The above photo is of a paper chain created by third grade students during a recent classroom activity.
The theme of this activity was “The Interconnectivity of Life,” a big word that just describes how what happens to one thing can affect another. After discussing the basic concepts each student got a name tag with a different animal (like white-tailed deer or timber rattlesnake), plant (like tree or flower), or other ‘object’ (like river or soil) written on it. After forming a circle, each student had to choose something that either they need, that needs them, or that they affect in some way. For example, a squirrel might need a tree in order to have a place to live and things to eat, and a hawk might need the squirrel in order to have food. The relationships don’t have to be just predator and prey, though! A timber rattlesnake might be related to an owl in that they share similar food sources. A porcupine and a woodpecker would both be affected if the trees were cut down. Some creatures, like bacteria, can affect everything! Each student had to choose another animal/plant in the circle, explain how they affected each other, and then toss them the string ball. Eventually, after every student was chosen, the string they were holding quite literally created a web!
After doing this activity with the students I had them write on a strip of paper something they could do to help keep the web of life healthy and thriving. We then shared with the class and I made this paper chain that they could hang up and look to for inspiration.
I had a great time with the class–they had a lot of good ideas and seemed to understand that an animal isn’t just affected by what they eat and what eats them, but by many other factors as well that might not be obvious at first.
I highly recommend this activity if you want to get your students up and moving and really having to think about how the animals and plants around them are connected. Don’t forget to make one of the name tags a ‘human’ so they can see that they are an important part of the chain as well!