Home Sweet Home Habitat Study March 23 2010

Habitats are great to study any time of the year simply because prior knowledge is built in to this particular research project. Depending on the age and ability level of your students, here are a few lesson suggestions for researching animal habitats along with directing students to explore their own!

What's included in a habitat?

The essential definition of the word habitat is "home." Because students are children raised in a home, they have immediate background knowledge concerning the concept of a habitat. The easiest parallel to draw when studying habitats is with animals, and this exploration makes for a fun habitat project.

Before starting any research, create a chart with your students to answer the question, "What's included in a habitat?" Steer the conversation to include geographical name or location (i.e. suburb, city, desert, ocean, river, mountains), food, water, shelter, and a place to raise babies. Also take note of any questions that come out of this discussion on the chart.

Hand out a copy of the Home Sweet Home Habitat Process Grid to each student, and fill in the first row with them regarding their habitats. Discuss what's common in your human habitats. This would be a great time to discuss the differences between living in a city, a rural community or a suburban neighborhood when filling in Geographical Location. As for Shelter, students can write down what kind of housing situation they live in. The Food category could include three or so meals a day and/or how people in our society get food. The answers that students supply for these categories will depend on your students' experiences, especially what they consider to be "interesting facts" about how we live in our habitats.

A Research Project

Before they begin any research, it also might be a good idea to review common habitat vocabulary, which could include predator, prey, carnivore, herbivore, omnivore, camouflage, nocturnal, shelter, food, adaptations, desert, oceans, tundra, fresh water, forest/rain forest, cities, suburbs, mountains, and prairies. Have each person use the Predict, Define, and Sketch chart to keep track of and process the vocabulary.

This project can be as simple or as complicated as necessary, depending on what your kids are ready for. If you have a computer lab, have your students choose an animal from the wild and find information online; identify a couple of appropriate websites beforehand to provide for their research. Have a variety of picture and resource books available about the animals your students have chosen to learn about. Direct your students to take notes on the food, water, and shelter needs of their chosen animals, along with the geographical location and one or two interesting facts. They can use the Home Sweet Home Habitat Process Grid to take these notes, or a separate sheet of paper if there's not enough room in a row of the chart.

If your kids aren't ready to tackle a research project on their own, have them work in small groups of 3 or 4, or partner them up to help each other find the information they need.

A Place For Information

As students are sharing their findings with the rest of the class, have them take notes using their Home Sweet Home Habitat Process Grid they previously filled in with their human habitat information. Once this is filled out, have your students write about an animal's habitat or compare their human home with an animal habitat in a couple of paragraphs.

If you can, head to the computer lab again for students to type up their Habitat paragraphs. Partner these writing pieces with student artwork depicting their animals and hang them in the hallway for a fun and informative display!