This simple food chain is a great way to learn about life in the pond with your young children! If you’ve never studied what a food chain is or how one works, these coloring pages will help you. Many young children enjoy coloring as a hands-on way of taking in information, interacting with it, and remembering it. All you need to do is go to the Only Passionate Curiosity Store (you’ll find a link toward the bottom of this article) to download and print these coloring sheets so you can get started!
Easy Lesson Ideas for Learning About Life in the Pond
Introduce the Food Chain
The simplest lesson idea is to talk about what a food chain is as you look at the pictures with your children. Have them color the pictures with crayons, markers, or even paints. This can be a quick and easy way to introduce the idea of a food chain to your children so they can begin to understand how they work.
Discuss More in Depth
If you have children who are a little older and who need more in-depth information, talk with them about how plants and animals need food from the environment in order to live.
- Plants use sunlight, water, and nutrients from soil to make their own food in order to live and grow. Animals eat plants or other animals (or both) in order to live and grow.
- Then look at the food chain pages and talk about which of the organisms in the food chain are plants and which are animals. How do you know?
- Look at the food chain and talk about the order of the organisms in the food chain and what that means. For example, in this food chain, we’re looking at a pond. In that pond we find algae. The algae get their food from the sunlight that shines on the pond and the water in the pond. (If your children are old enough to go more in depth, you can talk about how algae make food from sunlight, carbon dioxide, water, and the chlorophyll inside their cells.) The algae are eaten by mosquito larva. The mosquito larva are eaten by fish. The fish are eaten by raccoons. When the raccoons die, their bodies decompose and go back into the earth where they then provide nutrients for plants and other animals, so the food chain can continue.
- Be sure to discuss the fact that this is just one example of a pond food chain. Talk about what kinds of plants and animals may be found in other ponds and how those food chains might look different than this one. Talk about ways they might be similar too.
Make a Food Chain
To have more hands-on fun learning about food chains, make your own! Color the algae, mosquito larvae, fish, and raccoon. (Use the small ones from the page that illustrates the entire food chain.) Then cut out strips of paper or construction paper. Glue one organism to each strip. (In other words, glue the algae on its own strip of paper, the mosquito larvae on its own strip, etc.) Then, just like you do at Christmas when you make paper chains to go on the Christmas tree, make a paper chain with the strips of paper illustrating the pond food chain!
Another way to make your own food chain is to draw it yourself! After discussing the food chain and coloring it, see if your children can remember it well enough to draw their own.
Play a Game
Create your own food chain game! Cut out the organisms from the food chain, mix them up, and see if your children can put them in the correct order. Extra points go to those who can explain the food chain after putting the pieces in order.
Or you could print out the food chain twice and create your own matching game. As your children make matches, they should explain that organism’s place in the food chain as well as what comes before and after it.
To add in some language arts, make a game of completing the handwriting practice, cutting it apart from the picture your child has colored, and helping your child learn to recognize the printed word that goes with the picture. (Take a look at the printable pages to see the handwriting practice that’s included with each plant or animal in the pond food chain.)
Read Some Books
Pond Circle by Betsy Franco illustrated by Stefano Vitale is for children from about ages 4 to 8. The beautiful illustrations and rhythmic text teach children that food chains happen everywhere–even in our own backyards. It explains that animals eat other animals to stay alive, but this fact is shared in a not-too-graphic way. Click here to find this book on Amazon.
Hey Diddle Diddle: A Food Chain Tale by Pam Kapchinske illustrated by Sherry Rogers is a fun book that teaches children about different food chains within the same ecosystem. This catchy book uses rhyming “sing song” text and lovely illustrations. And, like the first book in this list, the book allows children to understand that some animals eat others without being over graphic. Click here to find this book on Amazon.
Lake and Pond Food Webs in Action by Paul Fleisher is a wonderful book for teaching your children more about lakes, ponds, and food webs (or food chains). It includes information about animals and plants as well as how people can affect the health of lakes and ponds.