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Habitats Of The WorldHabitats-Of-The-World

  • Subject:
  • |
  • Grade(s): K-5
  • |
  • Duration: Three class periods

Lesson Plan Sections

Objectives


Students will understand the following:
1. Earth supports many different animal habitats, each of which has distinct features and distinct plant and animal populations.
2. Animals and plants are adapted to the conditions of the habitats in which they live.

Materials


For this lesson, you will need:
Research materials on habitats
Computer with Internet access
Materials needed by groups for their projects
  Earth Science worksheets
  Animal Environment worksheet

Procedures


1. Tell students they are going to form groups to research different habitats of the world. Each group will produce a report on its habitat including the following information:
  1. A physical description of the habitat
  2. Examples of the habitat (geographical locations)
  3. Examples of animals and plants that live in the habitat
In addition, each group will be given a specific assignment that will require the group to show how the animals in the assigned habitat are adapted for life there.
2. On the chalkboard, write the names of the different habitats students will investigate: grasslands (or savanna), temperate forest, tropical rain forest, desert, polar ice, tidepools. Then divide your class into six groups, assigning each group one of those habitats to research. Following are specific assignments for each group.
3. Grasslands (savanna): Research the speeds of animals that live in the African grasslands. Project: Create a display that compares the different speeds of these animals. Write an explanation for why speed is important for survival in the grasslands. (There are few trees or places for animals to hide in grasslands habitats. Therefore, speed is important for both predators that are hunting and animals that are fleeing predators.)
4. Temperate forest: Explain to students that in the winter, less water is available for trees to take in through their roots, because much of the water in the ground is frozen. Since trees lose water through their leaves, losing leaves is a way for a tree to conserve water. Coniferous trees do not lose nearly as much water through their needles as deciduous trees lose through their leaves. Project: Put a twig from a coniferous tree (cone-bearing tree with needles instead of leaves) in a cup of water, and tightly fasten a clear plastic bag around its needles. Put a twig from a deciduous tree (leafy tree that loses its leaves in the fall) in a cup of water, and tightly fasten a clear plastic bag around the leaves. Observe what happens. Draw pictures and write an explanation for what you observed. (There will be more water droplets on the inside of the bag covering the leaves, showing that leaves lose more water than do needles.)
5. Tropical rain forest: Describe the three main levels of the rain forest—canopy, understory, and forest floor. Project: Make a diagram or model showing examples of animals and plants that live on each level. Choose an animal or plant from each level and explain how it is adapted to its particular place in the tropical rain forest. (Canopy examples: monkeys can use arms and legs and sometimes even tails to swing from branch to branch; birds such as parrots have specialized feet with two curling front toes and two curling back toes to help them hang on to branches. Understory example: snakes such as boa constrictors spend their days curled around branches or vines. Forest floor example: jaguars' spots help them to be better hunters by making them hard to see among the speckled shadows of the rain forest floor.)
6. Desert: Choose a desert animal or plant. Project: Make a model of it, draw it, or describe it. Explain how it is particularly well adapted to survive in a place where there is very little water. (Plant example: the saguaro cactus has an expanding trunk that allows it to take in a great deal of water when water is available. The saguaro has stored-up water during the long desert dry periods. Animal examples: many desert animals dig burrows in the sand to stay cool in the intense heat; many desert animals sleep during the day and are active at night, when the temperature is lower.)
7. Polar ice: Research both the polar bear (North Pole) and the penguin (South Pole). Project: Draw or make a model of each animal. For each animal, explain at least three ways—physical or behavioral characteristics—in which it is well adapted for life in a very cold and snowy climate. (Polar bear examples: two layers of fur and an extra layer of fat under its skin keep it warm; ears are very small so that very little heat can escape from them; paws are huge to help spread out its weight over the snow and keep it from sinking in; it builds snow dens to keep its babies warm in winter; it has white fur that helps it blend in to its surroundings.)
8. Tidepool: Explain how a tidepool is formed, and describe several animals that are found in tidepools. Project: Make two models of a tidepool—one at high tide and one at low tide. Use sand, rocks, salt water, and other materials (e.g., modeling clay) for your models. Draw at least three tidepool animals and explain how they survive in a constantly changing habitat (sometimes wet, sometimes dry). (Examples: periwinkles, limpets, and barnacles attach themselves to rocks by suction so they will not be swept away when the tide goes out; the incoming tide brings food to clams, oysters, and mussels—all they have to do is open up their shells and tiny bits of animals and plants flow in.)
9. When students have completed their assignments, have each group present its project to the class.

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Adaptations


Have each group choose a habitat and draw pictures of plants and animals that would be found there.

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Discussion Questions


1. Compare a cheetah to a top athlete. In what types of sports would cheetahs excel?
2. Many trees grow in the temperate forest. Talk about several ways in which the animals that live in the temperate forest depend on trees.
3. The tropical rain forest is home to more species of animals than any other habitat, and yet the rain forest is in danger because so many rain-forest trees and other plants are needed for many products we use. Can you devise a plan to preserve the rain forest without depriving human beings of products on which they depend?
4. Humans, as well as animals, live in the desert. Compare and contrast the ways in which humans and animals have adapted to life in this habitat.
5. Many scientists believe that, as a result of global warming, the polar ice cap is beginning to melt. Discuss what the effects that the melting of the polar ice cap might have on the rest of the world. Can anything be done to stop or slow down the process of global warming?
6. Imagine that you are a tidepool animal, and describe a day in your life in the tidepool. What difficulties do you have to overcome? What are the positive aspects of life in a tidepool?

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Evaluation


You can evaluate groups on their projects using the following three-point rubric:
 
Three points: fulfills all requirements of assignment; project carefully prepared; group works well together; presentation well organized
 
Two points: fulfills most requirements of assignment; project satisfactorily prepared; group works well together most of the time; presentation satisfactory
 
One point: fulfills few requirements of assignment; project carelessly prepared; group has problems working together; presentation disorganized

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Extensions


Habitat Sites
To learn more about the habitats the class has been studying, have students visit a Web site for each habitat. Students should be able to find sites easily, but here are some suggestions:
Grasslands: cheetahspot
Temperate forest: northolympic
Tropical rain forest: edens
Desert: desertusa
Polar ice: antarctica
Tidepool: tidepools

Mystery Animals
Divide your class into groups. Have each group choose an unusual or unfamiliar animal from the habitat it has been assigned and prepare a card with the name of the animal, a description of the animal's physical and behavioral characteristics, and a picture of the animal. Mix up the cards and give one to each group, making sure that no group gets its own card. Then challenge each group to figure out, on the basis of the animal's physical and behavioral characteristics, whether the animal it has been given belongs in the habitat the group was assigned.

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Suggested Readings


The Serengeti Migration: Africa's Animals on the Move
Lisa Lindblad. Hyperion Press, 1994.


Cheetah
Taylor Morrison. Henry Holt & Company, 1998.


Grassland
April Pulley Sayre. NY, Twenty-First Century Books, 1994.


The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals
Jonathan Kingdon. San Diego, Academic Press / Harcourt Brace & Co., 1997.


The Temperate Forest (Deep Green Planet)
Lorenzo Fornasari, Renato Massa, and Monica Carabella. Raintree/Steck Vaughn, 1996.


Vanishing Forests
Helen J. Challand. Chicago, Childrens Press, 1991.


Washington
Dennis Brindell Fradin and Judith Bloom Fradin. Chicago, Childrens Press, 1994.


Tropical Rain Forest
April Pulley Sayre. NY, Twenty-First Century Books, 1994.


Welcome to the Green House
Jane Yolen (Illustrated by Laura Regan). NY, Putnam's Sons, 1993.


The Most Beautiful Roof in the World: Exploring the Rainforest Canopy
Kathryn Lasky. Gulliver Books, 1997.


Rainforest (Biomes of the World)
Edward R. Ricciuti. Benchmark Books, 1996.


Antarctica (Enchantment of the World)
Henry Billings. Children's Press, 1994.


What's a Penguin Doing in a Place Like This?
Miriam Schlein. Brookfield, CT, The Millbrook Press, 1997.


Penguins
Gallimard Jeunesse and Rene Mettler. NY, Cartwheel Books / Scholastic, Inc., 1995.


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Links


The Cheetah Spot
This site allows all who visit to be contestants on a quiz show. Everything you ever wanted to know about these denizens of the Serengeti is at your fingertips. Students will learn about physical descriptions, fur patterns, and preservation efforts and view photos of the world's fastest animal.

Olympic National Park
This site includes information on climate and glaciers and even contains a list of animals common to the area.

The Living Edens "Manu"
This site provides information on the people of Peru's rainforest.

Penguin Adaptation
Find out about the special features penguins have that enable them to survive in severe climate of the Antarctic.

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Vocabulary


Click on any of the vocabulary words below to hear them pronounced and used in a sentence.

speaker    evaporates
Definition: Changes into vapor, removes, dissolves, or disappears.
Context: When it doesn't rain for months at a time in the marshes, much of the water evaporates and many of the plants die.

speaker    carnivores
Definition: Animals who eat flesh.
Context: In the grasslands of the Serengeti, you will find animals that are carnivores, herbivores, and scavengers.

speaker    herbivores
Definition: Animals who eat plants.
Context: In the grasslands of the Serengeti, you will find animals that are carnivores, herbivores, and scavengers.

speaker    circumference
Definition: The distance around a circular object.
Context: Sitka spruces can reach a circumference of 23 feet.

speaker    peninsula
Definition: An area of land surrounded on nearly all sides by water.
Context: The Olympic Peninsula in Washington state receives about 12 feet of rain each year.

speaker    canopy
Definition: The thick layer of leaves at the top of trees in the rainforest.
Context: Many rainforest animals live in the canopy.

speaker    decomposes
Definition: Rots and decays; breaks down into smaller pieces.
Context: When a tree or plant dies naturally in the forest, it decomposes.

speaker    unique
Definition: The only one of its kind, original and unmatched.
Context: The feather patterns on each macaw are unique.

speaker    circulate
Definition: To move in a circle, circuit, or orbit.
Context: The cooler air and water from Antarctica circulate around the globe, helping to regulate the temperatures of the whole Earth.

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Standards


This lesson plan may be used to address the academic standards listed below. These standards are drawn from Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education: 2nd Edition and have been provided courtesy of theMid-continent Research for Education and Learningin Aurora, Colorado.
 
Grade level: K-2, 3-5, 6-8
Subject area: science
Standard:
Knows about the diversity and unity that characterize life.
Benchmarks:

(K-2)Knows that plants and animals have features that help them live in different environments.

(3-5)Knows that plants and animals have life cycles that include birth, growth and development, reproduction and death; the details of this life cycle vary for different organisms.

(6-8)Knows that all organisms, including the human species, are part of and depend on two main global food webs: one global food web starts with microscopic ocean plants and seaweed and includes the animals that feed on them and the animals that feed on those animals; the other global food web begins with land plants and includes the animals that feed on them and so forth.

Grade level: 6-8
Subject area: science
Standard:
Understands how species depend on one another and on the environment for survival.
Benchmarks:
Knows that the number and types of organisms an ecosystem can support depend on the resources available and abiotic factors such as quantity of light and water, range of temperatures, and soil composition; limitations of resources and other factors such as predation and climate limit the growth of populations in specific niches in the ecosystem.

Grade level: 3-5
Subject area: geography
Standard:
Understands the characteristics of ecosystems on Earth's surface.
Benchmarks:
Knows plants and animals associated with various vegetation and climatic regions on Earth.

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Credit


Francine Weinberg and Nancy White, educational consultants.

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