Every living organism has a habitat. A habitat is the environment in which an organism, or species, naturally makes its home. Outside factors, such as urbanisation, pollution and climate change, can force a species to adjust to a new habitat. Learning about habitats increases environmental awareness in kids and the effects that they, and their communities, have on the world around them.
Draw 10 squares in a line on a sidewalk with chalk; the sequence is one square, two squares then repeat. Label the squares 1 through 10. Create a 1 through 10 list where 1 is the starting location of species' migration, 10 is the ending point of the migration, and 2 through 9 are different regions along the way. Have kids play the hopscotch game one time. Explain two situations, such logging or urbanisation, that occur in two particular regions. Cross out the squares that coincide with the regions and have the contestants play the game again. Continue, explaining situations and crossing out squares, two at a time. The game becomes more difficult, and kids begin to understand how changes in habitat affect migration.
Purchase a number of toy animals, reptiles and birds. The toys should be about 6 inches tall: if they are too large, they will be difficult to hide; and if they are too small, they will be difficult to find. Hide the animals around a yard or park in their appropriate habitats, for example, a snake in the grass, a bird in a tree and a frog near a pond. Challenge kids to locate the animals in their habitats. Each animal found is worth one point but only if the finder can name the animal and describe its habitat correctly. For older kids, leave animals in more specific locations, such as a certain type of tree or bush that the animal favours.
Real Life Habitats
Create a butterfly habitat out of wood, indoor netting and natural objects. Purchase butterfly larvae from a pet store and place them in the butterfly habitat. Care for the butterflies, and watch them grow and change. Remember that different butterflies require different habitats so be sure to research your specific variety. Alternatively, create a garden in your backyard with plants native to the region. Observe the garden over time and record any wildlife seen, plants eaten by local wildlife, and how changes in temperature and season affect the garden itself. Both of these activities require quite a bit of space but can be highly educational for kids.
Where Do I Live?
Designate, either with a sign or with decorations, different areas of a room, yard or park as various habitats. Create cards with animal, bird, reptile and plant names printed on them. Hand one out to each child. Ring a bell or clap your hands to signal kids to go and find the habitat for their animal. Those who choose the correct habitat score a point. The first student to reach the habitat receives an additional point. Collect the cards, shuffle and pass them out again. This game is better played in yards or parks, using local wildlife and habitats.