The Sun Gives Energy to the Earth | Juan Cabrillo

A great way to observe the life in a garden is to discuss the Garden Food Chain. Many of my students have already been exposed to this but it was great for them to learn it in a Nature setting. Gleaning from their memories, I volunteered their help in creating a 5-step example of a food chain.


I began with the question: “Do you know where we get our energy from?” One-by-one, we filled in the diagram, beginning with the Sun and ending with Humans. We discussed a TON of vocabulary: Primary, Secondary and Tertiary consumers. Herbivore, Carnivore and Omnivore. Photosynthesis. The students learned that the order of the chain is smallest creature to largest and that the consumers only eat the next consumer in line, not the previous one (e.g. a lizard eats a butterfly but a butterfly does NOT eat a lizard). They were also surprised to find that humans eat birds, haha 😀 We drew arrows in the direction the energy was being passed. We discovered that, based on our diagram, it takes 5 steps for humans to get energy from the sun.

Afterwards, we went into the garden to find two steps of the garden food chain in real life. The students did a great job!

one student, showing me her work

one student, showing me her work

2 steps: sun --> basil --> moth (picture by Hope Cox)

2 steps: sun –> basil –> moth (picture by Hope Cox)

Hope Cox

Hope is an urban farmer, garden educator and foodie transplanted from Tennessee to SoCal in 2014. She hopes to move out of the big city one day to pursue the life of a sustainable farmer; but in the meantime loves to teach elementary kids about how food is grown, nutritious and tasty recipes and connecting with nature.