Lesson Plan

Hoofin' It! - Habitat Grid

a band of sheep on a rocky slope
Dall sheep crossing a scree slope
NPS Photo

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Subject:
Biology: Animals
Duration:
2 or 3 class periods
Setting:
indoors

Overview

The lesson plans in our 'Hoofin' It!' unit help students learn the basics of animal classification and what characteristics are common to mammals, mainly through studying Dall sheep.

Lesson nine teaches younger students about wildlife habitat.

Objective(s)

Students will understand what habitat is and describe the habitat of Dall sheep.

Background

The "Hoofin' It!" unit explores the natural resource management of Dall sheep in the national parks of northwest Alaska. Students will learn about Dall sheep, where they live, how they have adapted to their environment, and how wildlife biologists study them to understand how to protect their populations within national parklands. Links to other lessons in the unit can be found at page bottom.

Dall sheep are a wild sheep that lives on steep mountain slopes across the Alaska. The sheep are an integral part of the natural ecosystem, and they are prized by subsistence and recreational hunters. In the early 1990s, the Dall sheep population in the Baird Mountains of Noatak National Preserve declined dramatically, losing half its population in two years. Wildlife managers closed the sheep hunting season for seven years to allow the population to grow again.

Why did the population drop so suddenly? What are the natural and human factors that affect the Dall sheep population? In the spring of 2000, Brad Shults, a wildlife biologist for the National Park Service, began a research project to learn more about Dall sheep population dynamics. Shults hopes to better understand sheep by studying the number of lambs that are born, how long sheep live, what are the most common causes of death, where do they go from season to season, and just how many sheep are there?

Procedure

Activity

Have the students brainstorm a list of Alaska wildlife and a list of domestic pets.

Write three column headings up on the board: People, Pets, Alaska Wildlife.

Ask the students, “What do people need in order to be able to live?” List the students' ideas in a column under people. Do the same for pets and Alaska wildlife.

From these lists have the students group the ideas that go together. Have the students narrow the list down and come up with essential survival needs for people, pets, and Alaska wildlife. The most basic needs should be the same for all three groups: food, water, shelter, and space.

Make a habitat grid on a big piece of paper.

Have the students work in small groups or individually. They are to choose an Alaskan animal (excluding Dall sheep) and research the habitat requirements. Have the students answer the following questions: What do I know already about this animal? What do I want to know about this animal and its habitat? Where can I find out more about this animal? What did I learn when I looked up information about this animal?

Using the information from their research, have the students fill out the habitat grid. Each group should present their findings to the rest of the class (remind them what makes a good presentation and effective scientific communication).

Next, have the students research the same questions about Dall sheep. Add the information about Dall sheep.

Have a group discussion about the similar needs of Dall sheep to other Alaska animals. Discuss the differences.

Extensions

Have the students write a short story about the animal that they researched. Put all the stories and pictures together and make a class book of Alaska animals.

Suggested Assessment

Have the students paint a picture (or use any other art medium) that depicts all the habitat needs for that animal.

Have the student list the four habitat components that plants and animals need for survival.


Additional Resources

The "Hoofin' It!" unit explores the natural resource management of Dall sheep in the national parks of northwest Alaska. Students will learn about Dall sheep, where they live, how they have adapted to their environment, and how wildlife biologists study them to understand how to protect their populations within national parklands.

This unit is designed for grades K-12. Many of the lesson plans are appropriate for younger grades, although the later part of the unit are geared towards middle and high school. A class needn't do every lesson in the unit to gain insights into wildlife management - each can be approached as a stand-alone lesson on a particular biology-related topic.

Lesson 1 Hoofin' It! - What Do You Know?
(Understanding taxonomy; k - 12th grade)
Lesson 2
Hoofin' It! - Vertebrate Grab Game

(Exploring types of vertebrates; 3rd - 6th grade) 
Lesson 3
Hoofin' It! Vertebrate Mysteries

(A vertebrate matching game; 8th - 12th grade)
Lesson 4
Hoofin' It! Special Parts

(Animal adaptations; k - 12th grade)
Lesson 5
Hoofin' It! Hard to See?

(Camoflague; k - 8th grade)
Lesson 6
Hoofin' It! - Sheep Maneuvers

(A predator-prey game; k - 12th grade)
Lesson 7
Hoofin' It - Year of the Sheep

(Life cycle of a Dall sheep; 3rd - 12th grade)
Lesson 8
Hoofin' It! - Who's Got My Habitat?

(Habitat and wildlife populations; 3rd - 12th grade)
Lesson 9
Hoofin' It! - Habitat Grid

(Exploring wildlife habitat; k - 3rd grade)
Lesson 10
Hoofin' It! - Through the Seasons

(A game looking at seasonal impacts on wildlife; 2nd - 11th grade)
Lesson 11
Hoofin' It! - Population Art

(Intro to counting wildlife populations; k - 2nd grade
Lesson 12
Hoofin' It! - Population Calculation

(Graphing and analyzing sheep population data; 6th - 10th grade)
Lesson 13
Hoofin' It! - Scavenger Hunt

(A game connecting students to wildlife; k - 6th grade)
Lesson 14
Hoofin' It! - Field Sampling

(How scientists count wildlife populations; k - 12th grade)
Lesson 15
Hoofin' It! The Bean Counters: Mark-Recapture

(Learning to use the mark-recapture method for population surveys; 5th - 12th grade)