Habitats Project: Introduction

Presented by ePals and National Geographic
Project Index???| ? {projectsubnav}
Engage, Activate Prior Knowledge and Build Context
??Project Calendar ??First
Introduce Habitats TIME:?Two 35-40 minute blocks??
Engage: Create a resource-learning center dedicated to habitats, including relevant books, articles, pictures, etc. and a computer set up with links to relevant websites. To help your students start to think about habitats, ask them to go outside and observe the weather, animal, and plant life around them. Students do this outside their classrooms or by visiting habitats near their schools, such as parks, tide pools, etc. Have your students note their observations on the observation handouts. Create three wall charts ? Animals ? Humans ? Plants. Ask students to tell you what they noticed about each of the categories during their outside observations. Chart their responses.

Activate Prior Knowledge: Next, ask your students to jointly define the word ?habitat? and guide them so that they conclude with a definition that is something similar to this: "A habitat is a place where plants, humans, and animals get food, water, shelter, and living space." ?If your students are struggling, ask?one student to look?"habitat" up in a dictionary or on the web and read?the definition?to the class. Next,?establish prior knowledge about specific kinds of habitats by posting images of each of the following habitats: city and suburbs, prairies and grasslands, forests (temperate forests and tropical rain forests), deserts and tundras, fresh water, oceans and coasts. Ask students to identify each of the habitats by name. Label the habitats with a side chart and leave room for students to post comments about the habitats.

Divide students into small groups and ask them to learn more about a particular habitat using their habitat handouts as a reference guide. Tell them it is important to note the places where habitats are located. They can use their books as a resource or check out the websites noted in the ?Related Resources? tab.

Urban Habitats,
Rain Forests,
Fresh Water,
Oceans and Coasts,
and Prairies.

Give each student a world map. Ask students to shade in where their particular habitat occurs on a world map as they do their research. Each group can share their findings and discuss any patterns they see. Instruct students to save these maps as they will need them again for email #5.

Post the essential questions on chart paper labeled: Before, During, and After. Ask your students for answers to the essential questions and date them. Have your students write their preliminary answers to the supporting questions (you may want to create a supporting questions handout). Date the responses and explain to the students that they will be adding to these columns throughout the unit.

Build Context: Explain to your students that they will be studying habitats with students who live outside their geographic area. Each classroom will study habitats and their characteristics in??the other?classroom?s country. Students will exchange emails with their ePals about various elements of the habitats and the animals and plants that live within them. They will describe their personal experiences with the habitats.