3-5 Activities

Communities & Ecosystems

The South Carolina Aquarium, in partnership with teachers, has created this online curriculum for teachers to use with their students in the classroom. The curriculum theme for 3rd, 4th and 5th grade is Communities and Ecosystems. The activities teach concepts that build on this theme. All activities are based upon South Carolina Science Standards, and each activity contains background information, procedures, materials lists, standards addressed, assessments, curriculum extensions and resource lists. We hope teachers will enjoy this resource!

If you are a teacher planning to participate in our Communities and Ecosystems (Food Chains and Adaptations) virtual School Program, we recommend completing the following activities before your program. Those activities include: Communities and Ecosystems, Food Chains and Webs and Adaptations. The most important activity being Food Chains and Webs.

The Aquarium’s School Programs are virtual this school year (2020-2021). We have added at-home and virtual learning modifications to our recommended activities. Be sure to see how you can engage your students at-home and virtually with our activities!

Recommended Pre-visit Activity
At-home and Virtual Options

Students will be given clues on cards regarding biotic and abiotic factors from three ecosystems within three different regions of South Carolina. They will use those clues to determine the regional ecosystem where they can be found.

Recommended Pre-visit Activity
At-home and Virtual Options

The students will use organism cards to build a pond food chain. They will learn the name of each organism’s role in the food chain (producer, consumer, apex consumer, and decomposer). They will then take those food chains and build an interconnected pond food web to see the complex relationships between organisms in the habitat.

Recommended Pre-visit Activity
At-home and Virtual Options

Students will compare household objects to the adaptations of animals to determine how animals and plants survive in their habitats.

Students will explore the six geographic regions of South Carolina while taking special notice of each region’s elevation, average precipitation and overall basic geology.

Students will use baking goods to simulate what plants do to produce their own food. After this introduction, they will conduct an experiment to see what happens to plant leaves that are deprived of sunlight.

Students will examine and categorize different food items that people eat to learn the concepts: consumer, herbivore, carnivore and omnivore.

The students will participate in an active game in which they learn the identity of organisms in two salt marsh food chains. They will discover the roles (niches) that the organisms play in each food chain. They will also examine the way that energy flows through the food chain, including the loss of energy.

Students will conduct an experiment in which they observe: 1. the rate of decomposition of different organic and inorganic materials 2. the effect that worms have on the rate of decomposition of these materials and on soil quality 

Students will conduct an experiment on decomposition by placing different types of food sprayed with water in glass jars, sealing the jars and observing what happens to the food over time.

Students will participate in a scientific investigation in which they observe litter in the school community, hypothesize what they will collect, record data as they collect litter around the school, graph data to analyze, and generate solutions to litter pollution.

Recommended Post-visit Activity

Students will investigate and describe what the wildlife communities are like in and around their town, and what they may have been like before people started to live there. They will design and implement an action project to help wildlife communities.