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Animals Around UsAnimals-Around-Us

  • Subject: Reading
  • |
  • Grade(s): K-5
  • |
  • Duration: 1 class period

Lesson Plan Sections


Students will
  • Learn and understand the term habitat.
  • Discover that forests, deserts, wetlands, and grasslands are unique and separate habitats.
  • Identify animals that live in four different environments.


  • Animals Around Us video
  • Crayons
  • White construction paper, 1 sheet per student
  • Magazines, nature calendars and other print resources with photographs of desert, forest, wetlands, and prairie environments


1. Talk about different natural environments with the class. What is a forest? What does it look like? How is a forest different from a desert? Explain the term "habitat" and talk about the many kinds of animals that live in different habitats. Use Animals Around Us and print resources to illustrate the unique features and animals of the forest, desert, grasslands, and wetlands.
2. Continue discussing forests, wetlands, deserts, and grasslands until students demonstrate a clear understanding of the basic characteristics of these environments and can identify some animals that live in each habitat. Once students have a solid understanding, tell them to draw a picture of the one they would most likely to visit. Talk about the kinds of things you would expect to see in each picture, such as the animals and plants that live and grow there. Check for comprehension by asking questions like these: Should a drawing of the desert have a lot of trees? What kinds of animals might you draw if you were making a picture of a wetlands habitat?
3. Allow students time to work on their drawings. Write the words "forest," "desert," "wetlands," and "grasslands" on the board so students can write the word for their chosen habitat in a visible spot on their drawings.
4. Once the drawings are complete, ask students to share them with the rest of the class. Which habitat did most of the students want to visit? Ask them to explain why. What kinds of plants and animals appear in the different drawings?
5. At the close of the lesson, take the students outside to observe animals that live in your school environment. What do they see? How would they describe the habitat these animals live in?
6. Finally, display the habitat drawings in the classroom so students have a visual reminder of the unique features of the forest, desert, wetlands, and grasslands.

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Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate students' work during this lesson.
  • Three points:  Students were highly engaged in class discussions; were able to demonstrate a clear understanding of the term "habitat" and give correct examples of different habitats; and drew colorful, unique pictures that clearly identified a desert, forest, wetland, or grassland habitat.
  • Two points:  Students participated in class discussions; were able to demonstrate a basic understanding of the term "habitat" and give mostly correct examples of different habitats; and drew pictures that somewhat identified a desert, forest, wetland, or grassland habitat.
  • One point:  Students participated minimally in class discussions; were unable to demonstrate a basic understanding of the term "habitat" and could not give examples of different habitats; and drew incomplete pictures that did not clearly identify a desert, forest, wetland, or grassland habitat.

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Animal Habitat Vocabulary

Definition: A dry, often sandy region that has little rainfall, extreme temperatures, and sparse vegetation
Context: Because the desert gets so little rainfall, very few plants can grow there.

Definition: A dense growth of trees, plants, and underbrush covering a large area
Context: A forest, also called woodland, is a habitat with lots of trees.

Definition: Land where mainly grass or grasslike vegetation grows, such as a prairie or a meadow
Context: Some of the biggest animals living in the grasslands are grazers, or grass eaters, such as bison.

Definition: The type of environment in which an organism or group normally lives or occurs
Context: Every habitat provides animal species with food, water, shelter, and space to move around.

Definition: An area of land where water covers the soil or is present either at or near the surface of the soil year-round or for varying periods of time during the year, including during the growing season
Context: A wetland is any place where the soil stays moist and wet, such as a bog, swamp, or marsh.

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Academic Standards

National Academy of Sciences
The National Academy of Sciences provides guidelines for teaching science in grades K-12 to promote scientific literacy. To view the standards, visit this Web site:

This lesson plan addresses the following national standards:

  • Life Science: Organisms and environments

Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL)
McREL's Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education addresses 14 content areas. To view the standards and benchmarks, visit:

This lesson plan addresses the following national standards:

  • Language Arts-Reading: Uses the general skills and strategies of the reading process: Understands that print conveys meaning (i.e., knows that printed letters and words represent spoken language); and
  • Language Arts ? Viewing: Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media: Understands the main idea or message in visual media (e.g., pictures, cartoons, weather reports on television, newspaper photographs, visual narratives)
  • Geography-Physical Systems: Understands the characteristics of ecosystems on Earth's surface
  • Science-Life Science: Understands relationships among organisms and their physical environment

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