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Ready-Set-Tech: Biodiversity
Introducing Biodiversity | Endangered Species | Habitats | Global Cultural Diversity


A habitat provides all the basic requirements for the maintenance of life. It is a place where a plant or animal ”naturally lives and grows and includes the characteristics of the soil, water, climate and other plants and animals that make this possible.” The importance of understanding the fragility of a habitat is undeniable.

In this lesson students will discover and explore the complexities of habitats and the human impact on them.

Phillip Seymour
Phillip Seymour is a nationally recognized education trainer and consultant on visual perception and arts/media curriculum integration. He has taught in the New York City public schools and teaches and trains at national universities and educational institutions. Presently, Phillip is an instructor at New York University and the City University of New York.


Science, Social Studies, Geography, Technology, Language Arts, and Visual Arts

Grade Level: 3-6

Time: 5-6 hours

Materials: 2-3 computers with Internet access, LCD projector, printer, access to books and a library, notebooks and writing implements, art supplies for creating a book and dioramas, and maps of the world's countries and continents.








Students will:

• Learn about the various habitats of our world, their distinct features and plant and animal populations

• Learn where the various habitats of the world reside

• Engage in group research on endangered animals and habitats using books, magazines, the Internet, and field trips

• Represent the elements they are researching through drawing and other visual representations

• Create a class book and group dioramas displaying what they have learned in their study of habitats

• Express their thoughts, idea, and feelings about habitats through narrative and literacy engagement

• Learn cooperative research and oral reporting skills

Web sites:



Teachers can refresh their own knowledge on this topic by visiting the following web sites:

From the American Museum of Natural History:
•  http://AMNH.org/education/resources/
(Excellent explanation with world maps of the world's 9 major habitat types)

•  http://AMNH.org/education/resources/rfl.php
(Lesson “Spectrum of Habitats” PDF file. Excellent intro. to the nine world habitats with maps)

•  http://AMNH.org/education/resources/rfl.php
(Hall of Biodiversity Educators Guide PDF file. Great information on habitats/ecosystems)

•  http://AMNH.org/education/resources/
(Super site to introduce the big idea of biodiversity and habitat relationships)

Other great web resources:
•  http://library.thinkque s t.org/25014/english.index.shtml?tqskip1=1
(Great site listing endangered animals and where they are located)

•  http://kidsplanet.org/factsheets/map.html
(Excellent site of the endangered species of the world and their habitat and location)

•  http://nationalgeographic.com/geographyaction/habitats/
(Great virtual tour describing habitats from National Geographic)

•  http://nationa l geographic.com/
(National Geographic, great basic information on habitats)

•  http://nps.gov/pore/pdf/resourcepaper_habitat.pdf
(Excellent site with National Park Service defining habitats)

•  http://mbgnet.mobot.org/
(Super descriptive site covering major habitats/ecosystems of the world with clear explanations)

•  http://enature.com/main/home.asp
(Great site classifying animals/plants and insects with images and descriptions of habitats)

•  http://worldwildlife.org/windows/ecoregion/
(Well done map of the US ecoregions/habitats)

•  http://worldwildlife.org/species/species.cfm
(World Wildlife Fund list of endangered species)

•  http://nwf.org/wildlife/
(Great list of endangered animals in the US)

•  http://library.thinkquest.org/25014/english.index.shtml
(Really great image gallery of endangered species)

Books and Magazines:

•  http://nearctica.com/family/aday/adayat.htm
(Good book resources)

•  http://fetchbook.info/Juvenile_literature_Habitats.html
(Great list of books for habitat and endangered species)

•  http://school.discovery.com/lessonplans/programs/habitats/
(Look under suggested readings)


Tell the students they are going to learn about the world's habitats through investigating endangered animals.

Create a KWL chart. Brainstorm with the students to find previous knowledge of habitats and endangered animals. Record the student's responses on the chart.

Have the class play the game described on the following site that constructively demonstrates the elements of a habitat: water, food, shelter and space.
•  http://wildthingsfws.org/games/habitat_connection.pdf

Then introduce the concept regarding the interdependence of habitat and animal with this great multi-media site:
•  http://library.thinkquest.org/25014/english.index.shtml
(Begin with the web of life)

After the game and tour ask the students what they would like to know about habitats and endangered species. Write these responses on the KWL chart.

Choose, show and discuss the following web sites with virtual tours introducing habitats and endangered animals. While on the discovery tour have a large class map and individual student map to identify countries, continents and areas of the world that are mentioned. Great maps can be downloaded from the following site:
•  http://library.thinkquest.org/C0113340/main.php?section=biomes
(Look under biome then location and enlarge)

•  http://nationalgeographic.com/xpeditions/atlas/
(Great map to download for students)

During this introduction, have the students take notes in their individual journals.

Introductory sites. From the American Museum of Natural History

•  http://amnh.org/nationalcenter/Endangered/index.html
(Excellent introductory to the relationship between habitats and endangered species)

•  http://ology.amnh.org/biodiversity/goinggoinggone/index.html
(Great site demonstrating why habitats are decreasing)


•  http://uen.org/themepark/html/habitat/endhab.html
(Excellent slide show introduction to habitats around the world)

•  http://nationalgeographic.com/

(What are habitats and why are they unique)

•  http://library.thinkquest.org/25014/english.index.shtml
(Great virtual tour of animals in natural habitats)

•  http://library.thinkquest.org/
(Defines many reasons for habitat loss)

•  http://nationalgeographic.com/
(Really great introductory site of habitats around the world)

•  http://fws.gov/r5cbfo/schoolyd.htm
(Creating a schoolyard habitat)

•  http://refuges.fws.gov/refugeLocator.html
(Local refuges)



Break the students into groups of three or four and tell them they will be exploring and researching habitats in more detail. They are going to create a large class book about habitats that will present information both visually and in text. Each group report will become a chapter of the book by researching their particular habitat. They will be asked to prepare an oral/visual presentation for the class as well as a written/visual one. Visuals can come from downloading from the Internet, drawings or photographic images. The format of the book and chapters should be determined beforehand to give the groups an idea of how they will format their written presentation.

To begin the research each group chooses two to three animals from the list of endangered species that represent various habitats from around the world. They are not told which habitat the species comes from. The groups are told that through their investigation they must find the species habitat and include the following information:

•  A description of the habitat (physical description) and its geographic location on a map

•  Examples of the other animals and plants that live there

•  A description of the connection that exists between the habitat and the endangerment of the animal, and what is creating the problem

•  Visual representations of their animals and habitats (These can be either drawn, downloaded or printed photo images from web sites, magazines or books)

Student web site resources:
•  http://library.thinkquest.org/25014/english.index.shtml?tqskip1=1
(Great image gallery)

•  http://enchantedlearning.com/biomes/
(Very cool site for habitats, their components and maps of where they reside)

•  http://mbgnet.mobot.org/
(Excellent student friendly site speaking on habitats/ecosystems and their components)

•  http://nationalgeographic.com/
(Virtual tour and explanation of habitats, locations and components for student research)

•  http://enature.com/main/home.asp
(Easy site to select habitat life with descriptions and images)

•  http://cheetahspot.com/extinction.php
(Site on cheetahs)

•  http://pbs.org/tal/costa_rica/habitat.html
(Site specifically about rainforests)

•  http://pbs.org/americanfieldguide/
(Sophisticated site with virtual yours of various habitats)

•  http://pbs.org/americanfieldguide/

•  http://desertusa.com/animal.html
(Good site for desert research)

•  http://mbgnet.mobot.org/fresh/wetlands
(Informative site about the wetlands habitat)

•  http://endangered.fws.gov/media/spotlight.html
(Good list of some endangered species)

•  http://endangered.fws.gov/search.html
(Endangered species search engine)

•  http://images.fws.gov
(Site providing good images of endangered species)

•  http://mnh.si.edu/arctic/html/wildlife.html
(Good site for animals in the arctic habitat)

•  http://natzoo.si.edu/ConservationAndScience/
(List of endangered animals and their habitat

•  http://animaltrial.com
(Great site for animal facts and images)

•  http://library.thinkquest.org/25014/english.index.shtml
(Really great image gallery)

•  http://kidsplanet.org/factsheets/map.html
(Very good site listing animals, their habitats and images)

Development: Mentor the students during their research, paying attention to equal and cooperative group interaction and skills used for research. Remind the students of the book and chapter format they developed earlier.

Creating dioramas: As the students continue with their research have them begin thinking about creating their dioramas. The American Museum of Natural History offers a number of suggestions on the following web sites:

•  http://amnh.org/nationalcenter/online_field_journal
(Visual representations)

•  http://amnh.org/education/resources/
(Additional info for creating a diorama)

  Additional sites describing dioramas:
•  http://argos.k12.in.us/elementary/0304/ h abitats/habitats.htm
•  http://uwsp.edu/museum/lesson26.htm



Group presentation.
The groups compile their research and present their final reports to the class. The report is both visual and oral. Group presentation means each member participates in the dissemination. The class should take notes during each presentation in their journals. Book. The written/visual report will make a chapter in the class book. Use large construction paper backed by mat board for the book's pages. Keep the book large and visible. The binder can be a three or four ring to hold the pages together. Written entry should be typed. Assign roles in creating the book for the cover, table of contents, general assembly, visuals etc. Labeled images supporting the text should be included in the book, as well as a visual cover.

Dioramas: Having introduced the students to dioramas earlier, they begin the project of creating them from the information they researched, as well as the information presented by other groups. Labeled visuals from each group, the class book, and the research sources are excellent resources for their ideas. These should be large and displayed in the classroom or school with the class book and any additionally related activities.

Narrative and Literacy Engagement: Ask the students to write about habitats by choosing from a number of different narratives: poems, letters from explorers, points of view from a habitat element, a traveler exploring a habitat. Post these throughout the diorama display you have set up in the class or school.

There is a web site message board where students can post their narratives, as well as read others from students around the country. They can also post and answer questions, exchange visuals etc. The site is:
•  http://tenan.vuurwerk.nl/indexusa.htm

KWL Chart: Ask the students what they have learned from their study of habitats. The response should be written on the chart. Also be sure to ask them if there was more they would like to additionally know. This should be recorded as well.

Celebration: Set aside a day for the class to celebrate their study with parents, administration and fellow students. The oral presentations can be given at this time and the dioramas and habitat area in full display.


Each group presents a written and oral report on their study. Look for evidence of individual contribution to the oral and written reports. The groups and individuals should include the following information:

•  A description of the habitat (physical description) and its geographic location on a map

•  Examples of the other animals and plants that live there

•  A description of the connection that exists between the habitat and the endangerment of the animal, and what is creating the problem

•  Visual representations of their animals and habitats (These can be either drawn, downloaded or printed photo images from web sites, magazines or books)

Students contribution to the class mural.

Narrative and literacy contributions regarding learned ocean content.

Assessment of individual student journals.



Other lessons in this biodiversity unit include:
Introducing Biodiversity
Endangered Species

Global Cultural Diversity


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