Cooperative Lesson: Create a Food Web

T2T Contributor: Barbara Braxton, Teacher Librarian, Palmerston District Primary School, Palmerston ACT 2913, Australia

This is a variation of a game called Web of Life. You need a fairly large area, some labels for herbivores, carnivores, omnivores, and one label for man, another for plant and several large balls of wool [yarn] in different colours.

The labels for the herbivores, carnivores and omnivores are broken down into specific species from different habitats to represent the creatures from smallest to largest on the particular food chain. eg: shark > seal > large fish > small fish > crustacean > coral. Have groups of children decide on the representatives of each chain and make the labels from cards which can be hung around a player’s neck.

Each player wears a card and the largest of each type has the ball of wool. This player then has to ‘catch’ his most likely food source from the remaining players based on size. So the shark might catch the seal. The shark holds one end of the wool (leaving a couple of metres dangling) stays still and then passes the ball to the seal who then has to catch ‘large fish’ while still being linked via the wool to the shark. Don’t break this wool link. Then, the large fish has the ball of wool and catches small fish and so on down the food chain until all are linked by the strand of wool. (Creatures that get eaten by omnivores may hold more than one coloured length of wool so the interdependence is demonstrated.)

When all the links have been established, man gathers up the ends of the wool of those large creatures that he eats (even if not in your culture, so that lion may be food for African man) and plant gathers up the strands of all those that eat something derived from plants.

What you should find is that Man stands at one end with a number of strands of wool, in the middle are all the creatures with strands of wool going every which way like a web, and plant at the other end holding all the strands. Picture a diamond shape with man and plant at the points.

It really helps the kids understand the interdependence of all of us.

A variation on the food web comes from T2T Contributor, Karen Kenny, who suggests reading the story Wolf Island. “Have the students each be something in the food chain – they are all joined in the beginning (holding string) together. As the story unfolds each item lets go. It’s a wonderful interaction and the students love it.” Plan ahead and make cards based on the story, then read Wolf Island while following Karen’s instructions.