ALEX Lesson Plan


Animal Alterations: How Do Animals Change Their Habitats?

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Hannah Bradley
System: Dothan City
School: Carver Magnet School
The event this resource created for:ASTA
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 35239


Animal Alterations: How Do Animals Change Their Habitats?


Students will begin by describing how humans change their environment in order to provide for their needs. Students will watch a video clip that explains how several forest animals alter their habitats, and then explain how other animals might change their environment in order to survive. At the conclusion of the lesson, students will create a drawing that illustrates how an animal may alter their environment to provide for its needs.

This lesson results from a collaboration between the Alabama State Department of Education and ASTA.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: K
4 ) Gather evidence to support how plants and animals provide for their needs by altering their environment (e.g., tree roots breaking a sidewalk to provide space, red fox burrowing to create a den to raise young, humans growing gardens for food and building roads for transportation).

NAEP Framework
NAEP Statement::
E4.11: Humans depend on their natural and constructed environment. Humans change environments in ways that can either be beneficial or detrimental for themselves and other organisms.

NAEP Statement::
L4.1: Organisms need food, water, and air; a way to dispose of waste; and an environment in which they can live.*

NAEP Statement::
L4.2: Organisms have basic needs. Animals require air, water, and a source of energy and building material for growth and repair. Plants also require light.

NAEP Statement::
L4.3: Organisms interact and are interdependent in various ways, including providing food and shelter to one another. Organisms can survive only in environments in which their needs are met. Some interactions are beneficial; others are detrimental to the organism and other organisms.

NAEP Statement::
L4.4: When the environment changes, some plants and animals survive and reproduce; others die or move to new locations.

NAEP Statement::
L4.7: Different kinds of organisms have characteristics that enable them to survive in different environments. Individuals of the same kind differ in their characteristics, and sometimes the differences give individuals an advantage in surviving and reproducing.

Unpacked Content
Scientific And Engineering Practices:
Engaging in Argument from Evidence
Crosscutting Concepts: Cause and Effect
Disciplinary Core Idea: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
  • Make a claim using evidence to show how plants and animals sometimes alter their environment to ensure their needs are met.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • Gather
  • Evidence
  • Support
  • Plant
  • Animal
  • Provide
  • Needs
  • Alter
  • Environment
  • Claim
Students know:
  • Plants and animals meet their needs.
  • Plants change their environment to meet their needs.
  • Animals change their environment to meet their needs.
Students are able to:
  • Gather data (evidence) to support a claim that plants and animals alter the environment when meeting their needs.
Students understand that:
  • Systems in the natural and designed world have parts that work together like the plants and animals within their environments.
AMSTI Resources:
*vocabulary related to specific examples
AMSTI Module:
Plants and Animals
*Exploring Plants and Animals, STC

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.K.4- Observe and/or identify ways plants and animals alter their environment to live.

Arts Education
ARTS (2017)
Grade: K
Visual Arts
1) Engage in self-directed exploration and imaginative play with art materials.

a. Use motor skills to create two-dimensional art.

Examples: Finger painting, watercolors, paper collage, and rubbings.

b. Use motor skills to create three-dimensional art.

Examples: Rolling, folding, cutting, molding, pinching and pulling clay.

Unpacked Content
Artistic Process: Creating
Anchor Standards:
Anchor Standard 1: Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.
Process Components: Investigate, Plan, Make
Essential Questions:
EU: Creativity and innovative thinking are essential life skills that can be developed.
EQ: What conditions, attitudes, and behaviors support creativity and innovative thinking? What factors prevent or encourage people to take creative risks? How does collaboration expand the creative process?
Concepts & Vocabulary:
  • Art
  • Artwork
  • Collaboratively
  • Collage
  • Cool colors
  • Warm colors
  • Elements of Art
    • Color
    • Line
    • Shape
  • Imaginative play
  • Play
  • Portfolio
  • Primary colors
  • Principles of design
    • Pattern
  • Printmaking
Skill Examples:
  • Create two-dimensional artworks using finger painting, watercolors, paper collage, and rubbings.
  • Create three-dimensional artworks using techniques such as rolling, folding, cutting, molding, pinching, and pulling clay.
  • Work with a partner to create works of art.
  • Working in small groups, use recycled materials to create artworks.
  • Explore the books Why is Blue Dog Blue? by G. Rodrigue and My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss to understand color meanings and moods.
  • Read the book Lines that Wiggle by Candace Whitman to explore different styles of line.
  • Safely use and share scissors, pencils, crayons, markers, glue, paints, paintbrushes, and clay.
  • Use symbols to help tell a personal or make-believe story.
  • Manipulate art media to create textures and patterns.
  • Identify and use organic and geometric shapes to create works of art.
  • Show respect for self and others while making and viewing art.
  • Use the primary colors (red, yellow, and blue) to create a free-style painting while singing the names of the colors.
  • Use patterns in designing colored stripes on the shirt of a person you know.
  • Collect found objects such as paper tubes, forks, and pieces of cardboard. Press them in shallow tempera paint, and stamp them on paper to show printmaking.
  • Create a T-chart that separates cool (blue, green, and purple) and warm (red, yellow, and orange) colors in different columns. Use the symbols of water waves for the cool column header and the sun for the warm column header.
  • Work with a partner to find colors, lines, and shapes in art and tell each other what you see.

Local/National Standards:


Primary Learning Objective(s):

  • Students will be able to describe how humans and other animals provide for their needs by altering their environment.
  • Students will be able to create a drawing that illustrates how an animal may alter its habitat to provide for its needs. 

Additional Learning Objective(s):

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

31 to 60 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Student Materials (per student)

White paper (for illustration)

Coloring supplies (colored pencils, crayons, markers, etc.)

Teacher Materials

Chart paper or board

Printable for Intervention Strategy: "A River in the Forest" Printable Coloring Page

Technology Resources Needed:

Teacher computer with internet access

Interactive whiteboard and/or projector with ability to project sound

Video clip for during strategy: "Big Changes in the Big Forest" from Crash Course Kids on (4:38)


Teacher Background Information: Animals alter their environment in order to provide for their needs. For example, humans began the process of agriculture to provide food and built roads for transportation purposes. Just as humans change the environment to provide for their needs, other organisms alter their habitats as well. For example, a tree's roots may break apart a sidewalk to make room to grow. A red fox burrows into the ground to make a den to raise its young safely. This lesson will focus on the ways that humans and animals change the environment in order to provide for their needs.

Student Background Information: As this lesson is introductory in scope, students will not need background information to complete the lesson's objectives. The students will be required to create a drawing using standard art supplies (crayons, colored pencils, markers, etc.)


Before Strategy/Engage: 10 minutes

1. The teacher should ask students the following questions: "What do you do when you're cold?" "What do you do when you're hungry?" "How are you able to get from your house to school?"

2. The teacher should record student responses on a chart titled "Humans and their Environment". Through effective questioning techniques, the teacher should lead the students to the understanding that we, as humans, provide for our needs by altering our environment.

For example, the teacher asks the students, "What do you do when you're hungry?" The students may reply, "We would eat." The teacher should ask, "Where does your food come from?" Eventually leading the students to the idea that our food that we get from the grocery store comes from a farm that someone created in our environment in order to provide food for people.

During Strategy/Explore & Explain: 15 minutes 

1. The teacher should pose the following question to students, "What are some ways that an animal might change their environment to survive?" The teacher may choose to explain that humans are a type of animal, and just like we change our environment to survive, other animals do too. The teacher should record student responses on a chart entitled, "Animals and their Environment".

2. The teacher should play the following video clip:  "Big Changes in the Big Forest" from Crash Course Kids on

3. After viewing the video clip, the teacher should return to the "Animals and their Environment" and add any additional ideas that students learned while watching the video clip. (The animals detailed in the video include prairie dogs, termites, squirrels, and beavers.)

After Strategy/Explain & Elaborate: 30 minutes

1. Explain to students that they will illustrate how an animal alters its environment to provide for its needs. The teacher may ask students to focus on an animal that was discussed during the lesson or allow students to choose another type of animal that was not discussed.

2. The students should be able to create a drawing that includes at least one animal and illustrates how the animal could change its environment to provide for its needs.

For example, a student may illustrate a prairie dog burrowing underground in order to create a safe shelter.

3. Have students present the drawing to the class to explain how the animal in their drawing is changing its habitat and why the animal would need to make that change to provide for its needs.


Assessment Strategies

Formative Assessment: The teacher will informally assess students' understanding of the concept during the class discussion during the before and during strategies

Summative Assessment: The teacher will formally assess students' understanding of the concept by reviewing each student's illustration at the conclusion of the lesson. Each student's illustration should include one animal altering its environment to provide for its needs. The students should be able to verbally explain how the animal in their drawing is changing its habitat and why the animal would need to make that change. 


Students who require acceleration strategies could add additional animals to their illustration or include additional ways an animal may alter their environment. The students could research a new animal using age-appropriate text and create a new illustration with that animal. 


Students who require intervention strategies may draw an animal and its alteration to its environment on a coloring sheet, rather than creating an illustration on blank paper. 

"A River in the Forest" Printable Coloring Page

The teacher could allow students to describe their illustration verbally as part of the summative assessment. 

View the Special Education resources for instructional guidance in providing modifications and adaptations for students with significant cognitive disabilities who qualify for the Alabama Alternate Assessment.