Exploring and Constructing Forest Habitats

Learning Resource Type

Lesson Plan

Subject Area

English Language Arts




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.

Science (2015) Grade(s): KG


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.



  • 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.

Scientific and Engineering Practices

Developing and Using Models

Crosscutting Concepts

Systems and System Models

Primary Learning Objectives

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.


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 respond, ask the next question. "What do you want to know about forests?" As the students respond, record their questions in 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 shows 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 images. 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 images. After coloring the images (if desired), the groups will construct their habitats using the animal images 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.

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.


-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 them. The student will decide if the statement on the card is true or false as related to their learning about forests. 


Total Duration

61 to 90 Minutes


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 the 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 animal images 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.

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)

Animal Images: The teacher can use clip-art images or photographs

  • Images of Forest Animals (4 animals per group)
  • Images of Sea Animals (3 animals per group)
  • Images of Savanna/Grasslands Animals (3 animals per group)

Habitat and Informational Writing Rubric

Chart paper for KWL chart

Card stock for animal images

Writing Anchor Chart

Technology Resources Needed

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


Approved Date