Investigation 1 - Habitats
Class Time Required
Activity 1A - 2 class periods
Activity 1B - 1 class period
What Lives in a Jar Extension - 1 class period plus 15 minutes/day for 5 days
Prior Student Knowledge
Students should know the difference between living and nonliving things, and have experience sorting plants and animals into different groups. They should also understand that animals, including humans, live in homes, and that each place has plants and animals that can survive there.
A mini-lesson on the use of scientific tools would be helpful. It could include: how to use a magnifier or loupe, how to use a thermometer, using measuring tools, how to use an eyedropper, how to take care of tools, where to put them when finished.
|Aquatic habitat, Evidence, Habitat, Shelter, Algae, Microbe, Microscopic|
|Science GLEs Addressed||
1st and 2nd grade standards: A1, C3, G3, G4
3rd grade GLEs:  SA1.1,  SA1.2,  SA3.1,  SC3.1,  SC3.2,  SG2.1,  SG4.1
Overview: In this 4-6 day investigation, students identify specific traits of a habitat. They start with a familiar local habitat and then focus on aquatic habitats. Children are guided through an initial field session, a follow-up exploration of water habitats, and discussions of aquatic habitats and the animals that live in them. They use an OWL chart to track initial thinking, useful questions, and new learning, and they use science notebooks to document thinking and discoveries as well as questions and specific comparisons and contrasts. A quick assessment check using a cut and glue animal will give teachers an idea of initial understandings of habitat.
What lives where and why?
Engagement: (10 minutes)
With the whole class, brainstorm different animal homes such as bird and squirrel nests, beehives, anthills, and barns. Chart the students’ responses. Lead students in a discussion of what evidence they might find to indicate that an animal lives in a particular area. Add these to the chart. Examine the chart and discuss with students why an animal may decide to make its home in a particular place. What does the animal need to survive? Is it able to get these things where it lives? What might make a place unsuitable as a home (e.g., too wet, too dry, too cold, too hot)? Encourage students’ use of the word shelter for aspects of an animal’s home that protects it from other animals or factors (e.g. drying out, getting too hot or cold) that would harm it and make it difficult to live comfortably. Introduce the word habitat. Lead students in developing a definition for the word habitat. An example of a good definition would be: A habitat is a place where animals can live and have all of their needs met.
Exploration: (40 minutes)
Go on a nature walk to find evidence of animals in your locale. Students should bring their science notebooks and a pencil. Have students find evidence that an animal lives in a place, such as nests, anthills, spruce cone piles, droppings, tracks, or sounds. Students should record their findings by drawing a quick sketch in their science notebooks of an animal in or near its habitat.
Explanation: (10 minutes)
Students return to the classroom and complete a Think, Pair, Share activity with their findings. Be sure students can explain the evidence they found to show why they think a particular animal lived in a place. Students should be encouraged to label their drawings. Then, as a whole group, generate a list of animals that were found on the walk and evidence that supports each finding. You may want to compare the original chart of possible animal evidence to the chart of evidence of animals found during the walk, and have students note the differences between the two.
Elaboration: (15 minutes)
Lead the students to an understanding that an animal’s home is called its habitat. In their science notebooks, have students label their drawings of an animal’s home with the word habitat. Let students know that they will find out more about why an animal would choose a particular place for its home in later investigations.
Use class discussion and students’ science notebooks to evaluate their understanding. A possible rubric to use for scoring follows:
Scoring Rubric: Were students able to show evidence of an animal in its home?
4 Student drew an animal in its appropriate habitat and labeled the drawing.
3 Student drew an animal in its appropriate habitat.
2 Student drew a shelter but did not match the appropriate animal to the habitat.
1 Some attempt made but animal and/or habitat were not shown.
0 No attempt.
What lives in the water?
Engagement: (10 minutes)
Play the Mystery Animal Game: Give the students clues about an aquatic animal but do not tell the students that it is aquatic. Clues might include what type of shelter the animal lives in, what it eats, and some of its behaviors. Ask students to guess what animal is being described.
Who Am I?
Clue #1: I live in different places during different times of my life.
Clue #2: I look very different when I am born than when I am grown.
Clue #3: I like to eat bugs when I am grown.
Clue #4: I can make a loud noise.
Clue #1: I can make a loud noise with my tail when I am frightened.
Clue #2: I make my home of mud and sticks.
Clue #3: I can cut down a tree with my sharp teeth.
Clue #4: I have dark brown fur and large webbed feet.
Clue #1: I live where it is cold most of the year.
Clue #2: I like to eat clams as well as seals.
Clue #3: I can grow to weigh more than a ton!
Clue #4: I have two tusks.
Clues and animals can be derived from the Alaska Wildlife Notebook Series.
Ask students to guess what animal is being described. Write each animal on the board as it is successfully identified. Ask students to determine what all the animals have in common (they live in or near the water).
Exploration: (25 minutes)
- Display posters and books of aquatic habitats throughout the room and invite students to explore and talk among themselves for about 5 minutes, about the varied aquatic life forms.
- Clear tables and make poster boards and magazines available to small groups of students. Have students work in groups to locate, cut, and paste pictures of aquatic animals to create a poster of animals that live in the water.
- Monitor the groups and listen for questions that students ask as they work. Record these questions on chart paper.
Explanation: (10 minutes)
- Allow students to share and compare their posters with other groups. Encourage them to ask questions of the other groups to support and show evidence for their choice of animals in the poster.
- Record questions that arise from the discussion on the chart started in the exploration part of the lesson.
- Record facts that students profess to know on a separate chart.
- Ask students, in their groups, to use their science notebook entries from the nature walk, and discuss what is the same and what is different about the animals they drew in their notebooks and the animals they chose for their posters.
- One student from each group will report the similarities and differences the group noticed about the animals.
Elaboration (5-30 minutes)
- Ask students to complete the sentences on the Compare and Contrast Response chart in their science notebooks.
- Students can graph the variety of animals displayed on their class posters.
Assess small groups on their completion of a poster that displays aquatic animals.
Assess individual students on their notebook entry using the Compare and Contrast Response chart.
Provide pictures of aquatic animals from the Animal Mystery Game and ask students to glue a picture in their science notebooks. Tell them to draw an appropriate habitat for that animal and label the animal’s food source and shelter.
- What lives where and why?
- What lives in the water?
- What’s in the jar besides water?
This is an ongoing investigation that will give students practice with science process skills that are important for further investigations in the unit.
Important concepts for this activity are:
- In an ordinary jar of water, there can be life.
- Living things are not always visible.
This is a good activity IF you have pond water that is active with a window of light/sun. The heat from the window may not be enough to get things growing. If you have a fish tank or other watery creature in your classroom, you might use this to for bring kids' attention to algae growth.
Engagement: (15 minutes)
Show the students the jar(s) of water and ask them what they can see in the jar. Students will first record a prediction in their Science notebooks. Guide them in observing and measuring the water in the jar, using thermometers and rulers. Using eyedroppers and magnifying lenses (or microscopes if available), give students the opportunity to closely examine drops of water from the jar. Be sure students date their entry.
Exploration and Explanation: (15 minutes per day for about 1 week)
Each day, provide time for students to observe and record observations of the jar(s) in their notebooks, being sure to include the date. They will record questions about what they observe. As water warms to room temperature, the jars should begin to show signs of life. Algae may begin to form. Larval stages of many insects begin in water. Provide magnifying glasses, microscopes, etc., as appropriate for further observations.
Discuss the observations briefly, allowing student questions to drive the discussion. Introduce the terms microbe, microscopic, and algae, as appropriate. If appropriate, ask students to draw and label what they can see in the jar.
Elaboration (20-50 minutes)
Ask students where they think the water came from. Brainstorm the other types of places or habitats where animals might live in the water and the types of animals (microscopic and large enough to observe directly) that live in these types of habitats. Students can design experiments to compare regular tap water with pond water or stream (lake, ocean) water. Ask students to bring in jars of water from home and describe where their water was collected, in their science notebook or on a label attached to the jar. Provide time for students to observe and compare the jars over several days.
Assess student entries in science notebooks including a prediction, a question, and a draw and label page where appropriate for this activity.
For Formative Assessment: Use the Observe-Wonder-Learn chart.
Tips from Teachers
Ask students to bring a sample of water for the "What Lives in a Jar?" activity. This would save the teacher time, and might prove to be interesting if several samples were brought in.
Walk possible routes for the nature walk and decide where to take the students. If necessary, arrange for permission, volunteers, and/or transportation.
Prepare science notebooks for students. If students do not have existing science notebooks, make one for each child by stapling 10-15 sheets of lined and/or unlined paper together in a construction paper folder. Students will need space to draw and write daily observations for 10-15 days. For this activity, they will need to sketch animals and label drawings in their notebook. Be sure that students’ science notebooks are set up with space for daily observations, sketches, dates, and measurements.
Before completing Activity 1C, glue the Compare and Contrast Response chart into students’ science notebooks. This should be placed in the next page after the students’ drawings from the nature walk. Compare and Contrast Explanation.
Collect jars of water from a pond, stream, lake, river, or the ocean, trying not to capture anything other than the liquid water so that jar appears to have only water in it. Obtain samples from local water sources that are known to support a variety of life. Label the jars to show where the water was found and number the jars if more than one water source was used.
Prepare Animal Riddles.
Collect nature magazines with pictures of aquatic habitats that students can cut out. Collect pictures, posters, and books of aquatic habitats and animals.
Animal Riddles Extension
The Animal Riddles Extension describes an additional activity, in which student groups write their own riddles, followed by the creation of a Riddle Book and/or a diorama.
Reading. Standards are addressed by “compare and contrast.” Vocabulary. Also, connect to an additional reading: Pond (One Small Square), by Donald M. Silver or additional read-alouds.
Writing. Drawing and labeling can address writing standards. See Riddle Extension Activity for more writing activities.
Music. Learn and sing the Habitat Song (see Teacher Background ).
Ideas for adapting to different local environment or context.
Invite local tribal council members to go on the nature walk with you.
A nature walk should be possible in all areas, even urban settings. There is probably evidence of animal life around any school building. If you can’t take your students out of the building, you could make a map that shows an outdoor area familiar to them (perhaps the school grounds or a nearby park). List all the different kinds of wildlife or animal evidence that students have seen there.
|Student Handouts (Included)||
|Items for Group Display||
O-W-L chart on overhead, board, or chart paper
Appropriate site for nature walk.
1st and 2nd Grade Standards Addressed
A1 - Science as Inquiry and Process
SA Students develop an understanding of the processes and applications of scientific inquiry.
SA1 Students develop an understanding of the processes of science used to investigate problems, design and conduct repeatable scientific investigations, and defend scientific arguments.
C1 - Concepts of Life Science
SC Students develop an understanding of the concepts, models, theories, facts, evidence, systems, and processes of life science.
SC3 Students develop an understanding that all organisms are linked to each other and their physical environments through the transfer and transformation of matter and energy.
G1 – History and Nature of Science
SG Students develop an understanding of the history and nature of science.
SG3 Students develop an understanding that scientific knowledge is ongoing and subject to change as new evidence becomes available through experimental and/or observational confirmation(s).
SG4 Students develop an understanding that advancements in science depend on curiosity, creativity, imagination, and a broad knowledge base.
3rd grade Grade Level Expectations
The student develops an understanding of the processes of science by:
 SA1.1 asking questions, predicting, observing, describing, measuring, classifying, making generalizations, inferring and communicating.
 SA1.2 observing and describing their world to answer simple questions.
The student demonstrates an understanding that interactions with the environment provide an opportunity for understanding scientific concepts by:
 SA3.1 observing local conditions that determine which plants and/or animals survive. (L)
The student demonstrates an understanding that all organisms are linked to each other and their physical environments through the transfer and transformation of matter and energy by:
 SC3.1 identifying and sorting examples of living and non-living things in the local environment. (L)
 SC3.2 organizing a simple food chain of familiar plants and animals. (L)
The student demonstrates an understanding of the bases of the advancement of scientific knowledge by:
 SG2.1 comparing the results of multiple observations of a single local event. (L)
The student demonstrates an understanding that advancements in science depend on curiosity, creativity, imagination, and a broad knowledge base by:
 SG4.1 asking questions about the natural world.