This post is going to be formatted a little differently than most are-so fair warning. 🙂 I do a lot of digging for resources and tools for our inquiry block at Anastasis Academy. I thought it might be about time I shared the love here! If you find it useful, I may include some more of these kinds of posts periodically.
Right now our students are learning about how the world works. They are inquiring into animal habitats and needs.
- Draw a habitat– my favorite from PBS!
- Plant and Animal Habitats from BBC has students working with the Sarah Jane Adventures team to complete a habitat interactive activity where students match aliens with the best habitat based on clues about both creature and habitat.
- Learn about habitats with this virtual text from BBC.
- Create a butterfly habitat by adding and removing plants.
- Explore the Deep Sea habitat with this interactive from National Geographic.
- Explore the Antarctica habitat with National Geographic’s Critter Cam.
- Build an online habitat with Switch Zoo.
- Design a Habitat with ARKive education.
- The Great Habitat Match with the Magic School Bus Gang.
- Walk in the Forest helps students learn about layers of habitats in the forest.
- Animal Homes (this is a good one for kindergarten or younger).
- Frog habitats– students help a frog find a new home.
- e-Learning for kids habitat interactive.
- Remember cootie catchers? Or fortune tellers? They are easily folded out of a regular 8.5×11″ piece of paper. Students can use cootie catchers to show their knowledge, and quiz each other, about habitats. Ask students to each choose a different habitat to create their cootie catcher about. Each flap can have a different word that describes the habitat (for example: desert might say “dry”, “barren”, “extreme temperatures”, “low vegetation”). The next flap can have a type of animal that lives in that type of habitat. The last flap can include a fact about why that habitat is perfect for the animal. To play with the cootie catcher, one student chooses a word and the other spells the word out while opening and closing the cootie catcher. The first student chooses a new word and the second student spells the word out while manipulating the cootie catcher. On the final turn, the student chooses a flap to be opened to reveal the fact.
- Create a complete ecosystem: photosynthesis, rain, decomposition, life cycles http://cranberrycorner.blogspot.com/2010/07/summer-fun-ecosystem-edition.html
There are SO many fun ways to explore habitats and animals…if you have outdoor space at your school, send students outside to explore the habitats they walk right by every day.
What it is: Planet Foss is a science photo sharing website for students. Students are enlisted to help capture science in the real world through pictures and share them with other students around the world. Students choose a science course to investigate, see what photo challenges exist within the course, and then take a picture of science as it happens. Each course comes with several challenges; the challenges are all based around themes that tie into the FOSS investigations. When students have taken their photos, they can upload them, tag them, and record observations about the science they captured in their picture. Students can also head over to Planet FOSS just to check out the photos taken by other students, they can search by the date that the picture was uploaded, by tag, keyword, or search by location using a Google map. Courses on Planet FOSS include Chemical Interactions, Diversity of Life, Earth History, Electronics, Forces and Motion, Human Brain and Senses, Planetary Science, Populations and Ecosystems, and Weather and Water.
How to integrate Planet FOSS into the classroom: Planet FOSS is an excellent way to involve students in science exploration and discovery in the real world. The great thing about the site is that it helps students discover the science that it all around them. Through the photo challenges and investigations, students learn to view the world through a new lens and begin to understand that life is science. That isn’t a concept I understood until I was out of school (for me science usually meant filling out a worksheet or memorizing science vocabulary-sad). Don’t have access to digital cameras at school? Students can still use Planet FOSS by exploring other student photos. The photos are a great way to introduce science concepts and illustrate concepts in a way that is more authentic than the textbook offerings. As students view others photos, they can leave feedback about the photo, observation, or comment on the similarities or difference to where they live using a set of virtual “stickers”.
Tips: To protect student privacy, Planet FOSS does not accept any photos that includes pictures of students. Planet FOSS has a great introductory video that will have even the novice computer user uploading photos in no time!
Please leave a comment and share how you are using Planet FOSS in your classroom
What it is: Eco Defenders is another excellent Filament Games simulation/interactive. In this game, students design “alien” invasive species and set it loose on an imaginary ecosystem. Students must use their knowledge of ecosystems, adaptations, and competition to design a simulation of an invasive species. Students find out that when an invading species occupies the same ecological niche as native species, they can cause problems for the ecosystem. The game allows for a lot of customization and decisions for students as they choose one of three ecosystems and then design their own alien. As students go through the simulation, JASON host researcher, Russell Cuhel, will ask questions about how invasive species invade an ecosystem giving students the chance to be the expert. Before students play the game, ask them to click on the “Learn More” link where they will receive a tutorial for the game and some background information about invasive species. Students can learn about different kinds of invasive species that exist in our world.
How to integrate Eco Defenders into the classroom: In the Eco Defenders game/simulation, your students will: design their own invasive creature, watch their creature as it interacts in the ecosystem and competes over resources with native creatures, and analyze the interactions among the organisms in the ecosystem. Students will select a creature to target in the ecosystem they have chosen and then design a species that will compete in the same ecological niche. Students will design and then run a simulation to test their invader. Afterward, they will discuss what happened with the virtual host scientist, go over the results, and analyze the data. The great thing about this game/simulation is that no two students will have the exact same results. Eco Defenders is best in a computer lab setting where each student can play individually. After students have experimented and run through the simulation, come together as a class and discuss what students observed. What made their invader successful? What would they change for the next time? As students learn more about ecosystems, eco niches, and invaders throughout the unit, have them run through the simulation again and see if they come up with different results. If you can’t manage access to a 1 to 1 computer setting, play the game as a class using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer. The class should discuss each decision, weighing the pros and cons, before making a move. As the students work through the simulation, talk about what they are observing and what tweaks might change the outcome of their simulation.
Tips: JASON Science is worth a look. The tag-line of JASON Science is “Education through Exploration”. I couldn’t agree more!
Please leave a comment and share how you are using Eco Defenders in your classroom.