In this unit, students use observations to understand what animals and plants need to survive. Students explore how animals need things to eat and a safe place to live. They also investigate the needs of plants and how those might be different from the needs of animals.
In this lesson, students observe animal behaviors and work to discover a pattern: all animals seek food in order to survive. The activity, Eat Like an Animal, includes physical movement in which students act out animal behaviors, pretending to be quail scratching in the dirt, raccoons wading in the water, and woodpeckers pecking a log.
Make sure students have enough space to move around as they pretend to be different animals in the forest.
Since there’s so little prep for this activity, we recommend you also do one of the activities in the Extensions section. To understand what animals need, it’s important that children have a chance to observe them. You can provide that opportunity by attracting birds with a bird feeder, taking your class on a nature walk or field trip, or having your students observe animals through videos.
In this Read-Along lesson, Sofia wonders where animals live and goes for a walk in the woods to find out. The lesson includes a short exercise where students pretend to be squirrels and learn about their habitats. You can extend the lesson with the optional activity, Nature Nuggets, where students explore other animal homes.
In this lesson, students observe different animal behaviors and work to discover another pattern: all animals seek safety in order to survive. The activity, Gopher in a Hole, includes physical movement in which students pretend to be snails hiding in their shells, praying mantises scaring away predators, and gophers popping out of holes.
Make sure students have enough space to move around as they pretend to be different animals.
Since there’s so little prep for this activity, we recommend you plan on doing one of the activities in the Extensions. To understand how animals seek safety, it’s important that children have a chance to observe them. You can provide that opportunity by keeping pet snails, exploring a grassy lawn, going for a nature walk, or watching videos to learn what animals make their homes in a hole in a tree.
Read-Along Lesson 4: Animals & Changing the Environment
In this Read-Along lesson, Desiree notices all the holes in the trees around her house—and sets out to discover how they got there, and why they matter. The lesson includes a short exercise where students listen for animal sounds and pretend to be woodpeckers. You can extend the lesson with the optional activity, Nature Explorers, where students go for a nature walk and look for animals in their homes.
As an optional activity, we suggest you go on a nature walk. It doesn't have to be far from your classroom or home. You can find animal homes in a playground, a grassy lawn, a city park, or a small yard. Look for ant hills, spiderwebs, birds in the trees, and insects in the grass. We suggest bringing a notebook so that you can make a list of the animals that everyone sees.
THIS LESSON WAS REVISED ON JULY 24, 2020. If you've prepped prior to that date,
here is the link to the previous version.
In this lesson, students investigate what plants need to grow. In the two-part activity, Sprout a Seed, students plant radish seeds in paper cups. When the seeds sprout, students notice that the leaves of the young plants lean toward the light. A classroom root viewer made from a Ziploc bag and paper towels lets students observe root growth.
This is a two-part activity. We recommend that you allow at least four days (up to one week) in between Part One and Part Two of the experiment to give the radish seeds time to germinate. (To speed germination, soak the seeds in water overnight.)
You will need access to water and a sunny windowsill where the radish seeds can grow.
We recommend students work in pairs for this activity and share some supplies with another pair. Homeschool students can work on their own.
Prep Radish Seeds
For each group of four students, put a pinch of radish seeds (at least 15 seeds) in a Dixie cup.
Prep Dixie Cups
For each student, fill a Dixie cup halfway with moist potting soil. Or if you are using peat pellets, place one pellet in each cup, fill the cup with water, and let the pellet soak up the water for at least 30 minutes.
Prep Spray Bottles
In each spray bottle, mix about 1 cup of water with about ¼ teaspoon of baking soda. Adding baking soda will inhibit mold growth in the soil, but won’t affect the plants.
Prep Root Viewer
To give your students a way to see what their radish seeds are doing underground, you can make a root viewer. Here’s how:
*Fold paper towels and put them in a Ziploc bag.
*Add water until the towels are saturated.
*Place three seeds on top of the wet paper towel.
*Squeeze the air out of the bag and zip it closed.
*Tape the bag to a wall or window and encourage your students to check each day for roots growing from the seeds.
Plan Your Time
After students complete Part One of this activity, they will need to wait at least four days for the seeds to sprout. Each day, encourage your students to watch the seeds in the root viewer as a way to see what is happening to their seeds under the soil in the cup.
When most of the leaves have come up, show Part Two of the activity. If you like, you can have your students draw the plants as they grow and change.
Read-Along Lesson 6: Human Impacts on the Environment
In this Read-Along lesson, Sam wonders why his grandmother wants to keep an old log in her yard—until he begins to meet a few of her friends. The lesson includes a short exercise where students pretend to be lizards eating ants, and discover why old logs are helpful to animals. You can extend the lesson with the optional activity, Animal Visitors, where students learn what they could put in a yard or park to attract animals.
As an optional activity, we suggest having students discuss what they could put in a yard or park to attract animals. We include videos that show birds in a birdbath, at a bird feeder, and in a bird house, reinforcing the idea that animals are are attracted to spots that offer food, water, and shelter.
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