Elementary Lesson Plans to Meet Next Generation Science Standards

The beginning of the school year is an exciting time for everyone. Students are rested and ready to explore new concepts. Teachers are rejuvenated from the summer and full of new ideas for their class. This back-to-school excitement extends to Population Education as well!

Back to school graphicBelow, you will find three ideas for how to incorporate Population Education lessons that meet a specific Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) crosscutting concept into your elementary classroom. Let’s hear it for a great year ahead!

NGSS Crosscutting Concept Explored: Cause and effect relationships are routinely identified and used to explain change. (3-LS2.CC.1.1)

Why is this NGSS concept important for elementary students to understand?

Understanding cause and effect is a foundational skill for students not only in the sciences but all other academic areas as well. Being able to identity and explain this concept helps students see patterns in the natural world, understand their own choices and impact on the environment, and provides them with a basis for future study of the sciences.


Lesson Plan: Panther Hunt

Grade Level: Upper Elementary

Subjects: Science, Social Studies, Math

Lesson Synopsis: Students gain an understanding of carrying capacity when they act as predatory animals in a finite area and attempt to accumulate enough food to stay alive.

NGSS Connection: In this activity, students get a simulated experience of what it takes to survive in a habitat. Through guided questioning following the simulation, they see how differing ecological conditions and amounts of food affect the ability of animals to stay alive.


Lesson Plan: Timber!

Grade Level: Upper Elementary

Subjects: Science, Math

Lesson Synopsis: In this role-playing simulation, students discover what happens to a forest when the demand for wood is greater than the supply and then graph their results.

NGSS Connection: During this activity, students explore what happens when trees are cut down too quickly and a forest is not given time to replenish itself. The discussion after the activity helps students make the connection between the level of demand for wood-based products and the health of our world’s forests.


Lesson PlanMore or Less

Grade Level: Lower and Upper Elementary

Subjects: Science, Social Studies, Language Arts

Lesson Synopsis: Students construct a word web to show the possible cause-and-effect relationships of a growing population.

NGSS Connection: This lesson asks students to think abstractly about cause and effect, making connections between new concepts (increased human population leading to more oil usage, for example) and those they are familiar with (more people leading to the need for more cars). It also highlights both positive and negative effects related to human population growth and impact on the environment, providing students with a more nuanced view of the issue.


Looking for more great standards-aligned, interdisciplinary resources for your classroom? Check out our searchable database of lessons!