Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8

In this food chains lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades 3 through 8, students use BrainPOP resources to explore the relationships between organisms within an ecosystem. Students then build a virtual food web to support a selected animal using online game play.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Understand the relationships between organisms within an ecosystem.
  2. Build a virtual food web to support a selected animal using online game play.
  3. Understand cause and effect while problem solving to achieve an objective.


  • Photocopies of the animal game cards
  • Enough computers for students to play GameUp in pairs
  • LCD projector
  • Internet access for BrainPOP


food web; producers; primary consumers; secondary consumers; photosynthesis; omnivores; parasites; scavengers; decomposers


Make photocopies of the animal game cards. These cards were designed to be very open-ended, so plan how to best use them in your instruction as introductory, reflection, and/or assessment activities throughout the course of the unit of study. Determine whether to use one set of cards for each pair of students or for each group.

In preparation for this multi-day lesson, it would also be helpful to play the game yourself and get familiar with game play. In Food Fight, students choose the two animal species they want to compete. They can also choose to limit the game by length (5 or 10 minutes) or number of turns (28 or 14.) The objective is for each player to get his or her selected animal into the biome and grow its population. Students can add one species to the biome per turn by clicking on the species' card. Or, they can choose to play that turn’s “wild card,” a biome-wide event such as poachers or rain. Rolling over a card or avatar reveals information about that species' predators and prey. After a species is added to the biome, status bars around its avatar show how it is doing.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Randomly distribute one animal game card to each student in the class. Talk about the relationships between the animals within a biome, and invite students to arrange themselves in the order of a food chain. Alternatively, you could put tape or velcro on the back of the cards and have students arrange and rearrange them on a whiteboard or wall, or use push pins on a bulletin board.
  2. During the activity, facilitate the class' discussion so that students are actively constructing meaning. What happens if you remove one animal? What happens to the rest of the food chain when a new animal is added?
  3. Tell students they will be playing a game on the computer that will help deepen their understanding of food chains within an ecosystem. Introduce the topic by having students explore the Food Fight game in pairs. Instruct them to choose the 5 minute game length.
  4. Bring the class back together and debrief. Allow students to share thoughts on the game and explain the objective in their own words. What strategies did they use to build their food web? Which ones were successful? Which were not? Why?
  5. Tell students that you're going to share more information about the concepts in the game before they try a second round of game play. Explain that the Food Chains Movie will help students understand the relationships between the organisms in an ecosystem.
  6. Play the movie with closed captioning on. Then display the Graphic Organizer. Talk about the terms producers, primary consumers, secondary consumers, and decomposers. Fill out the organizer together using animals featured in the Food Fight game.
  7. Project the Food Fight game. Divide the class in half, and have the two groups of students play against each other in a longer version of the game (either the 10 minute or 28 turn option.)
  8. If students have individual logins through My BrainPOP, they’ll be able to take snapshots during game play to capture significant moments and reflect on their work. Clicking on the snapshot tool generates a thumbnail image which is stored on the bottom left of the screen. At any point during game play, students can click on their snapshot(s) and type a caption or response to a prompt, and save or submit it to your teacher’s account. Check out Food Fight Additional Features for My BrainPOP for more information and specific snapshot prompts you can give students during Food Fight game play.
  9. Use the Quiz to assess what students have learned. Or, as an alternate form of assessment and extension activity, have students create their own version of the Food Fight game using the animal cards in the PDF attachment below. Deconstruct the online game in a group discussion: What made Food Fight fun, exciting, and challenging? Guide students to use those insights to inform them as they create their own paper-based game. Encourage students to recreate Food Fight as a card game or invent their own game objective and rules.
  10. As an extension activity, have students pick an animal that is not in the game that they are curious to learn more about. They can conduct independent or collaborative research to learn more about where the animal would fit into the food web. You may want to leave this project open-ended so that students can tap into their natural areas of interest, explore ideas they are passionate about, and make connections between details that fascinate them.

Extension Activities:

Explore the Life Preservers Game and corresponding Lesson Plan to see how you can use these resources to help students better understand how species affect one another. Also be sure to check out our other Science Games in GameUp.

Downloadable Resources:

Download Game Guide PDF

BrainPOP Movies:

Nitrogen Cycle
Land Biomes
Carbon Cycle (Activity Page Answer Key)
Ecosystems (Activity Page Answer Key)
Elephants (Activity Page Answer Key)
Food Chains (Activity Page Answer Key)