Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8

In the BrainPOP ELL movie, Pond Ecosystem (L3U4L2), Moby is taking Ben for a boat ride when suddenly a fish jumps out of the pond. Moby wants to keep it, but as Ben explains, taking the fish out of its habitat affects all the other living things in that ecosystem. In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades 3-8, students interact in activities about the ecosystem and food chain of a pond, and incorporate the use of prepositions and expressions that are followed by gerunds.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Illustrate, define, and describe the content-specific and academic vocabulary.
  2. Sequence and describe a food chain.
  3. Find information in the movie to answer specific questions.
  4. Apply the concept of food chains to other examples.
  5. Discuss and answer questions about the movie using gerunds.


depend, produce, consume, energy, system, ecosystem, chain, web, food chain, food web, population, pond, plant


Make copies of the Word Map Graphic Organizer for Activity 1.

For Activity 3, Food Chains, make copies of the Food Chain Image or project it for the class.

For Activity 5, Stop and Think About It, write the Movie Questions on the board or prepare handouts. Examples of questions are:
Why does Ben thank Moby?
Why does Ben say that Moby can forget about keeping the fish?
What do you think a system is? Give an example of a kind of system.
What happens in an ecosystem?
Name three things that depend on other things in the ecosystem of a pond.
Describe the same thing about a different ecosystem.
Why do we need energy?
Describe a food chain. What is the beginning of a food chain? Why is it called a chain?
Give an example of a producer and a consumer.
Describe something that can happen if there is a change in the food chain.

To highlight the grammar topic of the movie, prepositions and expressions followed by gerunds, then choose questions requiring that construction. For example:
What does Ben think this day is perfect for doing?
Why does Ben thank Moby?
Why does Ben say that Moby can forget about keeping the fish?
What do we need energy for?
What do animals get energy from? Name one part of a pond food chain (a plant, insect, fish, bird, or animal), and where it gets its energy from. Use this sentence frame: The __________ get energy from eating ___________.
Describe all parts of a pond ecosystem food chain, using the sentence frame from above.
What does Moby care about protecting?

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Word Maps. For homework, have students choose at least one of the following Academic Vocabulary words to illustrate in a Word Map (energy, system, chain, web, population, producer, consumer). For more about Word Map procedure, click here. The following day, group the students together by the word they defined. Have each group share and compare their Word Maps, and then present a summary to the rest of the class. An alternate way to do this activity is with Word Map Group Summaries.
  2. What Do You Think? To activate prior knowledge about the topic of the movie Pond Ecosystem (L3U4L2), tell the students that Moby and Ben go fishing and Moby wants to keep a fish for a pet. Discuss this idea and ask why it’s probably not a good idea. Ask the question again after the movie.
  3. Food Chains. Project the Food Chain Image on the board or interactive white board. Alternatively, print a copy for each pair of students and have them cut up the six images. Have students describe the food chain as they sequence the images. To differentiate, provide a word bank of sequence signal words and sentence frames. For homework, students can research a different food chain.
  4. Use a Gerund. The grammar topic of the movie Pond Ecocystem (L3U4L2) is prepositions and expressions that are followed by gerunds. Refer the students to the Grammar section of the movie, and the Know More feature for lists and examples. Have pairs of students use any of the examples to talk about the movie, using gerunds. For example: Ben wants Moby to forget about keeping the fish. / Ben should help row, instead of relaxing. / I think they had fun rowing the boat.
  5. Stop and Think About It. Write questions on the board about the movie, or prepare handouts (See Preparation). Pause the movie at the appropriate points for partners to discuss the answers in a Think-Pair-Share, and then share answers with the class.


  • Watch the BrainPOP Jr. movie Food Chain.  Sequence parts of a food chain in the Game and do the Venn Diagram activity in Talk About It.
  • For homework, have students find or draw 2-3 pictures each of producers, consumers, and decomposers (if they have also learned about them). The next day, put all of the pictures in one pile and play a sorting game.
  • Use Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax to teach about food chains. Many things happened because the Once-ler cut down the Truffala Trees to make Thneeds. Plants and animals were affected: The Truffala Trees were cut down. / The Brown Bar-ba-loots didn’t have any more Truffala Fruit to eat, so they had to leave. / The Somee-Swans couldn’t sing because of the smog, so they had to leave. / The Humming-Fish couldn’t swim in their pond because of the pollution, so they had to leave. / The Lorax left because there was nothing there anymore.

Some differentiated options for projects about The Lorax are:

  • Draw a picture to illustrate one of the things that happened.
  • Draw a web illustrating the different consequences of cutting down the trees.
  • Illustrate the sequence of consequences.
  • Think of a habitat or ecosystem, or make one up. Write and illustrate a mini book about how the plants and animals are affected by a change in the food chain.


BrainPOP Movies
Food Chains

Food Chain

Food Fight 
Food Chain Game