Bringing Your Classroom to Life With Life Cycles and Food Chains

  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

As we begin to wind down the school year, we have started to plan for exciting activities that tie into our science and social studies units and that can be neglected during the school year. Doing these types of activities can relieve some of the stress that students feel during testing. This week we share some ideas that go right along with life cycles and food chains.



As you know by now, we always start by picking out those key vocabulary words that we feel are crucial for solid comprehension. The words you choose will depend on the animals you decide to highlight and the food chains you focus on. Here are just a few of the ones we chose:  












Remember, you can check out some of the ways we introduce and teach vocabulary in a previous post.


Hungry Caterpillars

Cutting and coloring is a great way to get the wiggles out after sitting still for hours during testing.  For this activity, which ties in the use of transition words, writing, and story sequencing, we used The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. After reading the book, we created time lines, using The Very Hungry Caterpillar clip art from Scholastic Printables. Students started by coloring and cutting out the caterpillar, the leaf, and food pictures of their choice. We drew pictures of ten different food items that were introduced in the story, and then made photocopies. For their stories, students were asked to choose six different  food items. On a long sheet of construction paper, they wrote about what the caterpillar ate each day of the week. 

This is a good time to talk about synonyms. We decided to make a class list of words that are synonymous to the word "eat." We came up with words like "munched," "crunched," "nibbled," "gnawed," and many more. The student time line visits each day of the week, starting with Sunday, when the caterpillar comes out of his chrysalis, and ending with Saturday, when he crunches through the student’s choice of food. For a little added fun, we had the students use a hole punch to punch a hole in their food items.


Life Cycles and Food Chains

More coloring, cutting, and pasting! Using a variety of Scholastic printables and reproducibles we created ourselves, we created life cycle puzzles and food chain mobiles. You can make several different food chains for a variety of habitats and allow the students to decide which ones they prefer to put together.  We always make sure that there are five cards for each mobile.  One card is blank to allow the students to draw the sun, water, and soil. The other cards include a plant, the omnivore, and two other progressively larger animals. For example, we have one template that contains grass, a rabbit, a snake, and an owl. This helps them visualize that the bigger the animal, the bigger the predator is (in most cases).

Students love to hang the mobiles around the room. This makes things a little brighter during testing when all the walls are covered with butcher paper.  


Who’s Your Momma?

“What do you mean they are not just called 'kids' or 'babies'?”  “What is a 'cria'?” (It’s a baby llama!) We hear these things every time we pull out this activity.  We make a chart of all our favorite animals (and those we know that have unusual baby names) and we write down what the adults are called and what the babies are named.  You can go a little farther and add male adults, female adults, or group names.  We like to keep it simple and stick with the mommas and the babies. 

After making the chart, we put our students in groups and have them each draw pictures of the mommas and babies.  Then they cut the pictures out, glue them onto construction paper, write the names of the adults and babies, and the next thing you know, you have a student-created memory game! (By the way, this winning strategy can be used for the vocabulary words and their definitions as well.)


We would love to hear some of your ideas! What are some of your favorite life cycle or food chain activities?



very intresting

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