Biology Unit Update!
Ecosystems and Biomes
Food Chains & Food Pyramids
Trophic Levels & the Energy Pyramid
How different species interact (relationships between living organisms and their physical environment)
Population and Population Growth
Our Biology Packet dives deep into the study of ecology. This packet looks at organisms at the individual, population, community, ecosystems, and biosphere level. Students will also learn about the relationships between living organisms and their physical environment.
What is the difference between a biome, ecosystem, and habitat? What is the difference between a food chain and a food web? What are trophic levels? What is the energy pyramid? What is symbiosis? How do different species interact? What in the world is amensalism or antiobiosis?! These are some of the things we covered in our biology unit!
How We Started Our unit on Biomes: When we first did this unit, we started with an overview of the main biomes. The kids could come up with the names for all of them, though not the more specialized words (like taiga or chaparral.) In our biology packet, we have several different notebook pages on the main biomes. The kids did the “fill in the blank” version as we highlighted some of the main features of each biome (there’s also one that is completely filled in, one that just has the biome name and students can write in their own information, and a matching page (which my kids did a couple of weeks later):
In the packet, there are full-sized (8 1/2 by 11) photos of each biome. I chose to print 4 per page which worked well for our needs. I laminated them and cut them apart.
What are the major biomes?
- Alpine Tundra
- Boreal Forest or Taiga
- Deciduous Forests
- Tropical Savannas
- Tropical Rain Forest
As we kicked off our unit, I had the kids choose a biome and they each did research and give a 3 to 5 minute speech on what they learned. They actually loved that! LD did deserts; DD did hers on the savanna; and ED did rain forests.
How We Started Our unit on Biomes (Part 2!): We are doing this unit again with my youngest (and middle daughter). This time, we are starting with some material on ecosystems first. I added in a new worksheet about ecosystems (in general). Then we will go over the terms biotic and abiotic (ie. the physical, nonliving factors that shape an ecosystem – things like light, water, temperature, etc.) … and we’ll talk about the factors (in a general way) that can affect an ecosystem:
Biomes Sorting Cards: Recently, I added in some biomes sorting cards. Before we did this, we talked about the biotic (living) and abiotic (non-living) factors. Then we did the sorting cards with biotic (animal and plant) cards and abiotic factors (soil, temperature, length of the winter/summer and so forth).
My kids used the biomes cards as they filled out the chart on the right below.
Feeding Relationships & Biological Interactions
From there we discussed the difference between habitats and ecosystems. We talked about the difference between producers and consumers (autotrophs and heterotrophs). And, we talked about the different feeding relationships: herbivores, carnivores, omnivores, detritivores and decomposers.
There are some self-correcting review cards for these terms as well:
Our unit would definitely not have been as amazing without the breathtaking footage and fascinating stories about the animals of our planet!! We watched the BBC documentary Life (affiliate link) also narrated by David Attenborough as we studied the different biomes, feeding relationships and biological relationships. This series was the perfect complement to our studies because it really looked in depth at “some of the more colorful strategies the world’s creatures employ to procreate, evade predators, and obtain nourishment. This enthralling BBC series examines “the lengths living beings go to to stay alive.” We highly, highly recommend this documentary:
We spent time talking about food chains, food webs, and the energy pyramid.
In the last part of this unit, we spent quite a bit of time learning about biological interactions:
We start with a general discussion of symbiosis and I also introduced the animal defense – mimicry. Then we go into more detail about the different biological relationships: This relationship can be helpful to both symbionts, helpful to one but neutral to the other, or helpful to one but harmful to the other. One or both of the symbionts might entirely depend on each other for survival or they might generally live independently.
What age is the Biology Unit for? This unit is probably best for middle school or early high school. The first time we did this unit, my kids were in middle school (and my youngest was in elementary). I believe they were 12, 10 and 8 (For the most part, it was too challenging for my youngest/8-year-old at the time, though she loved the documentaries we watched and participated in the hands-on activities). If you have younger kids, you might want to do the Animal Unit instead.). We reviewed various concepts from this unit a couple of years later when my kids were 14, 12 and 10. My youngest (now age 13) will be doing this unit in-depth this coming fall and her sister (age 15) also wants to review some of this material because it was covered really quickly in her high school biology class a couple of years ago (We used Thinkwell Biology for high school biology).
Note: I wanted to let you know that I did a big update of the Biology Packet this summer. I added well over 50 pages and have new materials on ecosystems and on populations and population growth. If you purchased the Biology Packet or one the Biology Bundles previously, be sure to check your PayPal email for the update from SendOwl or send me an email and I will re-send you your download link! ~Liesl
These units are PDF downloads. Be sure to check your PayPal email address for the download link. If you have any questions or problems feel free to email me! You should get your automatic download link from SendOwl within a few minutes. If you don’t, be sure to email me if you need me to send the link to you again! Here are some answers to some Frequently Asked Questions. ~Liesl
Biology BUNDLE OPTIONS:
Visit this Biology Bundle Page for more details (and lots more pictures!)
$37.99 Biology BUNDLE of 5: 1) Biology Unit (Biomes, habitats, food chains/webs, feeding relationships) 2) Scientific Classification & Taxonomy Packet 3) Ocean Unit & Layers of the Ocean/Ocean Zone Activities 4) Cells Unit 5) Botany Unit
Don’t forget to check your PayPal email address for the download link from SendOwl (the delivery service I use)!
$7.99 Botany Packet — (80 pages) Plant Classification, Life Cycle of the Moss, Fern, Conifer, Angiosperms, Parts of a Flower, Parts of a Seed, Seed & Fruit Development, Monocots vs Dicots – plus Carnivorous Plants Mini-Unit
$8.99 Ocean Unit – Layers of the Ocean/Ocean Zone: (100+ pages) Marine Habitats, Coral Reefs, Tide Pools, Water Form Words, Ocean navigation, Features of the ocean floor, salinity, ocean tides & currents, ocean life, bioluminescence & more!
$7.99 Scientific Classification and Taxonomy Packet (100 pages) dichotomous key activity, Linnaeus & the history of classification, learn the Animalia phyla (Annelids, Platyhelminthes, Nematodes, Cnidaria, Animalia, etc.)
Again, you can see the Biology BUNDLE Page for lots more pictures!
Don’t forget to check your PayPal email address for the download link.Visit Our Store to see our other packets.
Biology: Cell Unit
Cell Unit: (Now more than 150 pages) The Cells Unit covers cell theory, prokaryotic vs. eukaryotic cells, animal vs. plant cells, the organelles of the cell, and now goes into more detail about chloroplast anatomy, the layers of a leaf, photosynthesis, and more.
Biology: Botany Unit
Botany Packet — Plant Classification, Life Cycle of the Moss, Fern, Conifer, Angiosperms, Parts of a Flower, Parts of a Seed, Seed & Fruit Development, Monocots vs Dicots – plus Carnivorous Plants Mini-Unit
Biology: Scientific Classification and Taxonomy Unit
Scientific Classification and Taxonomy Packet: (Newly updated and now over 100 pages)
In this unit, we started off by talking about why we classify things. We learned about the dichotomous key and did a number of activities to understand how they work. We talked about why classification is useful and how we can do that in a way that is organized and logical.
Then we went into more detail about the history of classification. Scientists have been grouping and categorizing different species for most of human history. In the past 300 years or so, scientists have worked on developing a logical, organized system for classifying the species around us.
All living organisms are classified by their characteristics. We keep adding to and adjusting the classification system as new evidence become available through DNA research and molecular studies! We talked about Linnaeus and his contributions to the classification of animals and his system of naming organisms (binomial nomenclature).
We talked about the current system of classification and by the end of the unit, the kids were readily able to identify the types of organisms that have been classified as Bryozoa, Platyhelminthes, Porifora and other phyla in the Animalia Kingdom.
Biology: Ocean Unit
This unit is a study of the hydrosphere — Earth’s oceans, tides, marine life (including bioluminescent critters, and more!)
In our ocean studies we explored
- Marine Habitats
- Coral Reefs
- Tide Pools
- Water Form Words (bay, estuary, lagoon, fjord, etc.)
- Features of the Ocean Floor (trench, seamount, guyot, etc.)
- Ocean Navigation (early navigation with astrolabes & the constellations, modern SONAR)
- Tides (and the phases of the moon)
- Ocean Currents (Surface & Deep Sea Currents)
- Ocean Life:
- Special Body Features
- Fish Body Shape and Movement
- Biological Interactions: Mutualism and Commensalism in the Ocean
- Deep Sea Life – Bioluminescence, Anglerfish
We also talked about the ocean zones and different layers of the ocean again (which we covered three or four years ago).
For younger student, you might want to check out the Animal Unit:
More pictures of what is included can be found here: Animal Packet!
Or you may want check out the Big Animal BUNDLE:
The Big Animal BUNDLE includes 8 packets. 1) Animal Unit, 2) World Animals Packet, 3) Rainforest Packet, 4) Life Cycles Packet, 5) Winter Packet – plus several mini units 6) the Cicadas Packet and 7) the Chameleon Packet. 8) the Wolves Mini-Unit.
These Animal Units can each be purchased individually as well.