Alaska Sea Grant

Grade 2 - At Home in the Water

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Thompson

A 4-6 Week Science Unit for Primary Level

Essential Question:

  • Who Lives Where and Why?

Enduring Understandings:

  • Living things have certain characteristics that help them survive.
  • Living things need food, water, oxygen and shelter to survive.
  • Science is a way to help us answer questions about the world around us.

This unit is designed for 2nd grade, but could be adapted to other grades. Students construct an understanding of habitat and the organisms that live within specific habitats, and gain respect for living creatures and care of the world around them through five different investigations, each building on the next. Science Notebooks are used throughout the unit to help students understand and organize information. Native Ways of Knowing are supported as students learn respect for living creatures and care of the world around them.

Ocean Literacy Principle Addressed:

  • The ocean supports a great diversity of life and ecosystems.
Investigation 1

Investigation 1: Habitats
(4-6 class periods)

Students identify specific traits of a habitat, starting with familiar local habitats and then narrowing it to aquatic habitats.

Who lives where and why?

In Activity 1A Animal Habitats, students talk about animal homes and go on a nature walk to look for evidence of animals living in their neighborhood, followed by discussion. What lives in the water?

What lives in the water?
In Activity 1B Aquatic Habitats, students create posters of animals that live in the water and then share, compare, and discuss their posters.

What’s in the jar besides water?
In the Extension activity, What Lives in a Jar? students make daily observations of jars of water and generate questions and ideas for further explorations.

Investigation 2

Investigation 2: We Search
(2-5 class periods)

What lives where and why?
What lives in the water?

Small groups of students use their new learning to research a specific animal, developing understanding of the characteristics of each animal as well as their unique needs for food, water, air, and shelter. They present their research through a 3-D habitat model, a report, a song, a play, or a poster.

Investigation 3

Investigation 3: Brine Shrimp, Amazing Survivors!
(4-5 class periods + 8-10 daily observations)

What are brine shrimp?
What conditions do they need to hatch and grow?

Students use science process skills to investigate a living thing: brine shrimp (also called sea monkeys). They will find out what a brine shrimp needs to survive and provide evidence to show how they know what they know.

Investigation 4

Investigation 4: Field Session
(2-3 class periods plus 3-4 hours)

How do we find out information? How can we share information?
What are the animals in our local habitat?
How do we know? What are the signs/evidence?
Students visit a local aquatic habitat site (intertidal area, river or creek, lake or puddle). After an initial exploration, they do a “timed count” to estimate the population of a particular species in a habitat. Students will share discoveries, ideas, and more questions and connect their field experiences with key concepts through a follow-up classroom session.

Investigation 5

Investigation 5: Communication
(7-12 class periods)

How do we find information?
How can we, as scientists, naturalists, and biologists share our information?
Students present information to each other, and share and celebrate their learning through displays and discussions involving the whole school population, families, Elders and Culture Bearers, guest scientists, and community members if possible. Students each have a photo and descriptive paragraph displayed for others to read, and to be posted on a Web site for statewide sharing with other second grade classes.

Jennifer Thompson, Teacher, Juneau School District
Denise Caposey, Teacher, Skagway School District
Linda Ramsey, Teacher, Mat-Su School District
Marilyn Sigman, Scientist, Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies, Homer, Alaska
Stephanie Hoag, Curriculum Consultant, Juneau, Alaska

Alaska Sea Grant University of Alaska Fairbanks Alaska Department of Education and Early Development NOAA