Primary Succession 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.

This lesson plan is a tool for helping students learn about primary succession. Students will be able to use domain-specific language to summarize the formation of new habitats following a major event.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson on primary succession, students will be able to:

  • Cite text evidence when answering questions about primary succession.
  • Summarize the process of creating new habitats after a catastrophic event.
  • Use content-specific language to describe primary succession.


90 minutes

Common Core Curriculum Standards


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to the precise details of explanations or descriptions.


Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; trace the text's explanation or depiction of a complex process, phenomenon, or concept; provide an accurate summary of the text.


Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 9-10 texts and topics.

  • NSGG.HS-LS2-6.

Evaluate claims, evidence, and reasoning that the complex interactions in ecosystems maintain relatively consistent numbers and types of organisms.


  • avalanche
  • colonization
  • decomposition
  • ecology
  • habitat
  • inhabit
  • organisms
  • pioneer species
  • primary succession
  • succession


  • Copies of the quiz
  • Copies of the lesson
  • Paper
  • Pens
  • Chart paper
  • Markers
  • Access to internet research sites

Reading & Discussion Questions

  • Preview vocabulary with students before watching the lesson.
  • Watch What is Primary Succession? - Definition & Examples as a class.
  • Pause after 0:20, ask:
    • What is primary succession?
  • Play the remainder of the lesson, ask:
    • What are some events that might precipitate primary succession?
    • After a volcano erupts and lava flows creating new land, what organisms are present?
    • What are some examples of pioneer species?
    • What is the role of pioneer species?
    • What are some more complex species that may follow pioneer species?
    • How is primary succession after an avalanche different from primary succession after a volcano erupts?
  • Ask if there are any questions, then give the students the lesson's printable worksheet to check for understanding.
  • Check the answers as a class.


Materials: Copies of lesson, paper, pens, chart paper, markers, access to internet research sites

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