This activity proceeds as follows:
1. First, students complete a matching task using ecology vocabulary
2. Then students explore ecological levels of organization (using the crackers)
3. Then students create a food web/food chain using the crackers
4. Finally, students learn about the energy pyramid using their crackers (and calculate the amount of energy available at each trophic level)
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Mission to Mars is a fantastic follow-up Ecology project for Animal Cracker Ecology, in which students create a self-sustaining mini-ecosystem to feed astronauts on the long trip to Mars. It is packed with Next Generation Science Standards.
Get it here: Mission to Mars
Do you want to grade all of your students' ECOLOGY tests with the click of a button? I created a 50 question Ecology test that grades itself.
Get it here: Self-Grading Ecology Test
A. NEXT GENERATION SCIENCE STANDARDS HEREIN
DCI’s: LS2 Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
Cross Cutting Concepts: Scale, Proportion, and Quantity, Systems and System Models, Energy and Matter: Flows, Cycles, and Conservation
Scientific and Engineering Practices:
Developing and Using Models
B. SUGGESTED USES
Prior Knowledge: No specific prior knowledge is required for this activity. It fits into either an introductory, or summative assessment for Ecology
Implementing the Lesson:
Materials and Setup: There is very little setup for this activity. You will need to purchase animal crackers (or I suppose you could make little pictures of them and have students cut them out if you'd like). I have found very large bags of off-brand animal crackers for much cheaper in the grocery store or a Costco type store than buying the name brands.
Students will also need a textbook or internet access to define the words in the matching section.
The number of animal crackers that each student receives is up to you. Depending on how many students you have, you could give as few as 7 or 8, or as many as 15.
I allow students to eat the crackers at the end. Just note that they are required to trace them with a pencil. If you do not feel comfortable with them potentially touching them with a pencil, then eating them, then you might not want to allow them to eat them (maybe have an extra bag).
The activity is designed for student to work through autonomously, and figure out the terms and concepts as they go.
One of the benefits of this activity is that it's useful for many different grades. The first part (levels of organization, food chains and food webs is covered in the NGSS standards from middle school through high school. The second part (which requires students to make an energy pyramid), could simply not be printed if you aren't covering that material (just don't print pages 8 and on)
My students have a lot of fun with this activity. If yours liked it, there are more like this at my TpT store:
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