PRIMARY RESOURCES: ACTIVITY 1 - FOOD WEBS
To establish the basic principles that:
- All things are linked together in
systems of energy exchange.
- Disruption to one element in the system has
consequences for the system as a whole.
- To show this principle reflected in the
teachings of faith groups.
- Pens, pencils and crayons
- Sheets of A4 paper/card
- Reference books dealing with pond life
PART A - PERSONAL WEBS
- Divide the class into pairs. Give each pair a card with the name of a pond
animal on it. Make sure there is a good range of subjects, e.g. paramecia,
cyclops, blood-worms, flat-worms, water slaters, water-boatmen, minnows,
sticklebacks, dragon flies, frogs, newts, water-shrews, mallards, herons etc..
- Ask the children to research their particular animal. On one side of a sheet
of paper they should draw what the creature looks like. On the other side, write
some facts they have discovered e.g..
- How big are they?
- Where do they get their energy from?
- What is their life-cycle like?
- Have they any weird and wonderful habits?
- Then introduce various traumas that could disturb the life of the pond, e.g..
- It's a very hot summer and the pond dries up. What will happen
to the different animals? Some can escape, others are doomed. Which?
- Fertilizers from a farm wash into the water. Water weed grows
and clogs the pond. What will happen to the fish? Will the birds leave? When the
plants die the process of decay will deplete the pond of oxygen; which creatures
will survive (bloodworms, water slaters)? Which will die? (Eventually the pond
will dry out and even those species which thrived in the abundant decay will
- A house builder buys the land for a 'quality housing development'. What happens?
- Trees grow around the pond. In autumn, leaves cascade into the water. What happens?
- Look at the good points: the way in which the system can sustain itself
year after year - a kind of balance can be reached.
- Draw attention, also, to the different kinds of disaster that occur to the
pond. Some are 'natural', others are 'man-made'.
- The 'natural' disasters help to make the point that nothing in the world is
stable: change and uncertainty rule. All species become extinct eventually: Do
the children think that humans will join the list of the lost? How do they feel
about that? Sad?
RELATING TO FAITH
- Look at the way Buddhism understands change and decay, the passing
of all things. Read a Buddhist story such as 'The Story of Kisa Gotami' (in
Buddhist Scriptures, Anil Gooewardene, Heinemann Educational pp.26-27) who, when
her son dies, asks the Buddha for some medicine to bring him back to life. She
is told to find mustard seeds from a house where no-one has died. She can't, of
course. She learns that change and decay is inevitable, that they happen to
everything, but also that death can offer release to Nirvana.
See also 'The Death of a Teacup', (in Buddhist Tales, Sherab Chodzin, Barefoot
Books, p.68) in which a young pupil smashes his master's cup. He hides the
fragments and then asks his master 'Why do people die?'. 'That is just natural,'
says the teacher. 'Everything only has so long to live and then it must die.' At
this point the boy shows his master the broken cup.
Go on to discuss the fact that some disasters are caused by humans. Do children
think that something should be done to stop such things happening? Can they
think of such things? Even 'natural' problems can be tackled in some way e.g. if
autumnal leaf fall is cleared from a pond, the pond will survive longer.
- Judaism and Christianity are often accused of having an
exploitative attitude to the natural world (on the basis of Genesis 1.28: 'Be
fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it') Read an
illustrated version of the story of Adam and Eve - emphasising both the primal
vegetarianism and the way in which Adam (humankind) had to tend the Garden of
Read also a vision of the future; e.g. Isaiah 11: 6-9, which forsees a time when
Eden will be restored. Both Judaism and Christianity emphasise that, until this
time, humankind must be active on the side of goodness and justice.
© REEP, Graeme Watson