Explain the Zoo Habitat- Create a Floor Plan, Prepare the Presentation

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Students will be able to use scientific reasoning to justify their zoo habitat decisions.

Big Idea

In order to share ideas about animal conservation, students need to develop their presentation skills.

Lesson Timing

1 minutes

This is not a one hour lesson.  If students complete all of this work in class, it can easily take a week of 1 hour a day sessions, at the least.  I've partitioned the different components of the final project into 20 minute segments because if you present it only, and students do the rest of the work independently, that is how much time each of the introductions would take.

Developing a Floor Plan

20 minutes

Students will work to develop their floor plan over the course of at least a week. Today I introduce them to the assignment parameters, and provide them with background about real zoo habitat design.  In order to give them a real-world perspective on how architects and conservators draw up zoo plans, I show them these zoo habitat examples.  I ask them to observe the elements present, and absent, from these habitats and also encourage them to determine what questions we need to ask to determine if the habitat is indeed appropriate.  This is a brief explanation of how I engage the students in this content:


I provide students with graph paper to use in representing a scaled model of their habitat. This student’s scale was 1 square length = 3 feet.  He didn’t put it on his map.

The students make the habitat the appropriate size, include plants that are useful for food or shelter, provide food, water, and if needed, built in enrichment.  You can see that this student also allowed for animal privacy by setting up different viewing areas to be used at specific times.

Animal Poem

15 minutes

This takes at least 40 minutes.  I guide the students through this activity verbally.  I do not give them the guidelines below.  Those are to remind me of the components I them to include in their poem.  I write an example up on the board, using an animal that doesn't resemble any of those chosen by the students.  For your use, I've included a student sample of a poem written about an okapi that follows this mental template.

Preparing the Presentation

20 minutes

While I have students complete many online presentations, I chose to a presentation board format in this situation.  I believe in balance, and I also recognize that there is a lot of value in the kinesthetic and aesthetic experience of creating a visual presentation.  This is something that is lost when everything is one step-removed online.

Students complete the following components for their presentation board:

  • floorplan, to scale, with key identifying all important elements of the animal's zoo habitat
  • paragraph about the animal's general characteristics
  • paragraph about why the animal has become endangered
  • poem about the animal
  • opinion essay (1 paragraph) on the benefits and/or disadvantages of zoos
  • attractive header

Public Speaking Practice

20 minutes

My students presented their zoo projects at an end of the year showcase for the gifted program. If that were not an option, I would have organized a parent night, invited community members, and asked other classes to visit us and ask questions as well.  

Students were prepared to answer questions about their animal's general characteristics, why it's endangered, where it lives (geographic and habitat requirements), and how they would design a zoo habitat for this animal if no other options were available.