Nitrogen Cycle


Nitrogen Cycle introduces students to this important process that converts nitrogen into substances that are useful to living organisms. Students will discover why this process is so important to survival. They will also learn what each of the five steps are and be able to explain them to others.

In the “Options for Lesson” section, you will find several ideas for other activities you could incorporate into the lesson if you want to or have extra time. One idea is to have students create 3D models of the nitrogen cycle rather than posters for the activity.

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What our Nitrogen Cycle lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: Nitrogen Cycle teaches students about the importance of this process to life. Students will discover that it is essential to the survival of all living things. They will also learn and be able to explain what happens during each of the five steps of the cycle. This lesson is for students in 4th grade, 5th grade, and 6th 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. For this lesson, you will need construction paper or other drawing paper, colored pencils or markers, and any other material you think students could use to create their posters for the activity.

Options for Lesson

The classroom procedure page contains an “Options for Lesson” section that lists a number of suggestions for additional activities or tasks to add to the lesson. A couple of these ideas relate specifically to the activity. Students could work in pairs or small groups rather than alone. They could create 3D models of the nitrogen cycle instead of flat posters, using the construction paper and other supplies. Another suggestion is to assign a different step to five groups of students. The students will then create a short skit that details that step. As another assignment, students could research other cycles that relate to this one. One more idea is to invite an environmentalist to speak with the class about related issues.

Teacher Notes

The teacher notes page provides a paragraph of extra information regarding the lesson. It suggests teaching this lesson at the same time as others that relate to ecosystems, the environment, and so on. The blank lines on this page are available for you to write out thoughts and ideas you have as you prepare the lesson.


The Nitrogen Cycle lesson plan includes three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. Each of these will help reinforce students’ grasp of the lesson concepts and help students demonstrate what they learned throughout the lesson. The guide on the classroom procedure page describes when to hand out each worksheet to the class.


For the activity, students will use the supplies you provide to create a poster that displays the steps of the nitrogen cycle. The posters should include images and labels for nitrogen, plants, animals, decomposers, nitrites, and so on. Students can use the content pages and other sources for help. They should use arrows to show the flow the steps and include text to help explain the steps clearly. In addition, they should include a title for their posters. The worksheet provides a space that students can use to sketch a rough draft before starting on the final poster.


The practice worksheet divides into two parts. For the first part, students will match information to the correct step of the nitrogen cycle. There are 12 statements or descriptions and five steps. Students will thus use each step more than once. The second part requires students to respond to nine questions or prompts based on what they learned in the lesson.


Similar to the practice worksheet, the homework assignment splits into sections. The first section requires students to fill in the blanks for 10 statements. There are 10 terms in the word bank at the top of the page for students to use to complete this section. For the second part, students will explain three concepts as they relate to the nitrogen cycle. Finally, students will respond to a prompt that requires them to name things they can do to prevent problems that relate to the cycle.

Worksheet Answer Keys

The last two pages of the lesson plan PDF are answer keys for the practice and homework worksheets. All the correct answers are in red to make it easy for you to compare them with students’ responses. For the most part, students’ work should match the answer keys. However, there will be some variation on the second part of the practice worksheet and the last part of the homework assignment given the nature of these sections. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits these pages. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep these as reference for yourself when grading assignments.

Additional information


4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade



State Educational Standards


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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Cindy D.

Nitrogen Cycle

Just what I needed for my high school special ed students. The reading level was spot on for them.