Video segment about me, by the school district

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Having Fun with Habitats

One of my favorite units to teach in science is habitats.  I think over the years I've gotten better and better at incorporating all of the subjects within my habitat unit.  The books in the carousel above are perfect for any habitat unit, especially because of the new Common Core Standards.  I love them because of the realistic, vivid illustrations and the simple, factual text on each page.  My students were really engaged as we read these books to them, and they asked many intelligent questions that led to more in-depth study about sharks, scorpions, and poisonous frogs and snakes.

I really like starting my lesson off with the songs "Habitat" by Walkin' Jim Stoltz, "Habitat Scat" by Mar Harman, and "Habitat Homes" by Dr. Jean.  I then read one of the habitat books from the carousel above.  Next I use a giant graphic organizer, either on a chart with realistic pictures or on the floor with plastic animals.  Here is a lesson plan that I think will thoroughly describe exactly what I do.  We have to do full-out lesson plans at our school, and this lesson plan was especially tweaked for an ESOL class that I'm taking.  I hope it's useful.

I wanted to do some writing mixed with science, and I found that my students kept asking me how to spell the names of animals found in the various habitats that we were doing.  I decided to make sentence starters with word banks so that I could really concentrate on circulating around the room and finding out if my children understood what a habitat was.  The papers worked beautifully.  Here is a sample of one that you can use with your kids:

I put up a whole Animal Habitat Unit on TPT including a writing prompt for a multitude of habitats and some graphic organizers.  If you buy this unit, here are some teaching tips to make things run really smoothly.  The first day that I used one of these writing prompts, a few of my students decided to rewrite the initial prompt.  I should have modeled for them on the Visualizer how to complete the prompt.  I learned my lesson, however, and I did that every day after the first time.  After the first writing prompt, I pulled some samples to show to the students.  I sort of used them as anchor charts to help the students to know what a high score would look like and what I expected from them.  My students caught on really quickly.  They started critiquing each other's work.  I heard comments such as "Oh, if you want a good grade on that you have to use more color," and "Maybe you could label your picture; Mrs. Dudley might like that."

Finally, here are a few Animal Habitat Books that you might want to take a look at.

Please let me know what you think, or if you have any questions.