Food Fight

Type Category
Assessment Materials Instructional Materials
Interactive Simulation , Game
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be "fully aligned," the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.




This game can be played by one or two players. Each player chooses an animal and then has to build a habitat with an ecosystem that will let them survive and thrive. Food Fight has a feature called SnapThought ™  that allows the student to take five screenshots during the game, and then explain their reasoning for making a move after the game has ended. By watching the student play the interactive game and examining the SnapThought explanations, the teacher can assess if the student understands the concept of a balanced food web and healthy habitat.


Intended Audience

Educational Level
  • Upper Elementary
Access Restrictions

Available by subscription - The right to view and/or download material, often for a set period of time, by way of a financial agreement between rights holders and authorized users.

Performance Expectations

5-LS2-1 Develop a model to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment.

Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on the idea that matter that is not food (air, water, decomposed materials in soil) is changed by plants into matter that is food. Examples of systems could include organisms, ecosystems, and the Earth.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include molecular explanations.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
The students add plants and animals to the environment to build a healthy food chain. If they do not support their animal properly, it perishes. Decomposers are not addressed in this game, so the teacher would need to emphasize that once the animal dies, it does not just disappear like in the game, but is eaten by decomposers and the matter is returned to the ecosystem.

3-LS4-3 Construct an argument with evidence that in a particular habitat some organisms can survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all.

Clarification Statement: Examples of evidence could include needs and characteristics of the organisms and habitats involved. The organisms and their habitat make up a system in which the parts depend on each other.

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource was not designed to build towards this performance expectation, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
Students must create a habitat to sustain their animal, while trying to undermine the habitat for their competitor so that the competitor's animal does not thrive. Students that take the time to build a habitat with a good foundation will do well, while students who rush to score points and build a minimal foundation will find that their animal will survive less well, or not survive at all.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
A habitat provides a living thing with everything it needs to survive. Living things require different types and amounts of food, water, shelter, and space. Living things can only grow in suitable habitats that supply all of their needs. At this age, students should examine the survival needs of different organisms and consider how the conditions in particular habitats can limit what kind of living things can survive. This game allows the student to observe cause and effect relationships among organisms within a model habitat that they create as the game progresses.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Students can clearly see how their animal and their opponent's animal are affected as they add plants and animals to their habitat during the game. Using the SnapThought ™ feature, students could take five screenshots during the game, and then explain their reasoning for making a move after the game has ended. In their explanations, students can explain the roles of each organism in the ecosystem and how they depend on one another to get what they need to survive. Decomposers are not addressed in Food Fight, so the teacher would need to discuss that aspect.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
This game allows the student to observe how changes in an organism's habitat affect its ability to survive, as well as the survival of other organisms.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource was not designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
By introducing various plants and animals into the habitat, the student changes the ecosystem and the plants and animals in the ecosystem respond to that change. The teacher can ask students to specifically record and discuss cause and effect relationships that they observed as part of the game.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: Food Fight supports students in making sense of how a change in a habitat can affect many parts of the habitat. Students can clearly see cause and effect as they add a new element into the habitat. By using the SnapThought feature, the student can make and support an argument for why they added an organism. If an animal does not have the proper habitat, it will not survive, leading the student to provide a better support for their animal the next game. While students are learning the game, it might be good to have two students at a time play on a SmartBoard in front of the class, if possible. That way, the teacher can point out some of the interactions in the food chain/habitat as each choice is selected. After the students have seen a few games modeled, they could play in pairs on a computer while the teacher walks around and observes. Working in pairs allows for more communication about the effect of each move.

  • Instructional Supports: Many of the world’s habitats and food chains are hard to examine first-hand, so this assessment provides a model for students to look at the interaction of different animals sharing a habitat. It provides opportunities for students to design and test solutions to help their animal survive. The SnapThought feature provides opportunities for students to express their ideas in written form. However, there are no guidelines as to what a proficient answer to SnapThought should look like. The assessment uses grade-appropriate and scientifically accurate information about the animals in the simulation. Several additional movies on the topic and useful tips on using the game can be found in the Teaching Tips section below the game. A hands-on lesson about energy flow in an ecosystem is provided below the game, but there are no supports for ELL students or extensions. An activity that allows the students to role play animals and show their connections using a ball of yarn to physically make a food “web” could be used to support all students. While some of the animals may be found in the students’ community, most of the animals will have no connection to where students live.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: Food Fight can be used as a summative assessment to monitor student progress. It could possibly be used as both a formative assessment and a summative assessment, and the teacher could compare the scores/responses at the beginning and end of their unit. This assessment allows the teacher to watch the student make decisions about how to best support their animal in the game habitat. The game does not issue points to the students until they add their animal, but if the student adds their animal too early, it will die. After their animal is added, the student gets immediate feedback on their decision, either scoring points for a good decision or a weak or deceased animal for a bad choice. The teacher can also use the SnapThought feature to look at the reasoning behind each decision, allowing them to see the student’s thought process. As mentioned earlier, no rubric or example answers are provided with the Snap Thought feature. In the resource section is a link: that allows a teacher to create and save their own assessment for this activity, but it does require the user to have Adobe Flash in order to use this feature.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: Food Fight is responsive to student input and creates an individualized learning experience. As the student adds plants and animals, the game responds by letting the student know how the habitat reacted. By participating in this educational game, the student can learn that one choice can affect a habitat on many different levels. Food Fight is well-designed and easy to use, and the fun format encourages learner use. After repeated trials, Food Fight appears to function well through the BrainPop website. BrainPop is available as a 24-hour school-wide purchase, a school hours only school-wide purchase, or individual classroom purchase.