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Ecosystems, Movement & Play, Physical Geography


3rd, 4th, 5th


Science, Social Studies, Biology, Geography, Health


60 minutes

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - Northeast, New Jersey


Google Docs, Google Slides


This lesson plan is licensed under Creative Commons.

Creative Commons License

It's an Alien Invasion!

Created By Teacher:
Last Updated:
Dec 1, 2022


In this lesson, students learn how cultural practices can spread not only ideas and traditions, but also invasive species into new areas. 

Step 1 - Inquire: Students watch a video outlining invasive species and write a summary outlining their new knowledge.


Step 2 - Investigate: Students play a digital game and a hands-on game to understand how invasive species can outcompete native species in their environments.


Step 3 - Inspire: Students use guided questions to conduct research about an invasive species in their community and create a presentation to spread awareness.


  • This lesson features kinesthetic learning as students play Three Steps Forward, One Step Back.
  • Students will develop a strong connection to self and community through learning about invasive species in their community.
  • This lesson features excellent vocabulary development.
  • Students learn through multiple games.

Additional Prerequisites

  • One-to-one technology or cardstock with art supplies are required for poster creation.
  • Students need access to research materials such as the Internet and/or books about invasive species.


  • Groups of students with mixed abilities can collaborate on their educational posters.
  • Possible Extension: Do a campus tour and have students take notes on species that could be invasive.

This lesson gives students the go-ahead to explore the underlying cultural practices that could spread invasive species and ways to reduce the spread to maintain a healthy and balanced ecosystem. All materials embedded in the lesson are factual and accurate. That being so, this lesson has passed our science credibility review process and is recommended for teaching.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • Social Studies
    • U.S. History: America in the World - Geography, People, and the Environment
      • 6.1.5.GeoGI.4: Explain how cultural and environmental characteristics affect the distribution and movement of people, goods, and ideas.
  • Science
    • LS4: Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
      • 3-LS4-4. Make a claim about the merit of a solution to a problem caused when the environment changes and the types of plants and animals that live there may change.
  • Students begin by watching The Threat of Invasive Species to introduce the concept of invasive species.
  • Students participate in a turn and talk by telling their partner two questions they have after watching the video.
  • Students write a three-sentence summary of the video and give an example of a cultural practice that could accidentally lead to the spread of an invasive species.

  • Students play Invaders Game to learn more about how invasive species outcompete native species in an environment.

  • Students then play the game Three Steps Forward, One Step Back using the Game Scenarios Document or Game Scenarios Cards to model how the spread of cultural practices (such as landscaping, hunting for sport, etc.) can lead to changes in environmental characteristics such as invasive species affecting the environment.
  • In each round of this game the teacher reads a scenario to the students explaining the cultural practices that lead to the introduction of the invasive species.
    • One person starts off as the introduced invasive species.
    • Students spread out throughout the classroom or outside at the discretion of the teacher.
    • The “invasive species” student is allowed to take three steps towards the other “native species” students who are trying to escape. The "native species" students can only take one step.
    • When the “invasive species” student tags a “native species” student, the “native species” student becomes an “invasive species” as well and is able to take three steps during their turn.
    • As more students become “invasive species,” students will be able to view how invasive species spread quickly throughout the environment.
  • The class ends with a whole group discussion on the cultural practices that bring in invasive species, any patterns they notice in these cultural practices, and how quickly invasive species can spread throughout a population.

  • Students use the Graphic Organizer to research invasive species in their community.
  • Students use the guiding questions to conduct their research via school-issued or personal devices and create a presentation to spread awareness on one invasive species found in their community.
  • Students may want to begin their research with the following websites:
  • Students identify the cultural practice that introduced the species, how the species reproduced and outcompeted native species to be considered a problem species, and what people in the community can do to reduce the impacts of the invasive species.
  • Students use cardstock and art supplies or Google Slides to create an informational poster about their invasive species.
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