Exploring Animals and Their Environments

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Biology In Elementary Schools is a Saint Michael's College student project from a course that ran between 2007 and 2010 and fully described in this book chapter. The student-created resources have been preserved here for posterity. Link under 'toolbox' for printer-friendly versions of the exercises. Click on handouts to print full resolution versions. Please see Wikieducator's disclaimer, our safety statement, and the Creative Commons licensing in English and in legalese.

Student worthiness

Tried and Trusted

Primary biological content area covered

Students will be exposed to multiple types of animals and habitats. Also, Students will be able to understand camouflage and why animals need to blend into their environment.
The types of habitats presented are:
  • Desert
  • Tide Pool
  • Jungle
  • Savanna
  • Forest
  • Pond
Figure 1: Animals in the World Source-WikiMedia Commons Uploaded by Erleellis


Materials for Students
  • One large piece of paper for each group
  • Colored Pencils
  • Crayons
  • Markers
  • Handout for each student
Materials for Teaching
  • "I See A Kookaburra" by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page
Figure 2 A Picture of our Supplies


There will be a list of animals and their habitats that will be handed out while students are creating their drawings. This will help students classify what types of animals would like each habitat being drawn. This handout can also serve as a homework assignment if there is not enough time to complete it during class.

File:Exploring Animals and Their Habitats Handouts.PDF

Figure 3- What Do Animals Eat?

Description of activity

Students will classify the types of habitats that were read in the story. The teacher will write the list on the board and assign each group with a different habitat. The students will then begin to draw the habitat on a large piece of paper. Each student within the groups will be coloring and creating the habitat. At this time each student will also choose an animal that lives in their habitat and draw the animal where they think it would be most happy in their environment. When finished, the students will look at the list of animals provided (the handout) and classify which animals would fit into the specific habitat that they created. Students will present the animals and discuss why they would do well in that type of habitat. (ex: camouflage, easy access to food and water, etc.)

Lesson plan

  1. Students will be read "I See A Kookaburra" by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page
  2. Students will discuss what a habitat is and why certain animals live in certain places
  3. Students will be split up into four groups and each group will be given a large piece of paper
(This is what can be done with an entire class. Since there were many activities going on at once we only had 4-7 students doing our activity at a time so we had them all draw on the same large paper)
  1. Students will draw a specified habitat
  2. Students will decide which animals live in their specific habitat and explain their choices to the class
  3. Students will then create their own animal that would live in their specific habitat drawn and explain why their created animal would like that habitat and what forms of camouflage the animal has, what types of food the animal eats, etc.
  4. Students will be given a handout with different animals listed
Figure 4:Activity in Action

Potential pitfalls

Some difficulties may be that they create animals that could never exist, they may confuse habitats such as drawing a beach in the middle of the jungle, or they could place animals in the wrong environment and not understand why they would not live there. These difficulties, however, are fairly minor and can be overcome by further explanations,descriptions of habitats, and what certain kinds of animals need to survive. To avoid these pitfalls all together spend more time, as needed, focusing on different habitats and animals before asking the students to draw habitats and their own animals themselves.

Art connections

The students will create their own habitats based off four of the six habitats introduced in the book we read. Each student will paticipate in drawing a particular habitat and an animal of their choice on large paper using crayons, markers, and colored pencils. They will also be asked to color the animals found on their handouts.

Literature connections

Jenkins, Steve and Robin Page. "I See A Kookaburra". Boston:Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005.
This book examines six habitats found throughout the world and a few of the animals that inhabit them. There are five dump pages at the back of the book containing more detailed information about each animal mentioned in the book and a map showing where each habitat in the book can be located around the world.

Math Connections

This activity can be related to math through use of Venn Diagrams. Students can create Venn Diagrams in groups and will draw circles to represent the habitats covered throughout the activity. Circles will overlap where habitats share commonalities such as water, trees, heat, cold, etc. Math will then be used to divide areas within the Venn Diagram and when comparing and contrasting the habitat environments.

Figure 5- A Venn Diagram

Connections to educational standards

1.13.c Respond through discussion, writing, and using art forms.
2.1.c Ask questions that compare and contrast, to determine similarities and differences.
Approach Information
2.7 Students respond to new information by reflecting on experience and reconsidering their opinions and sources of information.
3.10 Students perform effectively on teams that set and achieve goals, conduct investigations, solve problems, and create solutions (e.g. by using consensus- building and cooperation to work toward group decisions).
7.1.e Explain a variety of observations and phenomena using concepts that have been learned.
7.1.h Identify problems, purpose and implement solutions, and evaluate products and designs.
7.1.i Work individually and in teams to collect and share information and ideas.

Next steps

The great thing about the materials used in this activity is that you can find so many other activities to use them for after! Large paper, markers, crayons, and colored pencils can be used for endless ideas in the classroom from art projects, language arts activities, science connections, even math! The handouts can be used as a guide for the students when thinking about the habitats of different animals they encounter in their lives. From student input and questions we can further our exploration of habitats by spending more time looking in depth at particular environments or animals. Students can take the information they learned from this activity and apply it to their everyday lives as they encounter animals where they live or in the places they visit!


This activity worked well with each group we went through it with although we did make some minor adjustments when faced with shorter time frames and students who could not agree on one habitat to create. As we had less time for a few groups we stopped reading "I See a Kookaburra" thoroughly and instead looked briefly at the pictures and read the names of the animals rather than the descriptions about them. We did not expect the time slots to decrease so we were a little disappointed that we could not put the same amount of time and effort into each group. A few of the students knew what habitat meant while others understood the idea of where animals live without knowing that is specifically called a habitat. The students enjoyed being able to draw their own animals into a habitat and many knew quite a bit about where certain animals can be found, but they did not know too much about why they would not live in other habitats. The first groups were able to form a consensus on what habitat they wanted to draw on the large paper. However, the later groups were a little bigger and they had more trouble deciding as a group what to draw. Instead we cut the large paper into equal pieces so each student could draw whichever habitat thy wanted on their own. We did not have time to do much with the worksheets so at the end of the lesson we handed out the worksheets so they could bring them back home with them to color and learn more about habitats.

Citations and links

Jenkins, Steve and Robin Page.2005. "I See A Kookaburra." Houghton Mifflin Books for Children.
I See A Kookaburra by Steve Jenkins