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A Thematic Unit on Habitat

written by: Kara Bietz • edited by: Amanda Grove • updated: 3/2/2012

A beginner thematic unit for habitats, suitable for children in Kindergarten to Grade 2. Use this introduction to habitats to create more focused habitat thematic units on prairies, oceans and deserts. Includes objectives, lesson plans, and assessment ideas for a simple habitat unit.

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    Grade Level: K-2


    • Interdisciplinary
    • Science
    • Language Arts
    • Music and Movement

    Theme: Children in early elementary school are interested in animal homes, and are able to make paralells between their own homes and those of other animals. We will begin the unit discussing animals that are native to our part of the country and branch out as necessary to other environments. We can use this simple habitat plan to create more focused habitat thematic units.

    Overview: The purpose of this unit is to introduce children to the word "Habitat" and explain that it means the place where an animal lives. The lessons have been created to provide a broad understanding of basic animal habitats, beginning with animals native to this part of the country. As children become acquainted with these familiar animals, we will discuss other animal habitats.

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    Lesson Plans


    • Children will create an animal habitat using outdoor found materials such as leaves, grass, twigs and pine straw. This activity will be done as a large group and will take place immediately after reading the book Rabbits by Melanie Mitchell and a large group discussion of rabbit habitats.
    • We will use the five habitat poster for this activity (desert, savannah, ocean, forest, pond). Children will be given a baggie full of animal pictures and will place each animal in its correct habitat. This is a small group activity.

    Language Arts:

    • Rabbits by Melanie Mitchell
    • The Animal Habitats series by Oona Gaarder-Juntti (Antarctica, Prairie, Savannah, Ocean)
    • I See A Kookaburra by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
    • Owls and Their Homes by Deborah Chase Gibson
    • Bats and Their Homes by Deborah Chase GIbson
    • In The Tall, Tall Grass by Denise Fleming
    • In the Small, Small Pond by Denise Fleming
    • Students will be introduced to animal habitat names such as hutch, nest, lodge, burrow and hive. Students will complete a matching worksheet, matching animals to the names of their habitats.

    Music and Movement:

    • As a large group activity, give children a chance to move their bodies like certain animals. Provide students with an animal name. Once the children tell you which basic habitat an animal lives in, ask the students to move across the room as that animal into their habitat. Some examples are swooping owls, hopping rabbits, creeping raccoons, and slithery snakes.
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    Children will be evaluated throughout the unit based on teacher observation and documentation. Children should be able to define the word habitat when asked, share simple ideas related to specific animal habitats, and recall facts and concepts introduced through books and activities. Take pictures of children creating rabbit habitats, searching for outdoor materials, and placing animal pictures on the habitat posters to include in each child's work portfolio. For older students and for a more concrete assessment tool, use the animal/habitat matching worksheet. Be sure students reading level is taken into consideration when creating assessment tools.

    Once children understand the basic concept of habitats, you can create several lesson plans for your habitat thematic units. For example, spend a full week discussing the savannah, followed by a week on the desert or the ocean. Breaking up the unit in this way will allow you to study habitats in depth and spend more time on those habitats children find most interesting.