Pass the Energy, Please!

Just because it’s cold and snowy outside, it doesn’t mean you can’t explore nature inside…through a book! Pass the Energy, Please! is a book about nature’s food chains written to capture students’ attention to a rhyming verse.

Links in the Chain
All creatures on the planet depend upon green plants. Everybody is somebody’s lunch and each of nature’s creatures “passes the energy” in its own unique way.

In this lesson, students listen while you read aloud Pass the Energy, Please! and then work together to “put together” food chains.

Note: This lesson is adapted from A Teacher’s Guide to Nature’s Food Chains.

Suggested Grade Level: K-4


  • 3×5 cards, 32
  • White board or chart paper
  • Tape
  • Optional: chains of different sizes, weights, and thicknesses. For example, a necklace chain, bicycle chain, and tow chain.

Teacher Prep:

  • Draw 8 chains and 1 broken chain on the whiteboard or chart paper using the number of links as indicated in #3 below. Each link should be 3 x5 inches in size.
  • Write one of the following words on each 3×5 card (adapt for younger children by using pictures instead of words): green plant, seaweed, stems, gorilla, bamboo, panda, sea of grass, gazelle, cheetah, milkweed seed, mouse, snake, owl, phytoplankton, zooplankton, anchovy, seal, polar bear, goldenrod, caterpillar, spider warbler, weasel. Red fox, vulture, beetle, maggot, moth, ant, bacteria, fungus, earthworm. Note:

#1. A captivating way to begin class is to walk in wearing, carrying, and dragging a variety of different chains. Explain that each piece of the chain is called a link. Hold up the chins one at a time and ask students if they can identify their use. Emphasize how each chain is perfectly designed for the way it is used. For example, a necklace chain consists of very lightweight links so that it isn’t too heavy to wear around your neck, and tow chain is extremely thick and heavy so that it can pull a lot of weight without breaking.

#2. Tell students there is one other type of chain that you want them to know about. Show them the book Pass the Energy, Please! and tell them it’s about food chains. Pass out the 3×5 cards. Depending on the size of your class, some students may get more than one card. Tell students that they each have a “link” in a food chain. Their links will be explained during the reading of the book. Instruct them to listen carefully as you read aloud, and when they hear their link mentioned, they should hold up their cards. Explain that when you’re finished with the passage, they’ll bring their links up to the board and tape them onto the chain you have drawn in the correct order. Before reading aloud, review the links, making sure each student can read their card, especially the challenging words like “phytoplankton” and “zooplankton.”

#3. Read aloud the following pages, creating food chains on the board as you go:
3-5 (one link: green plant)
6-7 (one link: seaweed)
8-9 (two links: stems, gorilla) and (two links: bamboo, panda)
10-11 (three links: sea of grass, gazelle, cheetah)
12-15 (four links: milweed seed, mouse, snake owl)
16-19 (five links: phytoplankton, zooplankton, anchovy, seal, polar bear)
20-23 (six links: goldenrod, caterpillar, spider, warbler, weasel, red fox)
24-26 (broken chain of decomposers: Vulture, beetle, maggot, moth, ant, bacteria, fungus, earthworm)

#4. When you’ve finished reading and all of the food chains are put on the board, reread the line, “Each living thing is a link in the chain with a purpose that Nature can always explain.” Invite students to choose one of the links to research.

Common Core (ELA K-4)
Reading Informational Text:
~Key Ideas and Details: K.3, 1.3, 2.3, 3.3, 4.3

Next Generation Science (DCI K-4)
LS1. From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
~A: Structure and Function
~C: Organization of Matter and Energy Flow in Organisms

LS2. Ecosystems: Interactions and Energy Dynamics
~A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems


subscribe     Blog by Carol Malnor I love making connections: kids and nature, science and reading, fun and learning. I discovered the joy of connecting Dawn Publications' books with kids when I was a classroom teacher. Dawn's books were easy to incorporate into my lessons and the kids loved them. I used picture books with students of all ages, from primary school all the way up through 9th grade. Over the years, my relationship with Dawn changed and developed, and I authored Dawn’s Teacher’s Guides as well as writing books for children 4-14 years old. ARTICLE How to Use Creative Nonfiction Picture Books in Support of Common Core and Science ACTIVITIES Dawn Publications STANDARDS Common Core State Standards Next Generation Science Standards National Science Teachers Association Picture Perfect Science   OTHER FAVORITES Dawn Publications Children and Nature Network
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