Energy in Ecosystems e-unit for grades 3-5

Project Learning Tree is excited to expand our curriculum and professional development opportunities to include Energy in Ecosystems for grades 3-5. This self-contained unit of instruction is fully online, making it easy for teachers to access and use.

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Designed for 3rd-5th grade teachers, the Energy in Ecosystems e-unit investigates ways in which organisms depend on each other to survive and thrive. 

Students focus on forests (one of the largest and most complex types of ecosystems) and come to understand some of the interactions present in all ecosystems. In doing so, they learn to appreciate the natural systems on which we depend and begin to widen their circle of compassion to include all of nature. 

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Hands-On Activities

Get students excited about science through hands-on activities, rather than simply memorizing facts.

Meets NGSS Standards

The e-units are constructed around targeted performance expectations of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). 

Flexible Curriculum

Use activities as stand-alone investigations, or move through all the e-unit activities from beginning to end. 

Connections to academic standards

Project Learning Tree ’s e-units feature comprehensive, interactive connections to academic standards: Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Math, and the C3 Framework for Social Studies.

Winner of the Learning Magazine's Teachers' Choice Award

Teachers' Choice Award for the Classroom - 2019 Learning Magazine

Project Learning Tree’s Energy in Ecosystems curriculum for grades 3-5 has been selected a Learning ® Magazine 2019Teachers’ Choice Award for the Classroom winner!  

For 25 years, the Learning® magazine Teachers’ Choice Awards have heralded the very best in classroom-tested, teacher-recommended products. 

Get access to the Energy in Ecosystems e-unit

Receive access to this new supplemental curriculum in conjunction with professional development. Attend an in-person professional development workshop in your state, or purchase an online training with the accompanying e-unit for $40 from

Each e-unit contains:

  •  Detailed step-by-step lesson plans
  •  Downloadable student pages to guide learning
  •  A range of assessment tools, including pre- and post-assessments and evaluation rubrics
  •  Easy-to-understand teacher background information
  •  Comprehensive, interactive connections to academic standards
  •  A self-paced online workshop with video demonstrations of the activities and lesson planning exercises
  •  Suggestions for fiction and non-fiction books to enhance the activities
  •  Links to websites, videos, and other supplementary resources 

Teachers who subscribe to an e-unit from Project Learning Tree will have access to quality learning activities any time, anywhere.

The Energy in Ecosystems e-unit explores these essential questions: 

  •   What is an ecosystem?
  •   In what ways do living things interact in an ecosystem?
  •   How does energy flow through an ecosystem?
  •   What can individuals do to sustain ecosystems?  

This unit is designed as an introduction to ecosystems and some of the ways that organisms interact within ecosystems. 

Energy in Ecosystems cover

What teachers are saying

“This is a wonderful way to explore the many facets of trees in our environment. It is easy to do, not a huge amount of preparation, and can be done even in an urban environment.”

--Laura Baker

Teacher in Indiana

“I honestly found the unit resources to be among the most well-organized resources I have ever used.”

--Agnes Zellin

Teacher in New York

“My students and I really enjoyed all the activities. It enhanced my classroom lessons and provided a lot of great interactions.” 

--Beth Horning 

Teacher in Pennsylvania 

Get instant access to the Energy in Ecosystems e-unit for grades 3-5

Access the new e-unit
project learning tree and sustainable forestry initiative

About Project Learning Tree

Project Learning Tree helps develop students’ awareness, knowledge, and appreciation of the environment, builds their skills and ability to make informed decisions, and encourages them to take personal responsibility for sustaining the environment and our quality of life that depends on it. 

For the last 40 years, Project Learning Tree has trained 700,000 educators to help students learn how to think, not what to think about complex environmental issues.