The Great Lakes have been permanently altered by invasive species, and have adjusted to changes in the ecosystem throughout history.  In these lessons, students explore Great Lakes food webs, sometimes called “food chains,” and how invasive species alter the balance among native organisms.  Students learn about how humans and other species have altered the Great Lakes.

The free lesson plans below can be taught as part of a unit about “Ecosystems.” Each lesson plan includes assessment rubrics and student journal pages. Next Generation Science Standards alignment for 3rd grade, 5th grade, middle school and high school can be found below. 

Elementary & Middle School Classroom Activities

  • Web of Life – grades K-3 Students make a web of connections between Great Lakes organisms and discuss the idea of a food web.
  • Tangled Web – grades 4-8 Students make a yarn web of connections between Great Lakes species, discuss the significance of the complexity of the web and discover the impacts of changes to the web.
  • Invasive Issues – grades 6-8 Students research and present findings on invasive species, then research and write about possible solutions.

High School Classroom Activities

  • A Great Race for Survival – grades 9-12 Students practice classification skills to understand how plants are typically organized in a field guide. Students use the information collected to create a field guide about native coastal plants.
  • Food Web Invasion – grades 9-12 Students develop a food web with ten native species and show the impact of two invasive species.

Next Generation Science Standards alignment: 

  • 3rd grade: 3-LS4-4
  • 5th grade: 5-LS2-1
  • Middle school: MS-LS2-2, MS-LS2-4 & MS-LS2-5
  • High school: HS-LS2-2

Learn more about Great Lakes In My World learning standards here.