What it is: I am a fan of everything PBS does, recently I ran across this gem while looking for some activities that help students learn about habitats. Draw that Habitat is SO much more engaging than most of the “match the animal to the correct habitat” lower level thinking “games” (if you can call them that) that are out there. In Draw that Habitat, students are introduced to imaginary animals. They are briefed on the animal and its needs and are then given drawing tools to create a habitat. Each month a new imaginary animal is introduced. This month’s challenge is an animal called a Flarch. During the activity students learn that a habitat is a place that an animal lives where they get food and water, find shelter, search for a mate, and raise babies. Students are asked to think about how and where the imaginary animal gets food and water, where it keeps safe from weather and other animals, etc. What I love about this activity is that it calls on student’s creativity and imaginations. They are asked to come up with a solution for an imaginary animal and in the process learn about habitats, camouflage, and adaptation. When students are finished with their habitat, they can share it with other students and view and rate the habitats that others have created.
How to integrate Draw That Habitat into the classroom: Draw that Habitat is a great little activity for primary students who are learning about habitats, camouflage, and adaptations. It is probably best to use Draw that Habitat after students have a general understanding of what a habitat is. This is a place where they can solidify that understanding and expand on what they have learned by creating something new. I like the abstract nature of the activity, they aren’t creating a habitat for a known, real animal; instead, students are coming up with new solutions based on some key information they are given. This gives students a chance to think critically, problem solve, and use some creativity and imagination.
In a one to one setting where each student has access to a computer, each student can create a habitat for the month’s challenge. When students are finished, have a class parade, where students walk through and view the different solutions that classmates came up with. Students can explain why they made the choices they did and see what other solutions might work.
In a one or two computer classroom, students can visit Draw that Habitat as a learning center in small groups. Students at the learning center can each contribute to the habitat.
If you don’t have access to computers for students to visit, create a class habitat using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computers. Each student in the class can add to the habitat and describe how their contribution is important for the animal who lives in the habitat.
As an extension activity, students can write a story about the imaginary animal and its habitat.
This site is intended for younger students (early elementary), but don’t discount it’s usefulness in upper-grades. I find that when drawing-coloring are involved, students of all ages get excited about it- I have had 6th graders jump on this site and have a great time creating a habitat (they were jealous the younger kids got to do the activity and they didn’t- reminding me once again that kids like opportunities to play and be creative!).
Tips: Students can save the habitat they create offline as a .jpg file. Click the “save” button to download.
Please leave a comment and share how you are using Draw that Habitat in your classroom!