Adaptable Habitats: Integrating Curriculum into 2nd Grade Making

The 2nd graders at Lighthouse are spending the next few weeks learning about habitats of the Bay area and how animals adapt to live in them. Since we have a weekly making time, we decided to do an integrated curriculum making project.  The kids (in groups of two) will build one of the four habitats they are studying, including the plants and animals found in those habitats- paying special attention to the adaptations they have that allow them to there.

We started the project with shoe boxes (generously donated by Payless) and fabric (also donated), combining the materials to create the backdrop for our habitats.

Prep Tips

  • Place the fabric into the shoe boxes before the kids see them and pair up the kids, allow each group to choose from 2 boxes (open the lids so they can see the fabric)- this way they get a choice of fabric, have to make a team decision, and the process moves smoothly.
  • Small baskets work great for organizing supplies for each table.  For day one of habitats I gave the kids white glue, glue sticks, scissors, black markers (and pastels for the darker fabrics since black wont show up).
  • Create a finished example (demo) for the kids, use an extra shoe box to demonstrate how to cover two sides of the box.
  • Break the process into 3 steps: TRACE (showing how to use the corners of the fabric so you only have to cut 2 sides, CUT (allowing them to choose from big or little scissors and how to troubleshoot when the fabric is hard to cut by having your partner hold/pull the fabric tight), and GLUE (letting them choose their type of glue, demonstrating how much glue stick or white glue to apply, emphasizing the importance of gluing the edges down).

photoYou can see from the pictures below that some kids finished early and I encouraged them to think about how they could use their extra fabric, and to discuss with their partner what they wanted to include in their habitat.  Some groups got very specific, hence the request list the kids drew up for me — which I love because it shows me they are engaged and thinking about making!

The gallery below provides a pseudo outline of our habitat kick-off.

About Jessica Gray Schipp

An obsessive documenter, by nature.