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Ecology Lesson Plans: A Place to Call Home - All About Habitats

free lesson plan and resources for elementary school habitats

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  • The students will be able to define the word habitat.

  • The students will be able to describe the five things an animal needs to survive.

  • The students will learn about the different habitats.

  • The students will be able to explain what a critical habitat is.

Questions that encompasses the objective:

  • Think about an octopus. What does an octopus need to survive?

  • Can an octopus live in the desert?

  • Now think about a scorpion. What does a scorpion need to survive?

  • If the scorpion and the octopus switched living environments (habitats), could they survive?

Prepare the Learner: Activating Prior Knowledge. 

How will students prior knowledge be activated?

Warm up by asking students:

  • What do you know about habitats?

Common Core State Standards:









Materials and Free Resources to Download for this Lesson: 

**Students need to have access to informational resources. If computers are available for use, allow the students to look up information on the computer. If not, allow the students to use encyclopedias or other books. Prior to the start of the lesson, the teacher could have the students choose their groups and habitat. The teacher could then provide information sheets about the habitat**

What is the most important content in this lesson?
To reach this lesson’s objective, students need to understand:

  • The definition of the word habitat.

  • Five things an animal needs to survive.

  • The Earth’s different habitats.

  • How animals adapt to the environment they live in.

How will the learning of this content be facilitated?

  • The teacher will begin the class by handing out the worksheet “How Would You Describe…”. The worksheet lists the seven habitats where plants and animals can be found. The teacher should instruct the students to write as much as they can about the habitat (description). For example, under “urban” they could write “city, tall buildings, mass transportation”. The teacher should allow the students to work for about five minutes before reviewing the worksheet.

**If the teacher prefers, he/she could draw seven columns on the board and label them: desert; freshwater; saltwater (ocean); grasslands/savannas; rainforest; tundra; urban. When reviewing the worksheet, the teacher could write some of the characteristics of each habitat in the appropriate column**

  • Next, the teacher will hand out the worksheet “What is a Habitat?” worksheet. If it is possible, project the “What is a Habitat?” worksheet onto the board using a projector or put into a PowerPoint document and project. As the teacher explains the worksheet, the students will fill in the blank spots on their worksheet.

**The student worksheet does not contain all of this information. Use this as a guide to help explain habitats more in depth to the students**

  • Habitat: the natural home or environment for plants and animals.

  • Plants and animals need a home much like we do.

  • Although animals can live in a home (i.e., birds live in nests) habitats are more like communities instead of “houses”. In fact, the plants and animals that live together form/ are called a community.

  • Within a habitat, there can be a variety of animals. Some animals need a large space to live in, while others need a smaller space.

  • In order to survive in its habitat, an animal needs five things:

    • Food

    • Water

    • Shelter

    • Air

    • Place to raise young

  • Animals need to be able to find all five (needs) in order to live in a habitat. If the animal’s needs cannot be met, they relocate to another area. For example, if deforestation (removal of trees) occurs, a bird may relocate to another forest. When habitats become scarce (such as forests), animals risk becoming endangered.

  • Ecosystem: a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment. (Dictionary Definition). Ecosystems are constantly changing, either by weather, climate, or human interference. The Plants and animals of the ecosystem have adapted to survive those changes. However, when something is changed within the ecosystem, all of the animals are affected.

  • Niche: the smallest unit of the habitat a plant or animal occupies (physical space); also describes the plant or animal’s role within the habitat.

  • In the habitat, food and water may be scarce/ limited. Animals begin to compete with each other for these resources. No two animals can live in the same niche; each animal has its own special place to live and job within the habitat.

  • Habitats are constantly changing due to the changes in the Earth.

  • Critical Habitat: areas that are protected by laws that forbid people from: hunting the animals that live there; removing the animals from the habitat; bothering the animals that live in that habitat. Animals that live in these areas are at a risk of becoming endangered; they must be protected so they can continue to produce young.

  • After the worksheets are explained, the teacher should go to the following website: This website provides a list of all of Earth’s habitats. The teacher should review the habitats with the students, discussing the picture, and clicking on the links provided to learn more about the habitats.

**This website lists all of the terrestrial, freshwater, and marine habitats. Even though the students will only learn about the main/ common habitats, it is good to expose them to all of the Earth’s Habitats**

  • After the worksheet is completed, the students will participate in an activity called “Habitats” The students will work in groups of three. Each group will be given one of the seven habitats that were reviewed at the beginning of class. Each group will use the information they have about their habitat (refer to the “Materials” section about how the information can be obtained) to create a poster about their habitat. The students should include what plants and animals live in that habitat; places where the habitat can be found; endangered species that live in that habitat; if the habitat is at risk for endangerment. Allow the students to work for about 20 minutes. Once 20 minutes is over, reconvene and discuss the projects.

**This can be an assignment/project that is graded or presented to the class**

  • The final assessment will be for the students to answer the questions:

Think about what you learned in class today. What is a habitat? What are the five resources an animal needs to survive? If an animal cannot find one of the resources, what are some things it will try to solve its problem? How does a critical habitat differ from a habitat?

3-5 minutes
Guided Introduction

Review the class/ agenda with the students:

  • Introductory Activity: “How Would You Describe…?” worksheet

  • Discussion: Introductory Worksheet | Habitats | Earth’s Habitats

  • Group Activity: “Habitats”

  • Discussion of Activity

  • Independent Assessment

10 minutes

Introductory Activity:

  • Hand out the “How Would You Describe…?” worksheet.

  • Allow the students to work for about five minutes.

  • Review the worksheet with the students.

15 Minutes

Earth’s Habitats

  • Give each student a “What is a Habitat?” worksheet.

  • Project the worksheet onto the board either through a projector or PowerPoint presentation.

  • Students will fill in the blanks as the teacher presents.

  • Explore this website:

  • The teacher and students should have a discussion about the habitats (common and uncommon) that are found on Earth. Read the description of each habitat.

20 Minutes

Group Activity: “Habitats”

  • Have the students break into groups of three.

  • Give each group a poster board.

  • Each group will use the information they have about their habitat to create a poster.

  • Allow the students to work on their poster for about 20 minutes.

  • At the end of 20 minutes, discuss the activity.

15 minutes

  • As an independent assessment, the students will answer the question:  

Think about what you learned in class today. What is a habitat? What are the five resources an animal needs to survive? If an animal cannot find one of the resources, what are some things it will try to solve its problem? How does a critical habitat differ from a habitat?

  • Appropriate answers will vary.

  • If there is additional time, discuss questions from the classifying objects activity.

Individualized Instruction/Scaffolding

English Language Learners will be supported in this lesson through data-based heterogeneous grouping, verbal and written repetition of new vocabulary words, and multiple representation of vocabulary words through printed images and video.

Ecosystems, Biomes, and Habitats PowerPoint and Activities
Classifying Animals PowerPoint & Activities
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