I begin this lesson by calling the kids to sit on the floor one table at a time. I ask the kids to think silently for a moment to see if they can remember what a habitat is and if they can remember any examples of a habitat. I then go over the definition of a habitat that they can understand:
A habitat is a place where a plant or animal lives.
We then go over the poster that we made in the first lesson on habitats. We talk about each habitat listed and at least one type of animal that can be found living there.
I explain to the kids that today we are going to learn about an ecosystem called the woods or forest. I tell them that an ecosystem is a place where different kinds of animals can live together.
I have the kids help me create an ecosystems chart by listing the following ecosystems on chart paper:
I call on volunteers to give me animals that they think might live in the woods. For this lesson I ONLY list animals in the woods column. We will fill in the rest of the chart in the lessons that follow.
I teach this section this way to get the kids hearing and using proper science vocabulary as well as getting their brains primed for thinking about woodland creatures.
It also prepares the kids for the game they will play in the next section.
I have the kids remain on the floor while I explain the directions for the exploration to them.
I first go over the procedures:
Exploration directions (I demonstrate as I explain):
I then call one table at a time to go sit down with their envelope. Once all the teams are working, I roam the room to monitor group interactions, participation and answer any questions they may have about the animals.
Once all the teams are finished working, I call the kids back to the floor one table at a time. I have the table leaders bring me their envelope with all the animals in it.
I use one of the sets of cards to go over the animals with the kids. I use a pocket chart with a "yes" card and a "no" card as headers. I hold up one animal card at a time and ask the kids to show me a thumbs-up if it is a woodland animal and a thumbs-down if it is not. If they agree that the animal is a woodland animal, I place the card under the "yes" card; if it is not, I place it under the "no" card. If there is not consensus as to whether a specific animal is woodland or not, we have a quick discussion about the animals needs and decide if they match what the woods has to offer.
Once we are finished sorting the animals as a whole group, we go over each animal in the "yes" column and discuss where in the woods it lives and why this habitat is the best one for it. I call on random volunteers to contribute. We stop at the end of 10 minutes even if we haven't discussed all the animals.
Doing the whole group review this way allows me to elicit prior knowledge as well as what they learned from their interactions with their table friends. It also allows my second language learners and my resource kids to hear other students model scientific discussions for them.
The kids remain seated on the floor. I refer back to the pocket chart and use the animal cards to explain why the woods is the best home for the rest of the animals under the yes card.
I talk to them about camouflage, thickness of fur, what they eat, their vision and hearing, and how much water they need.
I then refer to a few of the animals under the no card so they can see the stark difference in needs between the animals.
I do it this way because most of the kids already know which animals live in the woods, but most don't know WHY it's the best habitat for those animals. This way we can talk about food sources, climate and shelter.
The evaluation for this lesson is a woods scene and a sheet of animals, some woodland and some not. The kids are asked to determine which animals live in the woods and to cut them out and glue them in the proper location in the woods, e.g. a rabbit would be glued to the ground.When all the animals are glued in the proper place, they are to glue the entire scene into their science journal.
I begin this section by calling the table leaders up to get science journals for everyone who sits at their table. I then dismiss kids to their tables by teams; my tables are color-coded.
I have the kids look up from their tables as I do a quick demonstration of how the job should be done. I walk the room and pass out a scene and an animal page to each student.
As the kids work, I roam the room to ask them questions like, "Why are you gluing that animal in the tree? Why would that animal need to live in a tree?"
When all of the kids are finished with their journals, we gather back on the floor. I again call them one table team at a time. I have the kids turn to their floor partner and compare where they placed all the animals that are woodland creatures. They also check to see if they both used the same animals.
To close the lesson, I use my doc cam to place a copy of the scene up for viewing (just tape one up if you don't have access to a doc cam), and I pull random names from a name stick can to call on kids to tell me where to put each animal in the scene. I also go over the animals that we did NOT use, such as a fish because it needs to live in water.
I have the kids check their journals as we go over each animal and why it lives where it does.