Many students may be aware that we get our food from either animals or plants but don't fully understand the idea of a food chain or the interconnectedness of food webs. Who eats what? Where does an animal's energy come from? These are the focus questions for this month's column in which students investigate and construct models of food chains or food webs to help them grasp the core idea.
This Month's Trade Books
Who Eats What? Food Chains and Food Webs
By Patricia Lauber
Illustrated by Holly Keller
Information about different types of food webs and food chains are presented in this book. Young children are encouraged to illustrate their own understanding of food chains and food webs by drawing items that they eat and how they eventually made it to their plate.
Secrets of the Garden
By Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young
A vegetable garden is planted by Alice's family each year, and as she observes this year's garden, she makes notes of the plants and how they grow, what insects arrive to nibble on the plants, and other animals and birds she sees that also take their turn by eating the insects. It occurs to her that the food chain is visible right in her own backyard.
Students at this age may understand that organisms eat other organisms but not necessarily that energy is passed through a variety of organisms in a food chain or web. Guiding questions posed by A Framework for K-12 Science Education, ask "How do organisms obtain and use the matter and energy they need to live and grow? …