Abiotic and Biotic


Students identify that healthy ecosystems are made up of abiotic (light, air, and water) and biotic (producers, consumers, and decomposers) components that interact to support life.


Students will be able to:

  • Define and categorize Abiotic and Biotic factors
  • Make connections between Abiotic and Biotic factors in an Ecosystem and describe how Abiotic and Biotic factors depend on each other.




Variable, depends on activity.


Look-fors to assess student learning:
Students make correct distinctions between biotic and abiotic factors.
Students defining biotic and abiotic correctly.
Students refer to the connection between biotic and abiotic factors in an ecosystem as dependent on one another.

Suggested Assessments:
Perspective Storytelling (be sure to include biotic and abiotic elements)
“Ecosystem Comparison Chart”, journal page 7
Nature’s A’s & B’s Categorization
Mind Mapping

Relevant Journal Pages: 

  • “Ecosystem Observations”, pg. 5
  • “Things and Roles in an Ecosystem”, pg. 6
  • “Ecosystem Comparisons”, pg. 7
  • “Islandwood Food Systems”, pg. 35
  • “Ecosystem Search and Find”, pgs. 42-43

Transfer of Learning:

What are some abiotic/biotic things at your desk? Bedroom? Kitchen? Parking lot at school?

AB Water Color Lesson:

Before this lesson make sure you have discussed what an ecosystem is and what biotic and abiotic mean. It could be worth asking the chaperon if the students have previous experience with watercoloring so you can gage how much time you need to spend on watercoloring techniques.

Recap the vocabulary ecosystem, biotic and abiotic. Then add that within an ecosystem we can also zoom in or zoom out and still find that there are abiotic and biotic things interacting. They are going to have an opportunity to sit on their own, choose to zoom in or zoom out of an ecosystem of their choice and watercolor it.


  • Bring the students to a space where you can circle them.
  • Explain that they are going to sit along the trail with a set of tools to record an ecosystem they can observe from their spot. Show them each of the tools they will be using and how to use them. Model using the pencil to draw the initial sketch, then use the sharpie pen to go over the pencil detail and finally the watercolor. It is important to go over how to use the water pens. If you are pressed for time make sure you model this part and leave out the others. Show them that they only need to press gently, that if they want to make new colors they can use the tray, that they must clean the brush before using the paper towel before mixing colors or using a new color.
  • Have the students line up with all their bags coats and journals in hand. Use your chaperone to help you hand out all the materials and tell them they will have 20 min to complete the task. Once they are ready with all the materials in hand, begin to walk down the trail. When you think you are far enough down the trail that the first student won’t see groups on the main trail walk by, stop and ask him/her to sit down and chose the ecosystem they want to focus on and write their name on the back. Spread out the next student far enough to not be able to see/talk to the other student. Continue to do so until they are all spread out along the trail. Ask the chaperone to walk back and forth prompt the students with the formative assessment questions. Join your chaperone in doing so. You might have to ask some students to add more detail and others to be mindful of time.

Wrap-up (15 min): 

  • As students begin to finish ask the chaperone to continue to walk back and forth while you wait for the students at the end of the trail (or where your student line ends). Give your chaperone an end time so they can bring all the students back at one time if they didn’t quite finish their work in the 20 minutes. Ask the students that come in early to label their watercolor, using the sharpie, with biotic and abiotic.
  • When all the students join you ask them to write down one example of how a biotic and an abiotic element are interacting in their watercolor. As soon as they are done they should join you in forming a circle and place their materials at their feet. Ask them to share their watercolor and how the biotic and abiotic elements are interacting with a shoulder partner. Then ask them to hold up their watercolors and if anyone would like to share theirs with the group.

Transfer of Learning: 
Ask the students:
-whether they can think of an example of biotic and abiotic elements interacting in their home community?
-why is learning about ecosystems important in the big picture?
-how does this lesson link to our paths to stewardship?

Leave Comment