Interactions in Ecosystems Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

While teaching your students about various animals and organisms, this lesson plan will help your class understand how these living things interact within an ecosystem. Students will use scientific language to describe these relationships.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • compare and contrast mutualism, commensalism, and parasitism
  • correctly use science-specific language to describe relationships in an ecosystem


This lesson will take approximately 60-90 minutes.

NGSS Standards

MS-LS2-1. Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem.

MS-LS2-2. Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms across multiple ecosystems.


  • commensalism
  • ecosystem
  • homeostasis
  • mutualism
  • parasitism
  • predator-prey
  • symbiosis


  • chart paper
  • markers
  • access to internet/computer/printer
  • index cards


  • Activate prior knowledge by having students do a 3-minute quick write about everything they know about ecosystems. Provide students an opportunity to share their thoughts with the class.
  • Begin reading the lesson Interactions in Ecosystems: Types & Examples as a class.
  • Pause after the 'What Are Ecosystems?' section and give students the opportunity to add to their notes.
  • Divide students into small groups and provide each group with a set of chart paper and markers.
  • Have students create a chart titled 'Symbiosis' and then divide it into the following three sections: mutualism, commenalism, and parasitism.
  • Have groups read the 'Symbiosis,' 'Mutualism,' 'Commensalism,' and 'Parasitism' sections together.
  • Then, have each group create a poster by completing their chart using definitions, examples, and sketches. Have each group present their poster to the class.
  • As a class, read the remainder of the lesson.
  • Ask students the following questions:
    • How is the predator-prey relationship different from symbiosis?
    • Why is homeostasis important in an ecosystem?
  • Use the lesson's printable worksheet to check for understanding.

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