Ecosystems and Environments


Ecosystems and Environments describes how people and all living things interact with and rely on their environments. Students will discover the difference between an ecosystem and an environment and will learn how both relate to the world around them. Students will learn that many living organisms can make up a single ecosystem within an environment.

In the “Options for Lesson” section, you will find a number of suggestions to add to, or alter, the lesson. One option is to assign students a specific ecosystem to research on their own. They can gather information and present what they find to the class.

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What our Ecosystems and Environments lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: Ecosystems and Environments teaches students how living things interact in their habitats. Students will learn the difference between the two terms and be able to identify different parts of an ecosystem. By the end, they will see how they, themselves, interact with and rely on their own ecosystem. This lesson is for students in 1st grade, 2nd grade, and 3rd grade.

Classroom Procedure

Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the yellow box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area. In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand. This lesson requires no additional supplies apart from the worksheets.

Options for Lesson

In the “Options for Lesson” section, you will find some additional ideas or suggestions for extra tasks or activities or alternative ways to go about the lesson. One option is to add pairs of organisms to the activity to extend it. Another option is to have students, depending on their level, work independently on the assignments. You could use the practice worksheet as a homework assignment if you wish. Another suggestion for more advanced students is to assign a specific ecosystem to each student and have them research them further and later present to the class. They could use the internet or other resources to gather information.

Teacher Notes

The teacher notes page provides a little more guidance or direction on the lesson overall. It suggests teaching this lesson in conjunction with others about certain ecosystems, such as lesson on deserts or rainforests. You can use the blank lines on this page to write down ideas or thoughts you have before presenting the lesson to your students.



The Ecosystems and Environments lesson plan includes two content pages. The first page defines the two terms and explains the differences between them. Everything a person sees as they look around them is part of their environment. People share their environment with the other people they interact with each day. This could involve talking or playing with someone, helping someone, or eating and sharing a meal. However, these interactions are specific to the ecosystem in which someone lives.

The lesson explains that an ecosystem includes plants and animals. But it’s not the same thing as the environment. A person’s pet, for instance, is just as much a part of the environment as the birds or squirrels in the trees in their backyard. However, sharing the same environment is not the same thing as sharing the same ecosystem. The environment includes an organism’s surroundings. The ecosystem is the place where organisms interact with each other. A person’s dog would be part of their ecosystem and environment. However, if the person doesn’t interact with the birds or squirrels outside, those animals would only be part of the person’s environment.

To further illustrate this point, students will review an example of moss on a fence post. Living in the moss might be insects, spiders, other types of plants, or tiny organisms that are only visible with a microscope. All these living things interact with each other to live, grow, and survive. They share the same ecosystem. If the fence post exists in someone’s backyard, then that person and the organisms on the fence post share the same environment.

More Examples

The environment beneath a rock could contain a completely separate ecosystem of worms, tiny plants, and other living things. In other words, there are many different ecosystems in the world that are part of the same environment. Some are big and some are as small as the area beneath a rock.

A puddle is another good example of an ecosystem for several living things. There can be plants, insects, or other tiny organisms living and surviving in the puddle of water. They depend on the water and its nutrients as well as sunlight to survive. It might even benefit the ecosystem if something disturbs the puddle sometimes. The temperature of the air plays a big role in the survival of the ecosystem.

Food Chain

The lesson then discusses the roles of various organisms within an environment. In the example of the puddle, an insect may be the food source for another organism, like a spider or bird. The plants provide foot for the insects. If the puddle evaporates from heat, the ecosystem dies. Alternatively, if a new organism joins, it can change life in the puddle.

Students will recognize that the members of an ecosystem rely on each other for survival. Every ecosystem has a food chain, a path by which energy from producers can transfer to consumers and later to decomposers. The plants are always producers, providing a food source for insects and other animals. Those animals are the consumers of the plants. Decomposers break down the dead plants and animals, which provides nutrients for plants, keeping the cycle going.

The largest ecosystems or environments include rainforests, deserts, oceans, lakes, mountains, swamps, and so many more. From the smallest to the largest, every environment is affected by pollution, litter, and other manmade disturbances. The lesson closes by explaining that it is important to protect ecosystems by taking care of the environments we live in.

Key Terms

Here is a list of the vocabulary words students will learn in this lesson plan:

  • Environment: the area surrounding someone at any given time, such as a park, school, or house
  • Ecosystem: the place where organisms interact with each other
  • Food chain: a path by which energy transfers from producers to consumers to decomposers
  • Producers: the living organisms that provide food or energy to consumers
  • Consumers: the living organisms that eat producers for food or energy
  • Decomposers: the living organisms that break down dead plants and animals


The Ecosystems and Environments lesson plan has two worksheets: an activity worksheet and a practice worksheet. These will help students solidify their comprehension of the material. The guide on the classroom procedure page describes when to hand out each worksheet to the class.


Students will review pairs of organisms for the activity. There are six pairs total for them to compare. At the end, there is a single question for them to answer. Students can work in pairs for the activity if you prefer. In addition, you can add more pairs to compare to provide students with extra practice.


You are welcome to use the practice worksheet as a homework assignment instead. (Review the “Options for Lesson” section on the classroom procedure page for additional suggestions.) There are two sections for this worksheet. The first section requires students to match terms to their correct definitions. There are 10 definitions in this section. The second part requires students to fill in the blanks in a paragraph using words from a word bank.

Worksheet Answer Keys

The last page of the document is an answer key for the practice worksheet. The correct responses are in red to make it easy to compare with students’ responses. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits this page. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep this as reference for yourself when grading assignments

Additional information


1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade



State Educational Standards

LB.ELA-Literacy.SL.1.B, LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.1.4, LB.ELA-Literacy.SL.1.2, LB.ELA-Literacy.SL.1.5, LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.2.3, LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.2.4, LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.2.7, LB.ELA-Literacy.SL.2.2, LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.3.3, LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.3.4, LB.ELA-Literacy.SL.3.2

Lessons are aligned to meet the education objectives and goals of most states. For more information on your state objectives, contact your local Board of Education or Department of Education in your state.

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great lesson

my kids enjoyed very much doing it.

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Ecosystems and Environment

thanks for sharing!

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Another great lesson!

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Ecosystem and Environment

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