Students become animal and plant experts as they explore and compare plant and animal life near water with that in the desert. (When you select the habitat with water, it can be based on your own environment, the availability of webcams for virtual trips, or the printed material you have available). They will focus on the amount of wildlife (easy to find? hidden?), physical appearances (color, shape of leaves), and behaviors (hunting at night? day?). They will also observe and record the physical attributes of the environment.
This can be accomplished with field trips (real or virtual), through books, or with videos. The choice will depend on your location, the time of year, as well as your resources. Many zoos and wildlife centers sponsor free webcam sites that will allow your students to observe nature from the classroom.
Once they identify the plant and animal life, they will make observations on why there are differences based on habitat. Students will create a collage or mural of their results.
Students will be asked to compare plant and animal life near water with that in the desert.
Core Idea 2-LS4-1: Make observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats.
LS2.A: Interdependent relationships in ecosystems
LS4.D: Biodiversity and humans
ELA/Literacy W2.8: Recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.
For real field trips:
- Camera for recording images
For virtual field trips:
- Address for webcams
For book trips:
- A variety of age-appropriate pictures, books, magazines, and other text resources
For all methods:
- Science Notebooks to record/draw observations (depending on the age of ability of your students, you may want to provide worksheets to help students collect information)
- Chart paper and markers
- Variety of plant and animal images for sorting and collage
- Large roll for murals
- Markers, glue, and other art supplies
- Provide a picture prompt (projected or from a book) and encourage students to observe the plant and animal life. Collect their responses in a chart.
- Explain to the students that they will have the chance to explore two different habitats. Their job is to record information about the plant and animal life. They will record their observations (both text and drawings) in their science notebook. Encourage them to draw and label pictures.
- If using picture books, distribute the books and have the students work in small groups to explore and record their observations.
- If using a virtual field trip (i.e., webcam), project the video and pause periodically to allow children to make observations.
- If using videos, play the clips and pause to encourage students to make observations.
- If taking a field trip, familiarize the students with all safety concerns. Students should only make observations and not touch or collect any specimens.
- Using a T-chart, label one side “desert” and the other “habitats with water.” Have students share their observations (from whatever source). When you have enough data to draw conclusions, the following questions might be helpful:
- Where did you see the most plant life? Animal life? Why?
- How were the two sets of animals different? (i.e., coloration? nests?)
- How were the two sets of animal the same?
- How were the two sets of plants different? (i.e., leaf shapes, sizes, waxy covering)
- How were the two sets of plants the same?
- If you were an animal, where would you want to live and why?
- If you were a plant, where would you want to live and why?
- Students will create collages or murals representing both environments. Students may caption their work.
- For a differentiated assessment, provide various images from both habitats, and have students sort and label.
Photograph the student work and create a digital portfolio of the work. This could then be incorporated to a digital storytelling application and include voice and video.