ALEX Lesson Plan


Exploring and Constructing Forest Habitats

You may save this lesson plan to your hard drive as an html file by selecting "File", then "Save As" from your browser's pull down menu. The file name extension must be .html.

  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Kayla Passarella
System: Muscle Shoals City
School: Howell Graves Preschool
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 35564


Exploring and Constructing Forest Habitats


In this lesson, students will explore and construct forest habitats of plants and animals native to Alabama. In the beginning, students will activate their prior knowledge by reviewing the definition of a habitat and discussing what they know about forests to create a KWL chart. Next, the book A Forest Habitat by Bobbie Kalman is used to further the students learning of the components that comprise a forest habitat and how those components interact with one another. The students will demonstrate their learning through animal sorts, habitat construction, and informational writing using the conventions of Standard English such as capitalization and punctuation. For the conclusion, the students will peer edit their writing using the provided writing anchor chart before presenting their learning to others.

This lesson was created as part of the ALEX Gap Project.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: K
25 ) Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose informative or explanatory texts in which they name what they are writing about and supply some information about the topic. [W.K.2]

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: K
38 ) Begin to demonstrate command of the conventions of Standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing. [L.K.2]

a. Capitalize the first word in a sentence and the pronoun I. [L.K.2a]

b. Recognize and name end punctuation. [L.K.2b]

c. Write a letter or letters for most consonant and short-vowel sounds (phonemes). [L.K.2c]

d. Spell simple words phonetically, drawing on knowledge of sound-letter relationships. [L.K.2d]

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.

Insight 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

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.

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 be able to:

  • construct a model of a natural habitat conducive to meeting the needs of plants and animals native to Alabama.
  • use the model to describe relationships between different plants and animals and the materials they need to survive. 
  • capitalize the first word in a sentence.
  • use correct punctuation at the end of a sentence.
  • spell words phonetically.
  • write an informative text in which they supply information about a forest habitat.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

Learning Targets

I can:

  • construct a natural habitat.
  • tell three facts about a forest habitat.
  • begin my sentence with an uppercase letter.
  • sound out and spell words.
  • use the correct punctuation at the end of a sentence.
  • produce a sentence that is readable.
  • use spaces between words when writing a sentence.
 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

61 to 90 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Student Materials (Per Groups of 2 or 3)

  • 17.5cm x 12cm x 14cm (700 mL) or smaller clear, plastic container
  • Sticks
  • Rocks
  • Leaves
  • Moss
  • Sand
  • Soil
  • Spoons
  • Quart zip lock bag (containing printables of 4 forest animals, 3 sea animals, and 3 grassland animals-see Teacher Materials for download)
  • Informative fact writing template (1 per student)

Teacher Materials

Book: A Forest Habitat by Bobbie Kalman 

Informative Fact Writing Template (1 per student)

Forest Animals Printable (4 animals per group)

Sea Animals Printable (3 animals per group)

Savanna/Grasslands Animals Printable (3 animals per group)

Habitat and Informational Writing Rubric (see attached document)

Chart paper for KWL chart

KWL chart example

Card stock for animal cut outs

Writing Anchor Chart (see attached document)

Technology Resources Needed:

-Computer with access to the internet to print writing template, animals, and rubric 



Student Knowledge

Prior to the teaching of this lesson, students will need to know a habitat is a home or environment where plants and animals live. Students should possess an understanding of the needs of plants and animals native to Alabama. Also, habitats have parts that work together and can be represented to provide those resources. 

In the writing, the techniques used for composing an informative text should be introduced and discussed prior to the teaching of this lesson. A complete sentence contains an uppercase letter at the beginning of a sentence, ends with an appropriate punctuation mark, has written letters that correspond to consonant letters and vowel sounds, and uses spaces between words. The components can be reviewed before the writing activity using the writing anchor chart established prior to this lesson.

Teacher Background/Preparation: Students will construct their habitats in groups of 2 or 3 depending on the class size and teacher's personal preference. Prior to the lesson, the teacher should assign students to groups.

Teachers will need to have all materials collected for the forest habitat project or a place outside near the school where students can do a nature walk and collect the materials needed for their habitat with teacher supervision.

All copies of the animals, writing templates, and assessment rubric will need to be printed prior to the day of teaching the lesson.

The forest, sea, and savanna/grasslands printables will need to be cut out prior to the lesson. The cut-outs will be placed in a zip lock bag. Each bag will need 4 forest animals, 3 sea animals, and 3 savanna/grassland animals in their zip lock bag. The animals are to be mixed and placed in random order.

The teacher will need to know how to use a KWL chart and draw it on chart paper. Click on the word KWL to find an example of a KWL chart to use in your class and guide your drawing of the KWL on chart paper.

Assign turn and talk partners. These partners can be the same ones you assigned for the habitat construction project.


Before Strategy/Engage (10 minutes)

-Begin the discussion by reminding the students the definition of a habitat. A habitat is the home or environment of an animal or plant. A forest is a type of habitat.

Pose the following questions to the students: What do you know about forests? What do they look like? What do you hear? See? Smell?

-The students will discuss their responses with their turn and talk partners.

-Once the students have had time to discuss, meet again as a whole group, and ask the students to share their responses with the class.

-As a student shares, record their response in the "K" (know) column of the KWL chart. 

-Once you have had several students to respond, ask the next question. "What do you want to know about forests?" As the students respond, record their questions into the "W" (Wonder) column on the KWL chart.

-After 3 to 4 responses are recorded, tell the students that they will listen to a story about forest habitats. While the teacher is reading, they are listening for new information about forests to add to the "L" (learned) column of our KWL chart.

During Strategy/Explore and Explain (45 minutes)

-Show the book A Forest Habitat by Bobbie Kalman to the students. Ask them what they see on the cover. What kind of plants and animals? Do you think this is showing a forest habitat?

-Read the title of the book and the author's name. Then, read the story to the class.

-After the book, guide the students to filling in the "L" column of the KWL chart. What animals did the book mention that lived in a forest? What other things live in a forest? What plants grow there? What is the weather like in a forest? How do animals get their food?

-Record their responses on the KWL chart. 

-Next, have the students sit with their assigned partners. Give each student a zip lock bag of animal cut outs. The students will sort their animals into 2 groups: forest animals and not forest animals. As the students are sorting, walk around and monitor their sorting. Guide the students as needed. This will take about 2 to 3 minutes.

-Then, as a whole group, discuss which animals belong in the forest and which ones do not. Give the groups an opportunity to correct their sorts if needed. 

-The teacher collects the sorts to be used later for construction of a habitat.

-Pass out plastic containers and spoons to assigned groups (1 per group). Tell the students that they will be building their own forest habitats using the information from the KWL chart. Take them on a nature walk around the school to look for things to include in their forest habitats such as sticks, rocks, leaves, moss, and dirt (use spoons to scoop dirt). The students will need to collect the materials and store them in their plastic containers. The habitats will be constructed in the classroom after the nature walk is complete. Allow 10-15 minutes for the nature walk. 

-The students will come back to the classroom. The teacher will pass out their zip lock bag of animals. The groups will need to color their animal cut outs. After coloring the cut outs, the groups will construct their habitats using the animal cut outs and materials collected on the nature walk.

After Strategy/Explain and Elaborate (30 minutes)

-The teacher will pass out the informative fact writing paper to each student. The students will write three facts that they learned about forest habitats from today's whole group lesson about constructing a forest habitat with their partner.

 **Review the writing learning targets using the anchor chart before the students begin writing.

-Next, the students will share their facts with their assigned partner. Students will critique their partner's three facts for meeting the learning targets listed on the writing anchor chart.

**Some files will display in a new window. Others will prompt you to download.

Assessment Strategies

Formative Assessment

Students will be assessed informally through observation and questioning throughout the entire lesson. The forest animal sort and habitat construction will be used to check students' understanding of components that make up a forest habitat. The teacher will also monitor their writing through observation and conferencing.

Summative Assessment

The students' writing piece will be assessed based on the writing rubric in 7 areas: begins sentence with an uppercase letter, uses spaces between words, sounds out and spells words, readable sentences, uses appropriate punctuation at the end of a sentence, writing contains three correct facts about forest habitats, and constructs a natural habitat. (See attached rubric)


-Students can share their learning about forest habitats by creating a brochure using the link below.

Brochure Template

-The students can create a poster about forest habitats. Divide the poster board into three equal columns. At the top of the column, write one a fact about forest habitats. Then, in the space below, draw a picture that illustrates the fact. Repeat these steps for facts two and three.


-A prompt can be provided to help the students begin their fact writing.

(For example: In the forest, I can see...., In the forest, I can hear..., In the forest, I can find...)

-Students can show their learning about forest habitats by using true/false cards. The cards have a sentence written on it. The student will decide if the statement on the card is true or false as related to their learning about forests. 

*See attachment for true/false cards.


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.