Grade Levels: 6-8, 9-12

*Click to open and customize your own copy of the Carbon Cycle Lesson Plan.

This lesson accompanies the BrainPOP topic Carbon Cycle, and supports the standard of constructing a scientific explanation based on evidence of the role photosynthesis plays in the cycling of matter and flow of energy into and out of organisms. Students demonstrate understanding through a variety of projects.


Ask students:

  • How do you think plants get energy? How might this compare to how animals get energy?


  • Read the description on the Carbon Cycle topic page.
  • Play the Movie, pausing to check for understanding. 
  • Assign Related Reading. Have students read one of the following articles: “Mother Nature” or “Yuck”. Partner them with someone who read a different article to share what they learned with each other.

Step 3: APPLY and ASSESS 

Students take the Carbon Cycle Quiz, applying essential literacy skills while demonstrating what they learned about this topic.


Students express what they learned about the carbon cycle while practicing essential literacy skills with one or more of the following activities. Differentiate by assigning ones that meet individual student needs.

  • Make-a-Movie: Produce a documentary that explains how carbon contributes to the greenhouse effect.
  • Make-a-Map: Create a cycle map identifying the components and steps of the carbon cycle. 
  • Creative Coding: Code a learning game challenging players to sort objects and organisms according to the steps of the carbon cycle. 

More to Explore 

Time Zone X: Carbon Cycle: Challenge students to put historical events in chronological order in this interactive timeline game.

Carbon Cycle Game: Players transform carbon from water to sky to land in this competition game.

Related BrainPOP Topics: Deepen understanding of the carbon cycle with these topics: Earth’s Atmosphere, Climate Change, and Greenhouse Effect.  

Teacher Support Resources: