Student Activities

Everybody Needs A Home

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Grade Level:
Lower Elementary: Pre-Kindergarten through Second Grade


The main purpose of this activity is for students to generalize that animals need a home. Homes are not just houses. A house may be considered shelter. People build houses, apartments, trailers, houseboats, and other kinds of shelter in which to live. Animals also need some kind of shelter. The shelter might be underground, in a bush, in the bark of a tree, or under some rocks. 


Students will be able to:

1. Name the five components of a successful habitat.

2. Understand that the arrangement of these five components is equally important to making a habitat fully useful.

3. Compare their own home needs and the habitat needs of plants and animals.

4. Understand that loss or change in habitat may impact people and wildlife.

Teacher Information

Life thrives on Earth as plants, animals, and other living things such as bacteria and fungi in a variety of natural habitats on land and in water. The natural world supplies habitats, or homes, for living things. A natural habitat is the place where a population (e.g., human, animal, plant, microorganism) lives and its surroundings, both living and non-living. Understanding a species’ habitat requires that we study interactions between living and non-living components in that habitat. Non-living things are inanimate objects or forces with the ability to influence, shape, alter a habitat, and impact its life. Some examples of non-living things include rocks, water, weather, climate, and natural events such as rock falls or earthquakes.   

For a species to survive, its habitat must consist of five components: food, water, shelter, space, and a successful arrangement of those components. The removal of one of these five components will result in the breakdown of the habitat to the point that it may no longer be able to support life.  

Food is a vital nourishing substance taken into the body to sustain life. Water is a liquid that all life needs to survive. It is absorbed by plants, drunk by animals, or sometimes even metabolized out of solid food eaten by animals. Shelter is a place, form, or structure that protects life forms from weather or other adverse conditions, such as being eaten by predators. Shelter provides refuge for life.  Space is a three-dimensional expanse or area. It makes a place available for life and plays a role in the amount of food, water, shelter, space, and competition available. The arrangement and availability of food, water, shelter, and space in a habitat determines if that area is a successful habitat for a species. For example, if all habitat components are located close together, except for water which might not be found openly in the desert, the distance between the other components and the water might make the area a poor habitat. The arrangement of food, water, shelter, and space in a habitat determines what species can live there. For example, different plants and animals have different needs for water (i.e., fish need a lot of it while lizards only need a little bit), food (i.e., some animals only eat certain plants), space (i.e., coyotes need more than mice), and shelter (i.e., most bats prefer caves and rock crevices while most birds and bats like trees).


1. Drawing paper
2. Crayons and/or markers
3. Photos of birds, bats, coconut crab


A. Introduce Inquiry Question:

Why do living things need a home?

B. Pre-Activity

1.  Ask each student to draw a picture of where he or she lives. Ask students to include the things they need to survive, such as a place to cook, store food, and place to sleep. Ask the students to close their eyes and imagine the homes of birds, fruit bats, coconut crabs and red-footed boobies.

2.  Once the drawings are finished, have a discussion with the students about what they drew. Ask the students to show their home and point out the things they need to survive. Make a “gallery of homes” out of the drawings. Point out to students that everyone has a home.

3.  Compare and contrast among different homes with the students. Talk about what every animal needs in its home: food, water, shelter, space, arranged in a way that works for them.

4. Discuss with the students what will happen in their homes if some part of the habitat arrangement was taken away. For example, what would happen if there was no water?

C. Activity: Living or Non-Living Lap-sit

1.  Have student form one circle, standing shoulder to shoulder. Ask each student to call out each four component; food, water, shelter and space. Repeat for every four students until each student has a habitat component. These components will be their roles during the rest of the activity. 

2. Ask students to turn right so that they face the back of the student in front of them. Then have everyone take one step inward. They should all be standing close together.

3. Ask everyone to listen carefully and place their hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them. On the count of three, have the students sit slowly on the knees of the student behind them, keeping their own knees together to support the person in front of them. Point out to them that all the components of a habitat, represented by each student, has now been put together in a proper arrangement where everything is interconnected. Discuss how each component is important to habitat stability. 

4. Repeat the activity. Once everyone is in the lap-sit position, call on all the students that represent water. Tell them that “water” is reduced in the habitat as a result of drought conditions. Now have the students that represent “water” remove themselves from the lap-sit circle. At this point, the circle will either collapse or suffer disruption. Indicate to students that this occur because the balance of life is lost.

5. Have the remaining students re-form the lap-sit circle. After the circle has been re-formed have “water” students play the role of a flash flood. Have them try, as a group, to create an opening and work their way back into the circle. This should not be easy, but the stability of the lap sit circle should be lost again.

6. Discuss with the students other ways that habitat stability might be disrupted. What natural events in addition to droughts or flash floods can impact survival? Talk about rock falls, road construction, development, water pollution, and weather events.

7. Ask the students to discuss what this activity means to them. Ask them to summarize the main things they learned. Points could include:
           - People, other plants, animals depend on habitat.
           - Loss of any habitat element can impact life balance.
           - Changes to habitats are can be influenced by both living and non-living things.

Circle back and discuss initial Inquiry Question: Why do living things need a home?

D. Stewardship Message

Motivate your family and friends to protect our wildlife habitats. Conserve, preserve and protect our wildlife habitat.