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Ecosystems- Biotic/Abiotic Lesson Plan

Lesson Plan for the virtual field trip video about the biotic (living) and abiotic (non-living) parts of an ecosystem.

Lesson Plan #1:  Ecosystems: Abiotic/Biotic

Lesson Plan

Download Lesson Plan #1: Biotic/Abiotic lesson plan (PDF)


  • Submitted by:  Vince Case & Steven Henley
  • Content Area:  Science, grades 4 & 5
  • Materials Needed:  Paper and pencil & outdoor area (or window and kitchen)
  • Handouts Attached Below:   Abiotic-Biotic T-chart
  • Standard Addressed:  NGSS 5-LS2  Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy & Dynamics (see attached NGSS standards sheet for full information)
  • Skill to be Maintained:  Understanding that ecosystems are made up of two parts – abiotic (non-living) and biotic (living).  Observation skills activity
  • Essential Question:  What are the main parts of an ecosystem?
  • Academic Vocabulary/Word Wall words:  Ecosystem, abiotic, biotic
  • Brain Drain or Warm Up Activity:  N/A

Basic Lesson Description and Procedure:

  1. Students watch the video at the SMNHC
  2. Students write down the word “Ecosystem”
  3. Students learn about different kinds of systems – digestive, solar, computers - that there are parts to all kinds of systems – and human beings exists within systems – every system has multiple parts
  4. Students draw a T-chart broken into two parts (see attached worksheet)
  5. Students take a moment to look outside a window and look for natural things within the natural ecosystem (not human-made things)
  6. Students follow instructor and write down a few living (biotic) and non-living (abiotic) things grouped in categories (e.g., pine trees, sandstone-rocks, grass) and learn the meaning of the prefix “bio” (life, living things, etc.) and “a” (not, non-).  Students also learn that dead things came from living things and are different than non-living (never alive) things.
  7. Students complete an observation activity outside, with grown-ups permission, or if not possible to go outside, students look out a window and/or their kitchen, to add abiotic and biotic things to their t-chart.

Observation Activity:

With permission from a grown-up, go outside, look out a window, or look in your kitchen-home-apartment to find at least 10 more examples (in total) of abiotic and biotic things.

Lesson Conclusion/Potential Practice at Home:

Students keep their t-charts for the next segment on ecosystems from the SMNHC to help them in the next lesson.


Just about any grade level can do this lesson and activity

Abiotic & Biotic Parts of Ecosystems: Outdoor Activity


  1. Watch the Abiotic-Biotic lesson
  2. Get a grown-up’s permission to do this 10-15 minute activity.
  3. Go outside your home-apartment if safe, or look outside a window and in your kitchen.
  4. Find at least 10 more examples of natural abiotic and biotic things to add to your t-chart.
  5. You can draw pictures and write words.
  6. Remember to look for things that are naturally-occurring and not human-made things.
Abiotic (non-living things)Biotic (living things; dead too!)
Rocks/Sandstone Pine Tree
Air Dead branch