Objective: Students will learn that all of nature's creatures and plants depend on each other for survival.

Materials: One set of wetland food web neck placards (beaver, cattail, dragonfly, duck, fish; fox, frog, grasshopper, great blue heron, lily pad; marsh hawk, mosquito, muskrat, raccoon, redwinged blackbird; snake, spider, sun, turtle, water), reference sheet and name tags

Background: Animals rely on plants and other animals for energy to survive. Plants (producers) are able to convert energy from the sun into carbohydrates. Animals (consumers), however, must consume other plants or animals for energy to survive. Those organisms (decomposers) that consume dead plant and/or animal matter can range from large animals such as turkey vultures to microscopic organisms such as bacteria. The association of plants and animals that feed upon each other is known as a food web. A healthy food web usually has a diverse group of producers, consumers, and decomposers.

Have students stand in a large circle.

Pass out the food web neck placards. Teacher will have to predetermine whether to discuss a balanced or unbalanced food web and pass out placards accordingly. Note: see attached information for examples of each.

Introduce the class to the member of the wetlands food web represented by the neck placards they are wearing.

Start the ball of string with the student identified as the sun. Students should pass the string to someone that depends upon them as a source of food. When you finish, look at the web you have created. Some students will be connected more than once. Others may only be connected to one or two sources. In an unbalanced web, there will be some students not connected at all. Teacher will need to explain that in an unbalanced web, individuals will go hungry as there is not enough diversity in the food supply.

During the game, encourage students to discuss reasons why a food web might become unbalanced and have them brainstorm for solutions to the problems they identify.

Assign students a specific plant or animal in the food web. Have them create their own movements and sounds that each would make. Have them perform their actions as part of a wetland production. Video record, and when playing back, encourage students to consider what would happen to the production if their specific part was eliminated. What would happened to the other players in the production.

Vocabulary Glossary:
Carnivores: Animals that eat meat
Food web: The association of plants and animals that feed upon each other
Herbivores: Animals that consume plants
Omnivores: Animals that eat both plants and animals
Predator: An organism that captures and feeds on other organisms

Activity adapted from: IEC Wetlands
Grade Level:

Subject Areas:
Reading, Science

SD Standards for 4th grade:
4.R.1.1; 4.R.1.2

4.L.1.2; 4.L.3.1

Classroom or Wetland

Communication, Role-Playing

Prior Preparation: Students can review the US Geological Survey poster: Wetlands: Water, Wildlife, Plants and people to become familiar with different types of wetlands. Students should review the different types of creatures that inhabit wetlands.

food web, predator, herbivores, carnivores, omnivores

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