Beacon Lesson Plan Library

A Dog Eat Dog World

Rhonda Traweek


Students label animals as producers, consumers and/or decomposers and explain the basis of that designation. They distinguish between aquatic and terrestrial organisms.


The student understands the relationship among organisms in aquatic and terrestrial food chains (for example, the role of producers, consumers, and decomposers).

The student knows organisms that act as decomposers.


-Nature/animal magazines
-Nature tapes or CDs with recordings of water/ocean scenes and forest/woods scenes
-CD or tape player
-Poster board for each group
-Board and chalk or overhead and markers
-Internet access to Wakulla Springs/Pigeon Key/Sawgrass Web camera site (see URL for Web World Wonders in the Weblinks section)
-Large screen computer monitor or LCD projector
-Sticky labels
-Aquatic and Terrestrial Organisms on the Food Chain worksheet (see attachment)


1. Locate various magazines containing many animals and plants
2. Gather glue, scissors, poster board
3. Buy or borrow nature tapes or CDs of Ocean/Water Sounds and Forest/Woodland Sounds
4. Buy or borrow and set up tape player or CD player
5. Make labels 4-6 per group of each name: producer, consumer, decomposer
6. Set up LCD or large monitor
7. Check out site for Web World Wonders site; add any needed plug-ins; make sure it works
8. Make copies of assessment worksheet


Day 1
1. a) Introduce the lesson by having students listen to nature tapes. Listen to the ocean/water tape first. Have the students brainstorm for items heard in the recording and write these on the board. (As you write, separate the words that you would hear in an aquatic environment from those in a terrestrial environment.)
b) Repeat this process with the forest/woods tape.
c) Ask students what all the words in the ocean group have in common. (They should say they have to do with water.) Re-introduce the word -aquatic.-
d) Do the same for the other group of words. Solicit that the other group has something to do with land or forest or woods. Re-introduce vocabulary word -terrestrial.-

2. Have the students form cooperative groups. Have supplies for each group ready. Provide each group with a basket containing scissors, glue, magazines and poster board. Half of the groups identify aquatic organisms and the other half do terrestrial organisms found in the magazines. Students cut out and paste these on to the poster board. After 15 minutes, have each group stop. Each group presents the poster to the class. Each child in the group identifies an animal and tells why that animal is on their poster. (Example: -The fish is on the aquatic poster, because the fish lives in the water.-) Let each group have its turn. Take the posters up and be prepared to use them in tomorrow’s lesson.

Day 2
1. Begin with whole group instruction on the meaning of -producers- (organisms that can use the sun for food because they can carry on photosynthesis: trees, vines, shrubs, ferns, mosses), -consumers- (organisms that obtain energy by eating other organisms, either producers or other consumers: owls, squirrels), and -decomposers- (type of consumer that feeds on the wastes of living organisms and on decaying plants and animals: fungi, bacteria, worms). You can use the science text book for information and to provide visual help. Discuss the meaning of these words, giving examples and non-examples.

2. Have students get in the cooperative groups they were in yesterday. Give each group a set of sticky labels: four to six labels with -decomposer,- four to six labels with -consumer,- and four to six labels with -producer.- Return each group’s poster to them. Have them label the animals on their poster as producers, consumers, or decomposers. Allow 10-15 minutes.

3. Each group presents the poster, explaining why each labeled animal received that label. (Example: -The tree is a producer because it gets its energy from the Sun and carries on photosynthesis.-) Students correct any mislabeled animals, explaining what the correct label is and why.

4. Review vocabulary: terrestrial, aquatic, producer, consumer, and decomposer.

Day 3
1. Preparation: Set up the LCD player or large screen television. Set your computer to Web World Wonders. Check out the site in advance, making sure you have the necessary plug-ins. If you click on “Audio Tour,” it will give you an overview on how to use the site.

2. Open with a review of terrestrial, aquatic, producer, consumer, and decomposer. You can use the posters from the previous day's lessons.

3. Give an overview of the web cam at Wakulla Springs/Pigeon Key/Sawgrass: Present the web page to students; zoom in, pan the scene, zoom out, etc. Watch together and have students begin to point out animals and plants they can see on the web cam. You may let students have turns manipulating the cam.

4. Pass out the assessment. Explain the directions to the students. As they begin working, you may want to play one of the nature tapes previously mentioned.

5. As students finish, look at their worksheets and offer comments and observations. Revisions may be suggested.

This activity can be used as a formative assessmentm


Use the worksheet Aquatic and Terrestrial Organisms on the Food Chain as a formative assessment. When students have completed the worksheet, check for the following criteria:
-Student knows which organisms are aquatic and terrestrial.
-Student has explained why the organism they chose is a decomposer, consumer, or producer. Student must be specific. For example, a squirrel is a consumer because it eats nuts, tree sap, berries and many different plants.
-The two decomposers listed are indeed decomposers.

If a student has done all this, he/she has demonstrated mastery of the benchmarks.


Students should be able to identify common plants and animals.and distinguishing characteristics.

Web Links

Web supplement for A Dog Eat Dog World
Web World Wonders

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