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ACTIVITY: Understanding Food Webs

NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:

NGSS Crosscutting Concepts:


The energy we get from eating food, originally came from the sun.


How do we know the food we eat was once energy from the sun?


In this three-part activity, you will:

  1. explore where your own food comes from
  2. create a food web mobile
  3. use what you've learned to create a life-size food web


Part A: Explore the Energy in Your Food:

  • Activity worksheet

Part B: Build a Suncatcher Food Web

  • Clothes Hanger
  • Creature cards and labels

  • Blank index cards

  • Single Hole Punch

  • Scissors

  • String or Yarn

Part C: Life-Sized Food Web

  • Ball of yarn or string


Part A: Explore the Energy in Your Food:

  1. Before building an ocean food web, think about what you ate today and make a list.
  2. Pick two of those food items and trace back the origin of it's energy.
    a. If it is a meat item, what did it eat?
    b. If it is a plant, where did it get it's energy?
  3. If you are unsure of the ingredients of some of your food items, find a food label and explore some of the ingredients.

Part B: Create a Suncatcher Food Web:

  1. Print out the Sunsatcher Food Web cards. <p>Fig. 1. An example food web mobile might look something like this diagram.</p>
  2. Cut out the different organism cards.
  3. Arrange the cards where you think they fit in according to their trophic levels.
  4. Tape the sun to the hanger to start off the web.
  5. Start with the primary producers - hole punch them and tie it to the hanger beneath the sun. 
  6. Continue attaching the organisms as they fit into the food web.
  7. Extension: If you want to add different organisms than provided, write your own creature card and attach it to your mobile. 

Part C: Life-sized Food Web:

  1. Now that you've explored verious food webs, create your own possible food web with different organisms
  2. Stand in a circle with your group or class.
  3. Choose one person to start with the ball of yarn - they represent the sun!
  4. Have the sun hold on tightly to the end of the string, and toss to ball to another person in the circle.
  5. Whoever catches the yarn ball represents the next level of the food web, and calls out an organism that uses energy from the sun.
  6. That person then clasps the string with one hand and tosses the rest of the ball of yarn on to another student in the circle.
  7. Continue until all students in the circle are connected with the ball of string at least once.
  8. Take a look at the web you have created!

Activity Questions:

Part A: Personal Food Web

  1. What did you learn about where your food comes from?

Part B: Food Web Mobile:

  1. Who are the primary producers? Primary consumers or herbivores? Carnivores?

Part C: Food Web Maze:

  1. Did you model a food chain or food web?
Exploring Our Fluid Earth, a product of the Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG), College of Education. University of Hawaii, 2011. This document may be freely reproduced and distributed for non-profit educational purposes.