Have you ever wondered how to explain the food chain to kids? And what about the food web? Well, you are about to learn everything from primary to secondary and tertiary consumers. And while we are at it we will make a fun craft that explains it all. Scroll down to the end of the post to watch the video.
The food chain
The food chain is a basic concept that describes who or what eats who or what. Where the food chain always has a linear structure, the food web is more complex. In essence it describes not only who or what eats who or what but also the network of different animals’ feeding relations. So what is the difference between the food chain and the food web? The food chain only follows a direct pathway of one animal. The natural interconnections of different animals make it a food web.
The food chain divides animals into decomposers, producers, primary consumer, secondary and tertiary consumer. It is a linear chain, where the producer got eaten by the primary consumer. The primary consumer got eaten by the secondary consumer and finally the secondary consumer by the tertiary consumer. Producers, also called autotrophs mostly utilize energy from the sun or inorganic compounds to create organic compounds. Photosynthesis is often the background of this concept. That is why life could not exist without the sun.
Look at this food chain infographic to understand the concept:
Meanwhile the food web is another concept. It divides the animals into the same stages explained above. There are the decomposers, producers, primary, secondary and tertiary consumers. But the food web is an evolutional concept of the food chain. The food chain only shows one linear interconnection of animals and plants. The food web on the other hand shows that most animals and plants are connected in a more complex structure. They feed each other.
Look at this food web infographic to understand the concept better:
A visual approach to teach the food chain
But how can I teach my kids the food chain? How can I explain the food web to my kids? – you ask. No problem at all. I found a clever visually approaching way to teach them.
The trick is to use paper or bamboo cups (remember: bamboo cups are better for our earth) and stack them on each other. The “lowest” cup got eaten by the “upper” cup – for example the mouse got eaten by the owl.
You can reduce the same concept with the cups to make a food web – just use strings and tape them onto the cups – it shows the different interconnections.
Check out the button below to download your free food chain/food web printable:
Examples of food chains and examples of food webs
Here are a few examples of a food chain and food webs:
Bears eat grass, acorns and tree scraps, mushrooms, frogs, snakes, rabbits, squirrels and mice.
Wild boars eat mice, rabbits, snails, mushrooms, acorns and tree scraps, clover and flowers.
Hedgehogs eat butterflies, beetles, snails and caterpillars.
Deer eat fresh flowers and grass, acorns and tree scraps.
Beavers eat acorns and tree scraps.
Wolves eat deer, wild boars, mice and rabbits.
Foxes eat mice, rabbits, squirrels, beetles, snails and chickens.
Owls eat mice, snails and beetles.
Frogs eat snails.
Rabbits eat flowers, grass and tree scraps.
Squirrels eat acorns and tree scraps.
Bees get their food through flowers.
Caterpillars eat flowers and grass.
Mice eat acorns and tree scraps, beetles and snails.
Snakes eat rabbits, caterpillars, mice, snails and sometimes even deer.
Moles eat mice, snails, beetles.
Chickens eat tree scraps, grasses, caterpillars, snails and beetles.
Beetles eat snails and caterpillars.
Snails eat grass and flowers.
Acorns and tree scraps = producers
Grass = producers
Flowers = producers
Mushrooms = producers
Check out how the food chain or food web is made
Making this craft is really easy. First, take out 25 bamboo or paper cups. You also need scissors, glue and a printer. Print out the template, you’ve just downloaded. Than print it at home or at work. Next cut out the squares along the lines and glue them to the bamboo or paper cups. Now you are ready to play.
Want to watch the instructions rather than reading them in this blog post? Have a look at the video I’ve made here. There is even a little preview how the craft works: