Civilization on a Planet – Written by Brandy Watson

By Dana Holden, February 27, 2017

Grade Level

  • Elementary School


  • School Design

Subject Area

  • Arts
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Lesson Time

This activity is part of a 3 week unit. 15 days X 90 minutes.


Students will work with a group to research different types of ecosystems. They will use what they have researched and learned about from their unit 11 readers to brainstorm ways to create an ecosystem for the planet they created (JACK DITET). They will collaborate and design multiple solutions to the problem. Finally, they will create models to present the solution to the rest of the class. BACKGROUND This unit reviews what students have already learned about animals’ habitats and food chains as well as how to take care of the earth. Students will learn more about the feeding patterns among animals, including food webs, and how all living species in an ecosystem are interdependent and interconnected with each other. Furthermore, students will learn about changes to the environment, due to natural occurrences and the actions of people. Students will also learn the idiom “on its last legs” and will discover ways they can help conserve resources and protect the environment. The content students learn in this unit will serve as the basis for more in-depth study in the later grades about ecosystems and other organisms.

National Standards

Students who demonstrate understanding can: Earth and Space Science Properties of Earth Materials 45. Recognize and describe that rock is composed of different combinations of minerals (ESS-E-A1) (ESS-E-A5) 46. Describe earth processes that have affected selected physical features in students’ neighborhoods (e.g., rusting, weathering, erosion) (ESS-E-A1) 47. Describe the difference between weather and climate (ESS-E-A2) 48. Identify examples of the processes of a water cycle (e.g., evaporation, condensation, precipitation, collection of runoff) (ESS-E-A3) 49. Describe climate patterns from recorded weather conditions over a period of time (ESS-E-A4) 50. Compare and group common rocks according to their characteristics (i.e., igneous, metamorphic, sedimentary) (ESS-E-A5) 51. Identify and compare the components found in soil (ESS-E-A6) (ESS-E-A1) 52. Identify characteristics of selected fossils and explain how fossil records are used to learn about the past (ESS-E-A7) Objects in the Sky 53. Identify, in order, the planets of the solar system (ESS-E-B1) Social Studies Standard 3 – Maps and Globes Students locate and interpret major geographic features of Louisiana. Standard 5 – Government and Political Systems Students analyze the structures and function of local and state government


Students will: • Describe ecology as the study of relationships between living things and their environment • Describe and provide an example of a habitat • Explain why certain organisms live in certain habitats and how they adapt to those habitats • Describe and provide an example of an ecosystem • Describe and provide an example of a habitat • Describe how organisms in an ecosystem depend on each other and their environment • Describe what happens in a food chain • Identify the three essential parts of a food chain: producers, consumers, and decomposers • Sequence a food chain of two or more trophic levels • Classify members of a food chain as producers, consumers, or decomposers • Explain why certain organisms live in certain habitats and how they adapt to those habitats • Describe and provide an example of an ecosystem • Provide an example of a food chain in a given food web • Explain why nature and ecosystems are not static but are constantly changing • Describe the balance of nature in an ecosystem • Explain how changes in an ecosystem are caused by natural events and by humans • Explain how humans affect ecosystems and the environment • Describe and identify human-made threats to the environment • Identify different types of resources including renewable and non-renewable • Explain the importance of conservation and recycling to the health of the environment • Identify different ways to protect and restore the environment


1. Laptop/computer 2. Word wall 3. Elmo/projector/smart board 4. Chart paper 5. 3 ring binders for each group for note taking, sketching, etc. All reading materials have been included as an attachment.


Materials 1. Unit 11 Readers 2. Unit 11 Skills Workbook 3. Trii-fold poster board 4. Paper 5. Pencils 6. Crayons. Markers. Colored pencils 7. Glue (Elmers glue sticks, liquid glue, and wood glue) 8. Construction paper 9. Fabric scraps 10. Scissors 11. Thread 12. Tape 13. Cardstock 14. Glitter glue 15. Pompoms 16. Stapler 17. Plastic grocery bags 18. Toilet paper rolls 19. String /ribbon (various colors) 20. Small weights (kind used for fastening multiple balloons).


algae ecology* ecosystems* environment* habitat organisms* tolerant consumers* decomposers* food chain* food webs interdependent photosynthesis* producers* canopy diverse energy pyramid tier wetland disruptions equilibrium gradual overpopulation stable+ static devastating drought monsoons natural disaster* overgrazing periodic tsunamis agricultural endangered* groundwater invasive species leach+ pesticides smog toxic conserve* finite irreversible nonrenewable recycling* renewable stewards sustainable *The words or variations of the words marked with an asterisk are included in the Skills Reader and Vocabulary Cards.


Weeks 1 and 2 (timing may vary due to length of class period.) 1. Using teacher resources included, Complete all components of of Lessons 1-5 and 7 in the Listening and Learning Strand/Read Alouds and the Unit 11 Student Reader. This will provide background knowledge needed for students to complete design challenge. 2. The students will view that give an even deeper understanding of the vocabulary terms. You may use www.brainpopjr as well as videos by Bill Nye the Science Guy. Weeks 2 and 3 1. The students are put into groups of four. The Challenges are : a. Overall Design an ecosystem for the planet you created earlier in Unit 7. b. Group 1 – responsible for plants c. Group 2 – responsible for animals (producers and consumers)’ d. Group 3- water system e. Group 4- food web / food chain f. Group 5- animal habitat 2. Day 1-3: Brainstorming and sketching possible solutions within your group. Day 4 and 5: Collaboration and Presentation of possible solutions to other groups. Solutions are chosen on day 5. Day 6-8: Designing and Testing of Prototypes with materials listed above. Day 9: Groups present final prototypes to each group Day 10: Assessment DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Evaluative Compare and contrast ecosystems and habitats. (They are alike because they are both homes for living things; they are different because a habitat is the preferred, usually smaller, home of a plant or animal, but an ecosystem includes an entire community, usually larger, of both living organisms and nonliving things. Interactions between living and nonliving things are the important part in an ecosystem, rather than just a place that provides a home.) Evaluative How would you summarize the main ideas of today\\\'s read-aloud? (Ecology is the study of the environments of living things. Animals have adapted in ways that make them well-suited to live in certain habitats. Habitats are homes which make up ecosystems; ecosystems include living and nonliving things. All living and non-living things in habitats and ecosystems are interconnected.) Evaluative What are three essential parts of a food chain? What does each of these parts do? (Producers make their own food and nutrients through photosynthesis; consumers eat other plants and animals for food and nutrients; decomposers break down dead plants and animals.) Why do we say producers, consumers, and decomposers operate in a circular fashion? (First, energy is transferred from a producer to a consumer, then to another consumer, and finally back again to the soil where the decomposers break it down and help new producers grow.) Literal What is a food web? (complex, interconnected network of food chains) Evaluative How are food chains, food webs, human body systems, and road systems similar? What two words can be used to describe them? (They are all interconnected networks.) Inferential Algae is one example of a producer; what are two more examples? (moss, trees, plants, lichen, grasses, etc.) What is an example of a consumer, and a decomposer? (Answers may vary, but may include examples from the read-aloud such as a mouse, boar, and wolf for consumer and worms, slugs, snails, beetles, other insects, fungi, and microscopic bacteria for decomposers.) What are the three types of consumers? (herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores) Compare and contrast these three types of consumers. (compare—living organisms, animals, need food to live, etc.; contrast—herbivores mainly eat producers, whereas carnivores and omnivores eat other consumers; etc.) Inferential What happens in a food chain? (One living thing serves as a food source for another living thing.) Inferential How would you describe a food web? (multiple, interconnected food chains that overlap and form complicated patterns) Evaluative How does the phrase “balance of nature” explain the natural events that occur in ecosystems? (It means one stable, or firmly established, condition changes gradually into another stable condition with very few disruptions to nature’s cycles.) Inferential What are some examples of natural events or cycles that cause changes in an ecosystem? (living cycles such as the seasons; nonliving cycles such as the water cycle and the rock-forming cycle)


Students will be assessed throughout using handouts. Discussion questions, group participation, and presentation. Assessment, all handouts, readers, and teacher materials are included in the attached zip file.

Enrichment Extension Activities

For HOTS questions, see discussion questions. They are embedded. Within the school community, the students are beginning to practice recycling as there is a schoolwide initiative.

Teacher Reflection

These students designed a completely new planet with the following components: 1. planet 2. people 3. ecosystem 4. government 5. language 6. community 7. transportation 8. recreation Each of the above components, utilized multiple units which allowed more time and background knowledge necessary for an overall cohesive design. The students enjoyed the planning and design process. . This also built greater critical thinkers and problem solvers. The most difficult piece was implementing this design within a 3rd grade ELA class.

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