Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Annotated Bib - Food Chains

It is important for students to understand how plants and animals (including humans) fit into food chains and food webs. Food chains differ depending on the environment (i.e. ocean, desert, forest, etc.) and show the food relationships between plants and animals. Food chains are part of food webs, and consist of animals that are herbivores, carnivores and omnivores. Herbivores are animals that eat only plants and carnivores are animals that eat only meat (other animals). Omnivores eat both plants and other animals.

This blog post gives both book and website suggestions that deal directly with SOL 3.5, which is about aquatic and terrestrial food chains. The books cover a range of material form the SOL, including different types of animal diets as well as various food chains in different environments. One book specifically about humans' position in the food chain and this position's effect on the environment is also included. The web resources give children opportunities to test their knowledge through activities such as putting together a food chain or food web or sorting animals into the correct type of diet.


Pleased to Eat You. By Sydnie Meltzer Kleinhenz. Illustrated by Beth Griffis Johnson. 2003. 32p. Millbrook Press, (9780761318279). 1st grade and up.

This fun book is about a young girl who meets a host of different carnivores, herbivores and omnivores and describes what each animal eats. Through the main character, the author also describes different characteristics of each type of animal, including what type of teeth they have and why healthy food is important for all animals. This book is simple to read with simple vocabulary that will not be challenging for most students to understand.

The Omnivore's Dilemma for Kids: The Secrets Behind What You Eat.
By Michael Pollan. 2009. 352p. Dial, (9780803725001). 4th grade and up.
This book is an adapted and slightly shortened version of Michael Pollan's book for adults. Pollan's book details where much of our food comes from and how food industry practices influence animals and the environment, shedding light on mans' unique position in the food chain. Although this book is likely rather advanced for some third-grade students, sections and excerpts can easily be used for research or with guidance from the teacher to allow students to delve deeper into the human impact on the world.

Prowling the Seas: Exploring the Hidden World of Ocean Predators. By Pamela S. Turner. 2009. 40p. Walker Children's, (9780802797483). 3rd grade and up.
In this beautiful book, Turner follows four predators (a leatherback sea turtle, a bluefin tuna, a great white shark and a Sooty Shearwater) through the ocean. Her goal is to show these predators' positions in the ocean's food chain while highlighting the different issues facing animals in the ocean due to environmental changes.

Food Chain. By M.P. Robertson. 2010. 32p. Francel Lincoln Children's Books, (9781845079291). 1st grade and up.
This simple yet quirky book tells the story of a mischievous young boy who flushes his pet fish down the toilet, only to follow it via the sewage pipes to the ocean where they experience the food chain in action. Ultimately, the mischievous boy ends up eating the fish that has eaten his fish (with several more steps added in) for dinner. The book presents the concept of a food chain in a fantastical yet simple way.

Who Eats What? Food Chains and Food Webs. By Patricia Lauber. Illustrated by Holly Keller. 1994. 32p. Collins, (9780064451307). K-3rd.

This book presents both terrestrial and aquatic food chains and food webs. In addition to showing what various animals eat, the book also gives activity suggestions for students to help them further understand how they fit into a food chain and where the food they eat comes from.

Web Resources
Food Chain Game - Put Together the Food Chains Correctly - This interactive game allows students to test their knowledge of food chains by putting together their own food chain. This would be a good review game for students to play at a computer station.

Food Web Game - Create Your Own Food Web - This online game allows students to test their knowledge of food webs, which are slightly more complicated than food chains. Students are first asked to separate organisms into categories including scavengers, carnivores, herbivores, producers and composers. In the event of incorrect answers, students are given a hint and allowed to try again. Once all organisms have been sorted, the complete food web is displayed.

Fun With Food Webs - Put Together the Food Web Correctly - This online game also directs students to place different animals and organisms into their correct position in a food web. There are three food webs to choose from, including arctic, meadow and pond, so that students can test their knowledge of food webs in different environments.

Animal Diet Game - This simple online game allows students to test their knowledge of the diets of different animals. When an animal is presented on the screen, the student must choose whether it is a carnivore, herbivore or omnivore. When the game is completed, students can click to learn about their mistakes to enhance their knowledge.

Please DO Feed the Animals - Game - In this online game, students are told that they are temporary zookeepers and must feed the different animals according to different diets - herbivore, carnivore and omnivore. Beneath the picture of each animal to be sorted, there is a brief description of their diet so that students can see the information if they need help.

For Teachers
VA Standards of Learning
3.5 The student will investigate and understand relationships among organisms in aquatic and terrestrial food chains. Key concepts include:
a) producer, consumer, decomposer;
b) herbivore, carnivore, and omnivore; and
c) predator and prey

Background Information from Curriculum Framework

The compiled literature and web resources give a good overview of the information students should know based on the Curriculum Framwork for SOL 3.5. Students should to distinguish between consumers (animals that eat living organisms), producers (green plants that make their own food), herbivores (an animal that eats only plants), carnivores (animals that eat only other animals), omnivores (animals that each both plants and animals), and decomposers (organisms that break down plants and animals to be used again by living things). Students should be able to identify the relationships between these participants and illustrate how they each fit into a food chain. A food chain shows part of a food web and can only herbivores, only omnivores, only carnivores, or a combination of the three. Regardless of what types of animals exist in the food chain, most food chains begin with a green plant. Students should also know the difference between predators, animals that hunt other animals for food, and prey, an animal that is hunted by other animals for food.

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