Ecology Lesson Plan for Elementary School

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Ecology is part of every student's life, but do they know what it means? This lesson plan uses a text lesson to teach students what ecology is and how scientists study ecosystems using fun, hands-on learning experiences to support traditional learning.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define 'ecology'
  • explain the study of ecosystems, including its purpose
  • describe the job ecologists do


1 - 1.5 hours


Key Vocabulary

  • Ecology
  • Ecologists
  • Ecosystems

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.1

Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.2

Determine two or more main ideas of a text and explain how they are supported by key details; summarize the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.3

Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.4

Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 5 topic or subject area.

Warm-Up and Preparation

  • Ask students to think of the last time they were outside - at recess, at soccer practice, on a hike - and write a short paragraph describing what they did. Model with a short story of the picnic you had over the weekend, for example.
  • When students are finished, divide them into small groups and have them share their stories with one another. Discuss:
    • What parts of nature did you interact with? For example, on your picnic, you may have fed ducks.
    • How did you use your natural surroundings? On your picnic, you may have used shade from a tree.
  • Tell students they will be acting as ecologists for today's class and preview vocabulary.
  • Allow students to share any prior knowledge of ecology.

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