Lesson 09 – Producers, Consumers, and Decomposers

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Read About Producers, Consumers, and Decomposers


Read the vocabulary terms to understand the reading better.

Bacteria are extremely tiny living things found everywhere. Most bacteria cannot be seen without a microscope and come in different shapes, such as rods, spirals, and spheres.

To consume is to eat something.

A consumer is an animal that gets its energy by eating plants or other animals.

A decomposer is a living thing that feeds on and breaks down dead and decaying plants and animals. Some examples of decomposers include earthworms and bacteria.

A food chain is a diagram that shows the sequence of living things in which one feeds on the living thing below it.

Recycling is the process of taking materials ready to be thrown away and transforming them into new products.

A scavenger is an animal that eats dead animals. Examples of scavengers include coyotes, crows, vultures and ravens.

Producers, Consumers, and Decomposers

Living things can be grouped into three categories:

The living things in a food chain are all producers or consumers. Here is an example:

What about sunlight? Sunlight is not a living thing, so it is not a producer, consumer, or decomposer.

Yuck! Dead Things!

You might not like dead plants and animals, but decomposers sure do. That is a good thing. Decomposers play an important role in a food chain.


Look at the food chain above. When any of the consumers die, parts of their bodies may be eaten by scavengers. (Scavengers are animals that eat dead animals). The scavengers may leave behind some tasty bits that they were not able to eat. Then the decomposers move in to finish the job. They break down some parts of an animal’s body that scavengers did not eat.

Raccoons are scavengers, they eat out of garbage cans, and even roadkill.

Remember that some decomposers break down dead plants. When any living thing dies, decomposers help turn it into tiny pieces that living plants can use to make food. You can think of decomposers as living things that recycle dead plants and animals into something useful for plants.

To learn more about producers, consumers, and decomposers, watch the video by Free School on Youtube.

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Complete some questions about the reading selection by clicking “Begin Questions” below.