Marie Curie Math & Science Center
Danielle Cocozza Group 1a

The subject and grade level that this unit aims for.
Science - Habitats; Grade One

Commencement content standard

  • Standard 2: Information Systems

Students will access, generate, process and transfer information using appropriate technologies.  

  • Standard 3: Mathematics - Modeling/Multiple Representation

Students use mathematical modeling/multiple representation to provide a means of presenting and communicating mathematical information.

  • Standard 4: Science

Students will understand and apply scientific concepts, principles and theories pertaining to the physical setting and living environment and recognize the historical development of ideas in science.

  •   Standard 6: Common Themes: Models
  • Standard 7: Interdisciplinary Problem Solving

Benchmark standards
Content standards


  • Students will use software to display and communicate information in different forms using text, pictures and sound.
  • Students will use information technology to retrieve and communicate information, and as a tool to enhance learning.
  • Students will analyze real word data in a graph.
  • Students will use mathematical modeling/multiple representation to provide a means of presenting and communicating mathematical information.
  • Students will understand and communicate how animals depend upon each other and their physical environment.
  • Through systems thinking, students will build a model to recognize that commonalities exist.
  • Students will demonstrate skills and strategies for interdisciplinary problem solving by working together effectively to realize their ideas and present their results.

 Performance standards

  • Students will independently open and operate a software program in order to access information on various habitats.
  • Students will analyze a teacher-made graph to determine that populations of habitats change according to physical, environmental factors.
  • Students will accurately describe how animals depend upon each other and their physical, non-living environment.
  • Students will use a model to represent various aspects of habitats in the real world.
  • Students, as a group, will brainstorm, plan and stay on task as they construct a model and communicate the results.

Content standards or outcomes 

  • Information about habitats can be obtained through use of computer technology.
  • Different habitats have different characteristics.
  • Habitats are composed of important components: food and water, shelter, and space.
  • All components of a habitat need to occur in order for an animal to exist there.
  • Changes to a habitat can endanger the existence of animals.
  • Knowledge of the "real" world can be shared with the use of models.


Performance Outcomes

  • Ability of student to access habitat information upon request, using the program Eyewitness Encyclopedia of Nature.
  • Oral descriptions of various habitats.
  • Completion of habitat pie graph worksheet (attached).
  • Completion of "Animal Needs" worksheet (attached).
  • Ability to describe effects of changes in habitat upon animals.
  • Student diorama of chosen animal habitat.
  • Rubric

Enabling Activities:

Over a two-week period, the following activities may be used to familiarize first grade students with the concept of habitats. The unit begins with a read-aloud which draws upon the children's prior knowledge about homes. Daily discussions are suggested as a way of connecting the new information with any other information the students may have. You may want to concentrate upon habitats with which the students are familiar - i.e. habitats they see or live near.

Some of the ideas and activities in this unit were taken from:

Project WILD
K- 1 2 Activity Guide
5430 Grosvenor Lane, Suite 230
Bethesda, Maryland 20814-2142

Lesson One Introduction
Time: 20 - 30 Minutes
Materials: Percy and the Five Houses by Else Holmelund Minarik (Greenwillow Books, New York, 1989)

Procedure (Day One):

To begin the unit on animal habitats, read to the students the book Percy and the Five Houses. In the story, Percy (a beaver) is enticed by a wily fox into buying various new homes, none of which are suited to his particular needs. Ultimately, Percy realizes his dam is the best home for him.

The class should discuss reasons why Percy discovers this home is good for him, and then construct an experience chart outlining what they know about animal homes. This is a valuable assessment tool for the teacher, as it lends the opportunity to correct any misconceptions the student hold, as well as providing a springboard for the next activity.

Lesson Two Arrangements and Habitats
Time: Two Days, 20 -30 minutes each day
Materials: Drawing materials (paper and crayons)

At the conclusion of this activity, students should understand that, while each animal requires food, water, shelter and space to survive, each species must have these available in a suitable arrangement.

Procedure (Day Two):

Ask the students to dray a picture of where they live. They should include in these pictures the things they need to live where they do; i.e. a place to cook and keep food, a place to sleep, the neighborhood where they obtain things.

When the drawings are finished, have the students share what they drew. Underscore the importance of the kitchen (as a place to eat), and the bedroom (as the place to sleep). Ask the questions:

"What do you do if there is no food left in your house?"
"Where do you go if it is rainy or cold outside?"
"Where does your family go to get things they need?"

The answers to these questions should allow you to introduce the components of a habitat: food and water, shelter and space. Display the drawings for students to refer to during the next day's activities.

Procedure (Day Three):

Using the drawings, review with students the components of a habitat. Be sure to clarify that, to an animal, space is similar to a person's neighborhood. Have children close their eyes and imagine: a bird's home, a polar bear's home, a lizard's home. Ask a student to describe each of those homes aloud. Summarize the discussion by emphasizing that, although the homes are different, every animal needs its own home.

 Lesson Three Medial Assessment, Preview of Software
Time: 20 minutes, 15-20 minutes
Materials: Habitat Pie Graph Worksheet (attached), software program entitled "Eyewitness Encyclopedia of Nature"
In addition, you may allot extra time to use the Animal Needs Worksheet (also attached)


Procedure (Day Four):

Explain that students will choose an animal, and use the pie graph worksheet to explain the components of that animal's habitat. Distribute the worksheets and have students choose and then write the name of their animal in the space provided at the bottom of the sheet. Encourage the students to fill in the necessary information by drawing and labeling each section accordingly. The resulting graphs should communicate: one-third food and water; one-third shelter; one-third space. If the teacher so chooses, a graph representing fourths may be used instead.

When the class is finished, the worksheets should be collected for teacher assessment.

Move the children to the technology center, and preview with them the program "Eyewitness Encyclopedia of Nature". In this program, there is a section specifically allotted to habitats. Demonstrate to the students how to enter the program, and gain access to the habitats they choose to investigate (this is an opportunity to point out habitats in specific geographic locations, perhaps for use in a social studies unit). Students will see how to open and close applications within the program to gather information about specific habitats.


Lesson Four Software Investigation
Time: 30-45 minutes
Materials: Multiple Computers with Software Program "Eyewitness Encyclopedia of Nature"

Procedure (Day Five):

Allow students to explore various habitats through use of the computer program. Students should use this time to discover characteristics of different habitats ( our three were desert, arctic, and forest), i.e. the desert is hot and sandy, with very little rain. Students should be encouraged, though, to "visit" as many habitats as they like.

Students should be able to independently access the program, as well as the information they are seeking.

Lesson Five Do changes to a habitat affect the animals living there?
Time: Three days, time varies from 20 to 40 minutes
Materials Day Six - large outdoor space (or gym), graph paper

Day Seven - graph made from day six, preferably transferred to chart paper Day Eight - feathers, cooking oil, water, container

By the end of these three activities, students should understand that both physical and nonphysical changes to a habitat affect the animals which live there.

 Procedure (Day Six):
This activity should take 30-40 minutes, outdoors or in a large indoor space.
Begin by reviewing the components of a habitat. Tell the students they are going to be participating in an activity which will show how important the food and water, and shelter facets of a habitat are to an animal. Emphasize the importance of a suitable arrangement of the components in a habitat.

Have students count off in fours. All the ones go to one area; all twos, threes and fours go together to another area. Mark two parallel lines about ten yards apart. The ones line up behind one line; the rest of the students line up behind the other line.

The ones become "deer". All deer need a good habitat in order to survive. Ask the students what the essential components of a habitat are again: food and water, shelter and space in a suitable arrangement. For the purposes of this activity, we assume the "deer" have enough space in which to live. The deer need to find food, water and shelter in order to survive. When a deer is looking for food, it should clamp its hands over its stomach. When it is looking for water, it puts its hands over its mouth. When it is looking for shelter, it holds its hands together over its head. A deer can choose to look for any one of its needs during each round or segment of the activity; the deer cannot, however, change what it is looking for; e.g. when it sees what is available during that round. It can change what it is looking for in the next round, if it survives.

The twos, threes and fours are food water and shelter - components of habitat. Each students gets to choose at the beginning of each round which component he or she will be during that round. The students depict which component they are in the same way the deer show what they are looking for; that is, hands on the stomach for food, etc.

The activity starts with all players lined up on their respective lines (deer on one side, habitat components on the other side) - and with their backs to the students at the other line.

The teacher begins the first round by asking all of the students to make their signs - each deer deciding what it is looking for, each habitat component deciding what it is. Give the students a few moments to choose their sign.

When the students are ready, count: "One ... two ... three!"At the count of three, each deer and each habitat component turn to face the opposite group, continuing to hold their signs clearly.

When deer see the habitat component they need, they are to run to it. Each deer must hold the sign of what it is looking for until getting to the habitat component person with the same sign. Each deer that reaches its necessary habitat component takes the "food", "water", or "shelter" back to the deer side of the line. This is to represent the deer's successfully meeting its needs, and successfully reproducing as a result. Any deer that fails to find its food, water, or shelter dies and becomes part of the habitat. That is, in the next round, the deer that died is a habitat component and so is available as food, water, or shelter to the deer who are still alive. If more than one deer reaches a habitat component first, the first to arrive survives. If a habitat component is not tagged, it remains where it is until the next round.

You begin the next round by having the deer and the habitat components choose their signs - they can be different from round to round. This should continue for 10-1 5 rounds. The teacher keeps track on the graph paper of how many deer there are in each round.

You may want to secretly notify the components in one round that there was a forest fire (leaving no shelter) or a drought (leaving no water). Keep track of these habitat factors on the graph paper as well.


Procedure (Day Seven):
This activity should be allotted 20 minutes.

The teacher will have transferred the information from the graph paper to a larger piece of chart paper for student viewing in the classroom. Prompt a discussion by asking if all habitat components were available in a certain year; students will use the chart as a tool to interpret that infon-nation. Students will discover that the deer population grew or diminished in relation to the arrangement of the habitat in that year.

Math Extension: Have individual student copies of the graph available. Compare the number of deer in one year to another, using most or least. You may also wish to have students add the first five years for a total population, etc.

 Procedure (Day Eight):
This activity should be allotted 20-30 minutes.

Students should be able to infer now that changes in habitat affect the animals living there. Ask students to imagine an arctic habitat, imagining that an oil spill has occurred there. Have them predict the outcomes of this disaster.

Using a feather and some cooking oil, illustrate how a bird diving for a fish dinner would be affected by this change in weight upon its feathers. Discuss the interdependence of living things in a habitat. Students will realize that each change in a habitat will create a domino effect upon the animals living there.

Extension: Illustrate an example of the food chain.

Technology Extension: Using the Internet, search for information on the Exxon Valdez disaster, and share this real-life example with the students. You may even e-mail a school in the area to inquire as to the far-reaching consequences the oil spill had upon that habitat.

Social Studies Extension: A project on habitat conservation.

Lesson Six Culminating Activity
Time: Two days, 30-45 minutes each day
Materials: shoeboxes, magazines, art supplies, books children can use as references

This activity will serve as a culminating assessment to the unit.

Students will be asked to create, in groups, a diorama of a particular habitat.

Divide students into groups of three or four. Give them each a small plastic animal(or picture of an animal), and ask them to make a model of that animal's habitat. Instruct the children that each member of the group should take part in the planning and assembling of their diorama. They will be expected to present and explain their creation to the class.

A teacher made rubric with a scale of one to four should be used to evaluate the presence of food and water, shelter and space in a suitable arrangement for each animal habitat.

Display and enjoy!

Teacher Observations:

This unit was en oyed by both the students and myself. It covers the essential information connected to animal habitats, but it has the potential to be extended in many different ways, and in many different subject areas. We are going on to study how plants play an important role in habitats as well.



St. Thomas Aquinas College, 125 Route 340, Sparkill NY 10976-1050