ALEX Lesson Plan


Animal Habitats

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Sandy Armstrong
System: Muscle Shoals City
School: Muscle Shoals City Board Of Education
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 35585


Animal Habitats


In this lesson, students will research a variety of animals, plants, and habitats from Alabama. After researching animals, plants, and habitats from Alabama, small groups of students will be assigned a habitat to create.  After creating the habitat in small groups, the small groups of students will share their habitat with their classmates.

This lesson results from the ALEX Resource Gap Project.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: K
31 ) Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about kindergarten topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups. [SL.K.1]

a. Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., listening to others and taking turns speaking about the topics and texts under discussion). [SL.K.1a]

b. Continue a conversation through multiple exchanges. [SL.K.1b]

SC2015 (2015)
Grade: K
5 ) Construct a model of a natural habitat (e.g., terrarium, ant farm, diorama) conducive to meeting the needs of plants and animals native to Alabama.

NAEP Framework
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.

Unpacked Content
Scientific And Engineering Practices:
Developing and Using Models
Crosscutting Concepts: Systems and System Models
Disciplinary Core Idea: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
  • Construct a model of a natural habitat conducive to meeting the needs of plants and animals native to Alabama.
  • Use the model to describe the relationships between the different plants and animals and the materials they need to survive.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • Construct
  • Model
  • Natural
  • Habitat
  • Conducive
  • Needs
  • Plants
  • Animals
  • Native
  • Alabama
Students know:
  • Needs of plants and animals native to Alabama.
  • How to construct a model of a natural habitat and can identify and describe the components of the model
  • Places where the different plants and animals live.
  • The relationship between where plants and animals live and the resources those places provide
Students are able to:
  • Construct a model of interactions that occur in a natural habitat.
  • Use a model to represent and describe the relationships between the components.
Students understand that:
  • Systems in the natural environments of Alabama have parts that work together and can be represented.
AMSTI Resources:
AMSTI Module:
Plants and Animals
*Exploring Plants and Animals, STC

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.K.5- Participate in the construction and/or care of a model habitat of plants and animals native to Alabama.

Local/National Standards:


Primary Learning Objective(s):

Students will identify a variety of plants, animals, and habitats from Alabama.

Students will construct an animal habitat of plants and animals from Alabama.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

I can identify a variety of plants, animals, and habitats from Alabama.

I can construct an animal habitat.

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

31 to 60 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Teacher Materials

Legacy Posters of Alabama Plants and Animals from

Tape for displaying Legacy posters

Account with Epic! books (Students will be using teacher account) at

Animal Habitat Checklist (one copy for each group)

Rules and procedures checklist for working in small groups (one copy for the teacher)

Informational textbooks on animals, plants, and habitats from Alabama for research, such as:

  • ABC's of Habitats by Bobbie Kalman
  • DK Readers Level 1 Animals at Home
  • Woodland Animals by John Green
  • A Rabbit's Burrow by Niles Worthington
  • Can You See Me? by Ted Lewin
  • A Walk in Deciduous Forest by Rebecca Johnson
  • Caves and Caverns by Gail Gibbons
  • About Habitats: Wetlands by Cathryn Sill
  • Sand Dune Daisy: A Pocket Mouse Tale by Lili Debarbieri
  • Longleaf, Far as the Eye Can See A New Vision of North America's Richest Forest


Student Materials

Yes/No Signs for each student (The signs could be a sentence strip with yes on one side and no on the other side.)

Variety of informational text books on animals, plants, and habitats from Alabama (See list above.)

Post-it notes, paper, and pencils for taking notes or drawing pictures for students while looking at books

Variety of materials for students to construct animal habitats: 3 small boxes; 9 balls of yarn in brown, light brown, and green; 9 packages of multi-color construction paper; 3 bags of small rocks; 3 large pieces of paper for mural 

Glue and tape for construction of animal habitat

Crayons, markers, pencils, or colored pencils for construction of animal habitat

Graphic Organizer for small group planning of the habitat (one copy for each student)

Animal Habitat Checklist (one copy for each group)

Google Form with six of the Alabama animal habitats discussed with the class for students to vote on three of the animals (See an example here.)

Paper and pencil for students to draw a picture the Alabama animals for voting on the three Alabama animals.  Paper and pencil drawings would be another option for voting on animals other than doing it in a google form.

Paper, pencil, and crayons for drawing pictures of animals, plants, and habitats for small group rotation. (These materials would be needed if technology resources are not available for the epic books small group time.)

Technology Resources Needed:

Teacher Materials

Desktop computer, Chromebook or iPad 

Student Materials

4 - 6 Chromebooks or iPads for using Epic books during one of the small group rotations    (Another option for the small group time if technology resources are not available would be for students to draw pictures of the animals, plants, and habitats.)

4 - 6 Chromebooks or iPads for students to take turns voting in a Google form 


Teacher Background Information: The teacher will need to order and display posters of Alabama plants/animals from Legacy. The posters are free, however, there will be a charge for shipping of the posters ($5.00).  To build background knowledge of Alabama plants, animals, and habitats for discussion with students, research the Alabama animals and habitats found on the posters: 

  • Deciduous Forest (Black Bear, Red Hills Salamander, Cerulean Warbler, Fox, Spicebush Swallowtail, Price's Potato-Bean, Lichen, Moss, Ferns, Maple Trees, Oak Trees, Hickory Trees)  
  • Caves (Gray Bat, Alabama Cavefish, Alabama Cave Shrimp, Woodrat, Blind Cave Crayfish, Fern, Moss)
  • Wetlands (Marsh Rabbit, Wood Stork, Alligator Snapping Turtle, River Otter, Swamp Rabbit, Green Pitcher-Plant, Algae, Moss)
  • Free Flowing Streams (Flattened Musk Turtle, Pintail Duck,  Vermilion Darter, Tulotoma Snail, Cahaba Lilly, Algae, Cattail)
  •  Coastal Dunes/Beaches (Alabama Beach Mouse, Loggerhead Sea Turtle, Laughing Gull, Diamondback Terrapin, American Alligator, Snowy Plover, European Beachgrass)
  • Longleaf Pine Forest (Barn Owl, Flatwoods Salamander, Gopher Tortoise, Panhandle Lily, Longleaf Pine, Wiregrass)

Other resources for researching Alabama animals, plants, and habitats:

Preparation: Create a Google form to allow students to vote on the animal they want to research. 

  1. Go to
  2. In the top left, click Blank.
  3. A new form will automatically open.
  4. list the selected habitats for voting

Example of Google Form with Alabama Animal Habitats

*Students voting for a habitat in Google forms is one option.  Students can draw a picture of their three favorite animals on paper with a pencil for voting.

Set up an account for Epic Books. The Epic subscription is $4.99/month. Teachers can sign up for one month for free.  Epic Books gives students and teachers access to e-readers.  While students are using Epic Books in this lesson students will be using the Read to Me readers. For example, Animal Habitats by Julie Lundgren or National Geographic Butterflies. 

The teacher can create a collection of books for easy access for the students.  The teacher will choose collection in Epic and load the readers of choice into the collection area.  Epic Books has a full tutorial at the beginning to introduce the teacher to the procedures.  (An alternative option for this small group time if Epic is not available would be for students to draw pictures of animals and habitats.)  After students decide on their list of materials for their animal habitat project, the teacher will need to prepare materials requested for the construction of the animal habitat.

Student Background Information: The students will need to know the procedure for using yes/no signs and rules for the turn and talk, such as sit criss-cross, eye to eye, one friend talks and one friend listens, and switch.  Students also need to know the rules and procedures for working in small groups, such as get along, respect other ideas, on task, use a quiet voice, stay in your group, and participate.

Students will need to have background knowledge of an animal habitat and procedures for using Epic books.



Day One - 

Before Strategy

The teacher will discuss "What is a habitat?"

  • A habitat is a place where animals, plants, or people live. A habitat provides everything a living thing needs.  Some examples of habitats are polar regions, desert, rainforest, and ocean.  There are many kinds of habitats.  Some of the habitats for Alabama animals are rivers, caves, trees, nests, and the ground.

The teacher will introduce students to the different plants and animals from Alabama with the Legacy Alabama Plant and Animal posters. The posters include descriptions of the habitat and the environment for many animals in Alabama.


Students participate in a turn and talk to discuss plants, animals, and habitats from Alabama. Students will discuss one of the animals presented and its habitat.  Students will also share with a partner one of the plants discussed.

The teacher will monitor the turn and talk. (Possible questions from the teacher while monitoring include "Why did you choose that animal or habitat?" and "Did both partners share?" The teacher could also assist students with reminders of animals discussed if needed.)

At the end of the turn and talk the teacher will ask some of the students to share one of the areas that their partner discussed with them.


The teacher will review plants/animals/habitats discussed in the beginning of the lesson.  

The teacher will read different facts about the Alabama plants/animals/habitats discussed in the lesson. The facts that the teacher reads will be some true facts and some untrue facts.  The students will use a yes/no sign if they agree or disagree with the plant/animal/habitat facts. Example statements: 

  • The Deciduous Forest is an animal habitat in Alabama.(yes)
  • The zebra lives in the Deciduous Forest in Alabama.(no)
  • The Black Bear lives in the Deciduous Forest.(yes)
  • The Wetlands are an animal habitat in Alabama.(yes)
  • The Marsh Rabbit lives in the Wetlands.(yes)
  • The desert is a habitat in Alabama.(no)
  • The Gray Bat lives in caves in Alabama.(yes)
  • The Panhandle Lily is a plant in the Longleaf Pine Forest.(yes)
  • The crocodile lives in the Coastal Dunes/Beaches habitat in Alabama.(no)


As a group, the students will pick three of the Alabama habitats for animal habitat construction. The teacher will put the six Alabama habitats (Deciduous Forest, Caves, Wetlands, Free Flowing Streams, Coastal Dunes/Beaches, Longleaf Pine Forest) to be choices in the Google form. The students will vote for the three habitats in a Google form. Another option for voting could be to draw a picture of the three favorite Alabama habitats for voting.

Day Two


The teacher will review the information about habitats from the previous lesson and the Alabama plants/animals from the Imperiled Species of Alabama poster.

The teacher will divide the class into three groups. The three groups will be selected by the teacher randomly. The number of students in each group will depend on the number of students in the class. The three small groups of students will be assigned one of the top three Alabama habitats from the Google form. The teacher will provide the directions for participation in each group.

Directions for participating in the three different groups:

1.) Looking at Informational Books about Animals and Animal Habitats - Students will be given a basket of books on about Alabama plants,  animal, and habitats.   Students will be given a sheet of paper and Post-it notes to record facts or draw pictures that will be useful for their project.

2.) Looking at Books about Animals and Animal Habitats in Epic Books - Students will have a choice of looking and listening to books about animals and animal habitats. Students will be provided with paper for notes or drawings that will be useful for their animal habitat project. The books on Epic will be the Read to Me versions. (Another option for this small group could be for students to draw pictures of the animals and the habitats.)

3.) Researching and Completing the Animal and Animal Habitat with the Teacher - The teacher will help students locate facts for the graphic organizer. The students will complete the different sections of the graphic organizer with the teacher's assistance. The teacher will use the Legacy Animal and Habitat Alabama poster and fact books for the main reference during the small group research.


The teacher will meet with each small group to research their animal. The teacher will guide students in small groups to complete the Animal Habitat, graphic organizer. The students and teacher will use informational text and Legacy posters on the animals, plants, and habitats as a reference for the graphic organizer. After researching and completing the graphic organizer the teacher will give students directions for sharing the animal habitat with the other students. The teacher will share materials that will be available for the construction of the project. 

While the teacher is meeting with each small group, one group will be on Chromebooks using Epic books to listen to books about their animal or animal habitats. The other group will be looking at books about their animal or animal habitats. The groups will be rotated between these three areas (teacher small group research, epic books on Chromebooks or iPads, and a book center of informational text books on animals habitats from Alabama). During the small group research with the teacher, the teacher will help students locate facts from informational text books and poster for the graphic organizer. Each student will complete the different sections of the graphic organizer with the teacher's assistance. The teacher will discuss a variety of materials available for the animal habitat project.  The teacher will discuss the Animal Habitat checklist requirements with the small group.


After the rotation of all groups, the small groups will meet to finish planning their animal habitat. The teacher will monitor groups and use the small group checklist for observation of group work.  

Day Three


Students will meet in their small groups to review their plan for construction of their animal habitat. As a group, the students can decide if they are going to create a diorama or mural to showcase their habitat. The mural or diorama needs to include a model of the animal, and plants and landforms that are associated with the animal's habitat.


Students will construct their animal habitat. The Animal Habitat construction will include facts and ideas from the animal habitat graphic organizer and previous day's plan. The teacher will monitor and observe small groups using the small group checklist.


Small groups will share their animal habitats with the class. The teacher will monitor and observe the students sharing time using the criteria checklist for the animal habitat project.  


Assessment Strategies

Day One

Formative Assessment

Teacher observation during turn and talk.  

Summative Assessment

Teacher observation with yes/no signs of animals of Alabama facts

Day Two

Formative Assessment

Small group checklist for working in small groups independently

Day Three

Formative Assessment

Student participation in sharing animal habitats

Summative Assessment

Animal Habitat Checklist 



After the small group project, the students could compare the habitats that were created for likenesses and differences, select other Alabama plants, animals, and habitats to research, or research habitats and animals from other parts of the world.



The teacher will assist students with turn and talk discussions if needed.

If the checklist shows a need for intervention, the teacher will assist students in a small group and/or provide assistance with animal habitat project.

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.