Visit the SC State Park Service's Web Site
program overview
mission statement
education endorsement
discover history
discover nature
program registration
Discover Carolina
program overview

Forest Ecology - Pre-site Activity/Teacher Led

Grade Level: 5
Content Area:
Life Science
Time to Complete: 30-45 minutes
Title of Program:
Create A Food Chain

South Carolina State Standards Addressed:


Identify questions suitable for generating a hypothesis.
5-1.4 Use appropriate tools and instruments safely and accurately when conducting a controlled scientific investigation.
5-1.6 Evaluate results of an investigation to formulate a valid conclusion based on evidence and communicate the findings of the evaluation in oral and written form.
5-1.8 Use appropriate safety procedures when conducting investigations.
5-2.2 Summarize the composition of an ecosystem, considering both biotic factors and abiotic factors.
5-2.3 Compare the characteristics of different ecosystems.
5-2.4 Identify the roles of organisms as they interact and depend on one another through food chains and food webs in an ecosystem, considering producers and consumers, decomposers, predators and prey and parasites and hosts.
5-2.5 Explain how limiting factors affect populations in ecosystem.

Lesson Description:

Students will create a series of food chains by selecting organisms from a list that would be typical of a forest ecosystem. This program could also be used for a post-visit activity.

Focus Questions for Students:

1. What types of producers are found in a forest?
2. Can food chains have several consumers in it?
3. How is a scavenger different from a decomposer?

Culminating Assessment:

Have the students study their cycle of food chains to see which links require specific organisms and which links can be filled by a larger variety of organisms.

Material, Equipment, and Resources:

Create a Food Chain worksheet

Vocabulary List

Forest Layer Diagram worksheet

Forest Ecology Overview

Teacher Preparation:

1. Review the vocabulary list and overview information.
2. Make copies of the activity sheet for each student or small group of students.


1. Complete the introductory activity sheet for the forest layers.
2. Discuss with students that a forest can have a variety of different food chains that creates food webs as organisms interact. These interactions take place within and between the various forest layers.
3. Have the students study the food chain diagram with the labeled “links”.  Using a similar pattern, the students are to choose various organisms from the list to make their own series of food chains.

Teacher Resources/Bibliography:

  • Nature Cross-Section by Richard Orr
  • Reading the Woods by Vinson Brown

Differentiation of Instruction:

If there will be children with special needs, English as a second language or gifted & talented, etc. - please contact Table Rock State Park before the visit. These needs can be addressed on an individual basis.

- Back to Program Overview -

Copyright 2001-2013, South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism. All rights reserved.