For this lesson plan, you should have at least one book about animal adaptions or animal homes/habitats. (Examples of helpful texts are given below.) You will also need a writing surface, such as chart paper and an easel, a Sharpie or marker, two boxes, photos of an ocean and a rainforest distinctively and photos of animals that would live in these habitats.
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To introduce students to the concept of animal habitats, read them a book such as "My Very First Book of Animal Homes," by Eric Carle or the "Animal Homes Lap Book," by Jodene Lynn Smith. Make sure that students understand how different animals live in different habitats and ask them to guess which habitats common animals live in, such as whales or fish (water/ocean), monkeys or birds (rainforest/trees), etc.
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Explain to students that animals have different homes that they live in. Set out two boxes, one with a photo of an ocean and one with a photo of a rainforest. Then give each student the picture of an animal, all of which live in either the ocean or in the rainforest, and ask them to place their animal into the appropriate box. Possible pictures include those of whales, seals, fish, octopi, sharks, monkeys, toucans, tigers, and jaguars. Students should be able to differentiate between animals that make their homes in the water and those that make their homes in trees and on dry land.
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Divide a piece of paper into four sections. In one section, draw a nest sitting on a tree branch; in the second section, draw ocean waves; in the third section, draw a cave; and in the fourth section, draw a dam on a river. On a separate piece of paper, draw four different pictures of a bird, a shark, a bear, and a beaver. (If you cannot draw, you may want to use a reproducible printable such as Matching Animals & Habitats created by Jonathan Powell.) Cut out the animal pictures and pass them out to the students along with the habitat worksheet. Have the students paste the animals onto the appropriate animal home or habitat. Students can then color in or decorate the animals and habitats in whatever way they would like. Use this practice as a forum to teach students even more about animals, such as how a beaver builds a dam, etc.
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Whole Class Review
As a class, write a story about one of the animals that you discussed previously. The story should mention the animal's habitat, and the children should try to include as much information as they can about the habitat in the story. Write their ideas on the chart paper and then read the story back to them. Writing out students' ideas is a great way to teach science to preschoolers.
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In order to make sure that students have fully understood this preschool science lesson on animals, it is important to carefully observe their class participation. Keep an eye on those students who seem to need additional review of this topic - those who seem confused about what a "habitat" means, for example, and reinforce the material as needed. Student responses will tell you whether they have fully grasped the concept of animal habitats as well as the completion of the independent activity.