Kindergarten students are eager to engage in hands-on science activities that making learning fun. Introduce the concept of habitats by explaining that animals have homes, just as people have homes. Children delight in hearing about diverse habitats that support plant and animal life, such as bat caves, swamps, polar caps and African jungles.
Also point out more familiar habitats such as ponds, lakes, forests and their own backyard. By the end of your animal habitat lesson plans, Kindergarten students should be able define habitats and match animals to their respective environments.
"Who am I?" Game
Explain that habitats provide air, water, food, and shelter that sustain living creatures. Define living versus nonliving. Go over an animal definition for Kindergarten students. What makes a dog an animal but not a mushroom?
Once you've don'e that setup, organize a game to help students understand habitats and the difference between living and nonliving things. Bring a brown bag to class with pictures of familiar objects in the environment. Examples include pictures of a baby animal, rabbit, tree, wind, sun and rocks.
Give each student a picture they must keep secret until it’s their turn to act it out in front of the class, pretending to be the object in the picture. Students will ask questions to guess their peer’s identity. For instance, children might ask, “Do you grow? Eat? Need air? Drink water? Have babies?”
Habitats of the World
Show pictures of a desert, jungle, Arctic Circle, savanna, and the ocean. Ask the children to guess how the habitats might differ. For example, children may suggest differences in the soil, number of trees, average temperature, and amount of water.
Identify a few of the common types of birds and animals that are found in those habitats. With animal habitat lesson plans, Kindergarten students do well with visuals. So ask each child to choose their favorite habit and draw a picture of it.
Instruct students to include the type of animals and birds they would expect to find residing there. For example, a child might draw penguins and polar bears fishing on an ice cap.
Animal Definition for Kindergarten: Animal Crackers
Combine snack time with a learning activity by giving each child a box of animal crackers. Most brands of animal crackers contain a variety of animals, such as:
Tape pictures of different habitats on the wall.
What's a Habitat? Backyard Adventure
Define habitat as a place where a particular type of animal lives. Ask the students, "What's a habitat?" and ask them to explain. Explain that animals have differing needs for food, water, shelter and space that make them better adapted to certain habitats over others. Lead the children outside to a grassy area and have them describe the living and nonliving things they observe.
For instance, children might mention grass, weeds, leaves, dirt, pine needles, moss, rocks, twigs, insects, birds, and squirrels. Encourage them to try and build a bird’s nest out of the materials they see. Explain that animals also use what’s available for their homes, which is why a bird’s nest in the desert would look different than a bird’s nest in the forest.
For the best animal habitat lesson plans, Kindergarten students need to be able to apply the knowledge to their own life. Encourage them to ask, "what's a habitat?" to themselves at home and see what they can find in their own backyard.
About the Author
Dr. Mary Dowd studied biology in college where she worked as a lab assistant and tutored grateful students who didn't share her love of science. Her work history includes working as a naturalist in Minnesota and Wisconsin and presenting interactive science programs to groups of all ages. She enjoys writing online articles sharing information about science and education. Currently, Dr. Dowd is a dean of students at a mid-sized university.