Ecology: Levels of Organization

By Laura Hospitál on Apr 02, 2017

As students are taught the levels of organization from single organism to the biosphere, they are tasked with placing them in order.  This activity can be played as a game if desired. 

Vocabulary terms:

  • biosphere - everywhere on Earth where living things can exist
  • ecosystem -  a community and the non-living things in the environment
  • community - all populations that live in a given area
  • population - a group of organisms of the same species that live in an area
  • organism - a living thing


Prepare cards in large print and/or braille for each student as appropriate:

  • organism
  • population
  • community
  • ecosystem
  • biosphere


  • Cards described in the preparation section
  • Printer or embosser, depending on reading medium


  1. After initial instruction on levels of organization in ecology, present each student with the stack of 5 cards out of order and explain the task.
  2. The Task: Place the cards in order form least amount of interaction to most.  Alternatively, students can be asked to place in order from most to least amount of interaction between organisms.
  3. Have students race to complete the task to build interest.  
  4. After students have ordered the terms, discuss with each student and as a group. Reteach as necessary. 
  5. Continue with related instruction, such as questions from text, worksheet, etc. 

Students can work in groups if this will be beneficial.


Extension activity:

  • Prepare cards with the definitions for each word.  Students will match them either as a game (see Vocabulary Review Game) or individually for review.  Please see definitions for the terms above. 



NGSS Standards:

Middle School - Matter and Energy in Organisms and Ecosystems

LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems

  • Organisms, and populations of organisms, are dependent on their environmental interactions both with other living things and with nonliving factors. (MS-LS2-1)
  • In any ecosystem, organisms and populations with similar requirements for food, water, oxygen, or other resources may compete with each other for limited resources, access to which consequently constrains their growth and reproduction. (MS-LS2-1)
  • Growth of organisms and population increases are limited by access to resources. (MS-LS2-1)
Collage of ecology levels of organization
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