Lessons for Journey North
Exploring the Sun's Role in the Living Systems
1 period and ongoing additions to chart
chart paper, markers
Students create webs that illustrate their thinking about seasonal physical
and biological changes caused by changes in sunlight. They begin to grasp
the central role of sunlight in living systems.
students have learned that sunlight makes plants grow, some animals eat
plants, and predators eat other animals. However, they may not have thought
about how these food chains and webs change with the seasons. For example,
during spring in the Northern Hemisphere, lengthening and strengthening
sunlight and rising temperatures boost plant photosynthesis, which increases
the amount of food they produce.
Ask small groups of students to make a list of five changes they think
the sun will bring about as winter wraps up and spring springs forth in
their community. Suggest they think of both physical changes (e.g., temperatures)
and biological changes (e.g., plant growth). Have the class create a master
list of these changes along with questions they have.
to review their list and discuss what kinds
of impact each physical change (e.g., ice melting, more daylight hours,
temperatures warming) might have on living things — particularly
on their ability to make or get food. Consider introducing or reviewing
the concept of food chains. You might, for instance, ask, What
do plants need to grow and thrive (e.g., sun, warmth, water)?
As they grow, what does it mean for animals that depend on plants?
For animals that eat other animals?
of Webbing Activity
(Click Image to Enlarge)
- As the
class discusses ideas, use a large piece of paper to begin to create
a Web to illustrate them; use the sun as a starting or center point
(see the example, right). Help students explore connections between
sunlight and changes
in living things as spring emerges.
- As spring
progresses, read updates from Journey North and keep a running list
of new connections students discover between sunlight and spring events.
Have them use another marker color to add these to their Web. How
can their findings help answer some of their initial questions? What
new ones do they have?
Connections — Journaling and Discussion Questions
and how would you fit animal migration into our web?
any of the new connections we made during the season surprise you?
do seasonal changes in photoperiod (day length) and the sun's intensity
affect your animal's food web?
the new connections students make and add these to the class web over
the course of their migration studies.