Lesson Plan

Bison and the Food Web

Lesson Plan Image
Grade Level:
Upper Elementary: Third Grade through Fifth Grade
Lesson Duration:
60 Minutes
Common Core Standards:
4.RF.4, 4.RF.4.a, 5.RF.4, 5.RF.4.a, 4.RL.1, 4.RL.6, 5.RL.1
Thinking Skills:
Applying: Apply an abstract idea in a concrete situation to solve a problem or relate it to a prior experience. Analyzing: Break down a concept or idea into parts and show the relationships among the parts. Creating: Bring together parts (elements, compounds) of knowledge to form a whole and build relationships for NEW situations.

Essential Question

What connects you to a bison and a grasshopper?


Students will understand food webs.


You will need to find a ball of string, twine or yarn for this lesson.


Bison did not live alone on the vast grasslands of North America. In fact, they were part of a community of plants and animals called an ecosystem where everything was connected to everything else in some way. This is also called a food web.

You are part of a food web, too! When you bite down on a chicken sandwich, you are eating meat from a bird which ate grain which grew from sun and water and air.

When one prairie plant disappears, it can lead to the disappearance of 10 to 30 species of insects. Each of those insects is food to another insect or an animal like a bird or reptile. When prairie dog towns were destroyed to make room for agriculture and ranching, black -footed ferrets (which eat prairie dogs almost exclusively) disappeared.


Download Tallgrass Prairie Food Web with Arrows

Download Tallgrass Prairie Food Web without Arrows

Download Tallgrass Prairie Food Web Coloring Page

Download Tallgrass Prairie Food Web Poster

Lesson Hook/Preview

What connects you to BOTH a bison and a grasshopper?


1. Stand in a circle to create your own food web.

2. Hold onto the end of the ball of string and toss the ball (GENTLY) to someone else in the circle.

3. When you toss the ball, name a plant or animal that lives in the prairie grasslands. That person holds onto the string and tosses the ball to someone else, naming another plant or animal in the food web.

4. When everybody has ahold of a part of the web, give a slight tug and see who feels it. The web should be taut enough so that almost everybody in the circle will feel something.

5. Does anything in the ecosystem live in isolation? Do we as human beings?

1. Print out food web posters and handouts.

2. Discuss with students how some life forms are producers and some life forms are consumers.

3. Have students arrows on food web poster connecting producers to consumers. 

4. Compare student's conclusions on their food web posters with the master food web poster (the one with the arrows).

5. Discuss how a change in the food web (an increase/decrease in population) could affect other life forms in the web.


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Last updated: March 19, 2023