these animals and plants on their visit to WWT soon.

What other animals might you see on your visit? (birds, frogs, insects, fish)

Activity B

Give learners a few small squares of paper each. Ask them to draw an animal on one side and what it eats on the other. Once they have drawn a few, they can then pair up and play the following food chain game: Player one holds up an animal they have drawn and their partner must guess what food is on the back. If correct, they get to keep the card. If incorrect it gets put to the back of player one’s pack and another guess can be made when that card comes around again. Each player must take it in turns. This game can also be played in reverse by showing their partner the food and they guess what animal might eat that.

Less time?

Just do section A

Have a whole afternoon?

Extend section B by gathering the learners together again, giving them a whiteboard each and writing a living thing on the board. Learners first write the animal in the centre of their board and then write something that it eats and something that it is eaten by e.g. If you write rabbit on the board, learners would write grass, because it is eaten by a rabbit and fox because a fox eats a rabbit. Challenge learners to think in both directions and begin discussing how to present this on their board e.g. writing them in an order or writing one below/above another. If appropriate at this stage, explain the additional information about arrow direction on a food chain (the direction of each arrow shows the movement of energy i.e. where each animal gets its energy from, so the arrow points at the grasshopper from the grass and so on).

Go outside

Play ‘Who eats what?’ Split the learners into two groups (woodlice and toads). Give all the woodlice a sash or a bib. Lay cones (or other appropriate PE items) on the ground to represent plants. Lay a hula hoop on the ground next to the teacher. On the teacher's command the woodlice should collect as many plants (cones) to eat as possible by bringing ONE plant back to the hula hoop at a time. On the teacher’s second command (a few seconds later) the toads are allowed to leave the sidelines of the game and attempt to ‘eat’ (tag) as many woodlice as they can. When a woodlouse has been ‘eaten’, that learner is ‘out’ and must freeze for the remainder of that round. Repeat a few times so the learners become familiar with the game. Now experiment by changing the ratio of plants, woodlice and toads e.g. explain that the toad population has increased. Make some of the woodlice give up their sash/bib and become a toad. Ask learners how these changes affect the food chain.

Can you predict how the game will go now there are more toads? Play a few rounds.

What effect did the increase in toads have on the woodlice? Now make most toads into woodlice.

How does this change the game? How about if you increase or decrease the amount of plants?