First Grade - Science - Lesson 1 - Animal Habitats


Understand that living things live in habitats--environments to which they are particularly suited.

Identify the basic needs of animals.

Suggested Books

I am using Relf, Patricia.The Magic School Bus Hops Home: A Book About Animal Habitats. Other suggestions from Baltimore Curriculum: Burton, Jane. Animals at Home; Lauber, Patricia. Fur, Feathers, and Flippers: How Animals Live, Where They Do


We began our study of habitats with the introduction activity involving ice cube "penguins" that begins on page 3 of this pdf.

We read The Magic School Bus Hops Home book to introduce habitats. Sometimes you can find these videos online and some libraries carry them as well. I can almost always get the books via interlibrary loan. The boys learn a lot from Magic School Bus.

From  I emphasized that an animal needs space to live, nest, and raise its young; shelter or a safe place to hide from enemies and be protected from bad weather; water for drinking and bathing; and last but not least, food to live and grow. We put those needs on index cards the boys decorated. 

I read the poem The Animals’ Homes from lesson 32 on the above lesson link.

The Animals' Homes


The desert air

Is dry and hot,

But the camel likes it there.

A hot, wet swamp

With buzz and sting

Is a lizard's favorite lair.


A reindeer loves

The Alaskan snow

Where the air is cold and dry.

Walrus and seal

In waters cold

Swim where people wouldn't try.

An eagle will nest

On mountain high,

A mild, cool place to choose.

While prairie quail

In grass will hide

Through rain or shine and dew.

A person lives

In every place

Where animals can tread,

With tools and hands

To build a place

To house a warm, dry bed.

We talked about how animals have different homes and emphasized again that these are their habitats. Pick an animal and paint or draw it’s habitat to close—making sure we have space, shelter, water, and food pictured.

First Grade - Science - Animal Habitats, Forest Lessons (3 lessons)


Become familiar with the animals and plants that live in a forest habitat.

Suggested Books and Resources

Allaby, Michael. Biomes of the World, Temperate Forests; Coldrey, Jennifer. Where Animals Live: The World of Squirrels; Hirschi, Ron. Discover My World: Forest; Killion, Bette. The Apartment House Tree; Lavies, Bianca. Tree Trunk Traffic; Silber, Donald M. One Small Square: Woods; Tresselt, Alvin. The Gift of the Tree.

The National Science Teachers Association lists include these books: Bishop, Nic. Forest Explorer: A Life-Size Field Guide. (contains beautiful pictures) Johansson, Philip. The Temperate Forest: A Web of Life.

Planet Earth—Seasonal Forests. Some libraries carry these. Ours does not so I purchased a used copy because I like them so much. If you do a google video search there are often online videos available thought the links are sometimes unreliable or otherwise problematic. I’m using this series throughout the habitat lessons.


Some of the following comes from Their site encourages the distribution of their free lesson plans.  The plan was intended to be used for teacher reference and not as a lesson script.

Review the needs (space, water, food, shelter) from yesterday’s cards and explain that animal or plant habitats meet those needs.

We began by talking about a forest habitat today. We discussed the types of animals we would find in a forest near our own home (raccoons, squirrels, mice, deer). We talked about why forests make good homes for those animals.

In the first lesson we looked at the Forest Explorer book. We talked about animals in our local forests and then focused specifically on raccoons and squirrels.

I showed a picture and video clip for each animal.  Here are some links:

raccoon picture, raccoons on video here and here, squirrel picture, grey squirrel video and fox squirrel video.

To note (from BCP plan linked above; to be discussed/presented in the teacher's own words): 

-- Both raccoons and squirrels like to make their homes in trees. Squirrels prefer a deep hole in the trunk of a tree for their home and raccoons like hollow trees or logs.

-- Squirrels like to eat nuts, seeds, fruit, mushrooms, and sometimes birds' eggs and baby mice.

-- Raccoons will eat almost anything--fish, fruit, small animals, birds' eggs, even leftovers found in a garbage. Raccoons are interesting eaters because they use their front paws much like hands. With these "hands" they are able to open shells and take the lids off garbage cans. ". . . raccoons have a peculiar habit of dipping food in water before eating it, but they aren't really trying to wash it, as a lot of people believe. Most likely, this is an instinctive act (something they do without learning), developed because dipping food in water makes it easier to chew and swallow."

We made a raccoon mask and talked about living as a raccoon in our forest primarily because a child of mine likes to pretend.

I found these online woodland interactives here and here. The second (if you do both levels) is nice and I explored it with one child.

I think a diorama using a shoe box and outdoor materials might be a nice way to close this lesson. This would allow you to talk about the layers and different types of animal homes you would need to provide as you decide how to create your diorama box.

Subsequent Lessons 

A. We watched Planet Earth—Seasonal Forests. We then did the science activity listed under number 4 in the link below to discover why deciduous leaves lose their leaves and coniferous trees do not as we talked about the different types of animals that might live in forests of a predominant tree type.


B. We closed our lessons on forests by exploring a local National Forest. Before we left I read the Gift of the Tree so we could look for oaks and note the different life cycles of trees. I also read through the One Small Square book so I had some ideas of what I might want to highlight. We simply explored while talking about what we experienced but here are a couple of ideas that might work well especially for older kids:

Tree detectives

Flower hunt


First Grade - Science - Animal Habitats, Desert Lesson 1


Become familiar with the characteristics of a desert habitat.

Suggested Books

Gibbons, Gail. Deserts; Rinard, Judith E. Wonders of the Desert World; Robbins, Ken. Earth: The Elements; Siebert, Diane. Mojave; Wright-Frierson, Virginia. A Desert Scrapbook: Dawn to Dusk in the Sonoran Desert; Yolen, Jane. Welcome to the Sea of Sand; Magic School Bus All Dried Up.

The NSTA lists include these books: Nic Bishop, Nic. Nic Bishop Lizards. Sayre, April Pulley Dig, Wait, Listen: A Desert Toad’s Tale (highly recommended by the reviewers).

I am using the diorama from this Easy Make and Learn Projects which I purchased with a $10 off promotion. Particular habitats can be purchased individually and the Instant Habitat Diorama download is usually on the Scholastic dollar day sales and includes deserts as well.


I read Welcome to the Sea of Sand. This book is optional in my mind but it brought up some questions that were answered in the video we watched later. I like the sponge drawing idea for deserts introduction mentioned in this lesson plan It describes having the kids use a sponge and “draw” on the ground in a sunny area. Talking about evaporation and the strength of the sun in the desert led to talking about how a desert animal might keep cool in that hot climate.

I told them we would read about one way of handling the desert climate. Then we read Dig, Wait, Listen, which I felt was a very good book.

We watched this video--the link will probably disappear in time but often these pop up online again and some libraries carry Magic School Bus DVD's

(there is the Magic School Bus book too of course)  which led to easy discussion of desert characteristics and animal and plant adaptations. This lesson has some discussion suggestions.

I closed this lesson with the art idea from this site to make a torn paper desert landscape to incorporate some art objectives as we discussed where the animals might be located. There are other ideas in the link as well including one to make a desert terrarium that would be really good I think.

First Grade - Science - Animal Habitats, Desert Lessons 2 and 3


Describe a cactus plant.

Observe the way a cactus is able to conserve water.


A cactus plant

Wax paper

Paper towels



Bash, Barbara. Desert Giant: The World of the Saguaro Cactus (video option: or one of the other books from the lesson above that include cactus.  


The following text comes from They wrote it as a script but it wasn’t intended to be used word for word. I just reference prior to the lesson and then present in my own way.

Read the Desert Giant book or I found this video after we had finished this lesson Examine a cactus plant. Together brainstorm words to describe the cactus. Point out the parts of the cactus (the green stem and the pointy spines). Tell the children that the spines on the cactus are there for a few different reasons. For instance the spines provide shade for the cactus plant when the sun is shining and they scare off animals that might try to eat the cactus. Explain that although the cactus has pointy spines, the green skin of the cactus is thick, waxy, and smooth. Read the following description to the children:

Cactus can survive with very little water, and some kinds can live for years without any water at all. Cactus roots spread out near the surface so that they can soak up moisture from dew or brief rainstorms. Most plants lose water through tiny breathing holes in their leaves and stems. But cactuses have developed spines rather than leaves, and they have fewer holes in their stems, so less water can escape.

Tell the children that when it does rain, the cells inside the stem of the cactus absorb water the way a sponge does if you were to sprinkle water on it or try to wipe water off a surface with it.

Conduct the following demonstration for the children.

1. Roll up two bunches of dampened paper towels.

2. Roll wax paper around one of the bunches and fasten the ends with tape.

3. Place both of the bunches of towels in the sun.

4. The next day unroll the paper towels and have the children feel the paper towels.

5. Explain that the wax paper is similar to the waxy skin of the cactus. The wax paper keeps the moisture in the paper towel, in the same way that the green, waxy skin of the cactus helps to keep moisture inside the cactus plant.

My final day we watched Planet Earth—Deserts

We completed the desert/tundra in the Instant Habitat Diorama download that can be purchased in Scholastic Teacher Express Dollar Deals.

First Grade – Science, Rain Forest Lesson 1 


Recognize that rain forests provide habitat for two-thirds of the plants and animals on Earth.

List some animals that live in the rain forest.

Identify layers in a rain forest

Suggested Books

Baker, Jeannie. Where the Forest Meets the Sea; Cherry, Lynne. The Great Kapok Tree; Cowcher, Helen. Rain Forest; Dorros, Arthur. Rain Forest Secrets.; Fowler, Allan. Save the Rain Forests; Gibbons, Gail. Nature's Green Umbrella: Tropical Rain Forests; Meeks, Arone. Enora and the Black Crane: An Aboriginal Story; Ryder, Joanne. Jaguar in the Rainforest; Weir, Bob. Panther Dream: A Story of the African Rain Forest; Yolen, Jane. Welcome to the Green HouseMagic School Bus In the Rainforest

The NSTA lists include these books: Dunphy, Madeleine. Here is the Tropial Rain Forest;  Grupper, Jonathan. Destination: Rain Forest; Johnson, Jinny and Nalinia Nadkarni. Rain Forest (Kingfisher Voyage); Lasky, Kathryn. The Most Beautiful Roof in the Word: Exploring the Rainforest Canopy.

I have a book by Susan K. Mitchell called The Rainforest Grew All Around that is very nice. It closes with a recipe to make cookies using ingredients we get from rainforests. We can't use it because of allergies but it would be a neat activity for a later rainforest preservation lesson I think. The publisher actually put that recipe online here


I'm going to use the Rain Forest project from Easy Make and Learn Projects which I purchased during a Scholastic $10 off promotion. Individual units can be purchased as well and you can preview the entire thing to decide if it is worth the cost for your child. The Instant Habitat Diorama download that I purchased in Scholastic Teacher Express Dollar Days has a rainforest/desert diorama.



The following text comes from They wrote it as a script but it wasn’t intended to be used word for word. I just reference prior to the lesson and then present in my own way.

Ask the children to close their eyes and look with their imaginations. Ask them to imagine a jungle. Ask them what their jungles look like, sound like, smell like. Are there animals there? What kinds of animals? What do the trees look like? Are they tall? Are there snakes and beautiful butterflies and tree frogs? Have the children open their eyes. Tell them another name for jungle is tropical rain forest. Write rain forest on the board.

There are rain forests in different places on Earth. Show the children on the world map areas of rain forest in Australia, Central Africa, Indonesia, Central and South America.

We'll complete our own map from this site. These lessons are full of great stuff as an alternative or to expand on rain forest lessons.

Open the umbrella. Tell the children that one thing they may have guessed about a rain forest is that it rains a lot, almost every day. The plants soak up the rain and grow big, green and lush. Some rain forests on mountainsides are always in a mist of water. People call these misty jungles cloud forests. Mountain gorillas live in cloud forests in Africa.

Tell the children that there are more kinds of plants and animals living in rain forests than any other places in the world. Draw a circle and divide it into thirds. Color in two thirds. Tell the children that two thirds of all the plants and animals in the world live in rain forests, even though rain forests don't take up much space on Earth. Many of these plants and animals live nowhere else. In fact, scientists think most of the plants and animals in the rain forest have not even been discovered yet. That is because in the rain forest there are lots of hiding places.

Ask the children to imagine plants and animals living in layers. In the rain forest there are creatures that live at the bottom layer on the forest floor, overhead among the vines in the middle part of the trees and some who live high up in the tops of the trees called the canopy.

I am using the Rain Forest project from Easy Make and Learn Projects to talk about the layers and life in those layers. I found some links that might be used instead if a book doesn't have enough layer information. This is a picture representation and, along with text in this lesson, I think it would work. This video clip might be an alternative to introduce the layers and here is another video link that could be used.

We could look at pictures  and point out layers where applicable.

Then we’re going to sing a fun song I found in the link There Are Layers in the Forest Yes Indeed.

We'll do the online game Jewels of the earth--layers from this site

We’ll read The Magic School Bus In the Rain Forest or Welcome to the Green House. *

*I decided to read Welcome to the Green House when I worked through this lesson with the boys.


First Grade - Science – Subsequent Lessons (2)  - Rain Forests


List some animals that live in the rain forest.

Create a packing list for an expedition to a rain forest.


The following text comes from As stated in other lessons I just reference prior to the lesson and then present in my own way.

Predict what happens to animals when rain forests are cleared.

Read The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry, The Rainforest Grew All Around by Susan K. Mitchell (my choice for us), or another book. We'll make a list of things we remember from the story (animals, plants, etc.).

Tell the children that a lot of food and medicine plants grow in the rain forest. There is a little flower called the periwinkle that scientists found out can help cure cancer. There are other medicine plants, too, and many more to discover. Ask: Would you like to be a scientist and explore the rain forest for medicine plants or animals that have never been seen before?

Ask the children to pretend they are going on an expedition to the rain forest. What will they need to pack? Ask the children to help make a list of what they would take on the trip. Ask: What will the weather be like? (rainy, warm) Will you take a boat to travel on the river? Don't forget any equipment you might need (binoculars, microscope).

When the children are finished making their packing list, ask: Wouldn't you think that with so many animals, trees, flowers, birds, insects and medicine plants in the rain forests and so many more to be discovered that people would want to take care of the rain forests? Tell the children that the trouble is, people are cutting down the rain forests. They are cutting down all the old trees and selling the wood. They are clearing the land for farms. They are cutting down so many trees that if they don't stop, by the time the you are grown ups there could be no rain forests left. Ask: What do you think would happen to the animals that lost their rain forest habitats? (They would have no place to live and they would die.) What would happen to the medicine plants? (They would lose their habitats, too, and wouldn't grow.)

Tell the children that many people all over the world are working to make sure there will be rain forests when they are grown ups. One nine-year-old boy in Sweden (show them Sweden on the world map) decided with his friends to raise money to buy rain forest land so the trees could not be cut down. They raised enough to buy 15 acres of rain forest in Costa Rica and called it The Children's Rain Forest. (Show the children Costa Rica on the world map.) It was not a big piece of land. But then other children around the world started to help. They had projects at their schools and raised money to buy rain forest land, too. They added their pieces of land and little-by-little the Children's Rain Forest grew bigger. Today children are raising money and buying rain forest land, not just in Costa Rica but in other places as well. They want to save the rain forests and save all the animals and plants that live there.

The Rainforest Grew All Around has a neat recipe using rainforest ingredients. Here is a copy of the recipe the publisher put online

This site has an online activity to track a product, like chocolate, from rainforest to people. We'll be having a chocolate treat because allergies prevent our use of the book recipe but it looks good. I found some youtube videos tracking chocolate from Cacoa tree to candy bar and we watched one of those as well.

This site also has some neat activities for the bromeliad plant we completed

I might also use the oxygen science lesson listed on the homeschoolshare site with it's lapbook component I might use the Great Kapok Tree lapbook at homeschool share I noted the  kapok as tall as, kapok layers, and kapok people sections. Then I’ll let the boys personalize their books by selecting other topics if they would like.

My final day will be watching Planet Earth—Jungles. To close this lesson I’m going to have my kids complete a habitat diorama on rain forests from this Instant Habitat Diorama download that I purchased in Scholastic Teacher Express Dollar Deals some time ago. One of the dioramas has African rain forest on one side and African desert on the other. I will be using it to emphasize the concepts presented and to compare/contrast with the desert habitats.

First Grade - Science - Animal Habitats, Underground Lesson 1


Conduct observations of earthworms.

Observe and describe earthworm responses to various stimuli.

Construct and use a chart to record observations.

Suggested Books

Jennings, Terry. Earthworms. New York: Gloucester Press, 1988.

Pringle, Laurence. Twist, Wiggle, and Squirm. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1973.


The following text comes from

Imagine you were able to look underground in your backyard. What might you see? (roots, particular insects, particular animals). 

Invite students to think about a backyard. Ask, “What kinds of plants grow there? Do any animals live in a backyard? What do they do there?” Next, have students try to imagine what goes on below the backyard. Have them picture plant roots, insects, such as beetles, or burrowing animals, such as shrews or moles.

Complete this free diorama for underground and discuss.

Read one of the suggested books or another about earthworms.

Watch earthworm video (first half)


Conduct an earthworm investigation or two from these ideas or others (we'll be using ideas contained in the Earthworms book I got from our library):

First Grade - Science - Animal Habitats, Prairie Lesson (1 or 2 days)

Suggested Books

Casey, Denise. The Friendly Prairie Dog: Dvorak, David. Sea of Grass: Hirschi, Ron. Where Are My Prairie Dogs and Black-Footed Ferrets?; Robbins, Ken. Earth: The Elements.

The NSTA lists include these books: Brandenburg, Jim. An American Safari: Adventures on the North American Prairie; George, Jean Craighead. The Buffalo Are Back; Patent, Dorothy Hinshaw. Life in a Grassland; Yolen, Jane. Note: The Buffalo are Back notes the mistreatment and decline of the prairie including the resulting dust storms and then revival. I am going to be using it in a future history unit. If I weren't I might include it in this unit.

Books I previewed from the library on Prairie Dogs that I may use in addition to the ones above include Peeking Prairie Dogs, Christine Zuchora-Walske (simple with good pictures), The Prairie Dog's Town, Mariam Aronin (best book I previewed for burrows), and Come Visit a Prairie Dog Town, Eugenia Alston (older book with black and white illustrations but text is well done compared to others I previewed).


I read the Sea of Grass by David Dvorak to introduce this lesson.

We talked about large areas of grass in our community and referenced the large areas of grassland in the US at the time of Lewis and Clark. We used this map of the U.S and talked about what that land is used for and how the prairie became smaller as a result.

We did this online activity. As you go about restoring the prairie you learn about plants and animals of the prairie.

I'm using it in a history unit but I thought the The Buffalo are Back was quite good and talks about prairie restoration. Note: Buffalo Dusk by Carl Sandburg is part of the CK poetry objective

On Day 2 we watched the Planet Earth DVD for grasslands. Then we did the diorama in Easy Make and Learn Projects which includes US grassland and African Savannah, both covered on the DVD.

I then did a series of lessons prairie dogs. These lessons can fit well in US history topics (Lewis and Clark, Westward Expansion, even the Dust Storms era) as well as in this science lesson so I'm listing them as an individual unit at


First Grade - Science – Oceans Lesson 1


Recognize that nearly three quarters of the Earth is covered by ocean.

Locate the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Arctic and Antarctic oceans on a map.

Describe the difference between ocean water and fresh water.


World map and globe

Clear glass salad or mixing bowl (1 gallon or more capacity)

Container of table salt

Wooden mixing spoon

1/4 teaspoon measure filled with water

Picture of the Earth from space

Suggested Books

Dorros, Arthur. Follow the Water from Brook to Ocean; Fowler, Allan. The Earth Is Mostly Ocean; Simon, Seymour. Oceans.

I have added a book by Graeme Base called The Water Hole. It tells the story of fresh water drying up around a fictional water hole so it’s premise fits this lesson well. The illustrations are beautiful and the author used animals from all over the world—allowing us to discuss whether these animals would all share the same habitat!


These plans come from the Baltimore Core Knowledge Curriculum

Show the children a globe. Have one of the children come up and point out the United States where we live. Remind the children that the blue part on the globe represents water and the brown and green parts represent land. Tell the children that when astronauts orbit the Earth in the space shuttle, they can look out the window and see the Earth. They say the Earth looks like a beautiful blue marble.

Spin the globe slowly and ask: When you look at this model of the earth, does it look like there is more water or more land? (water) Nearly three-quarters of the Earth is covered with water. Draw a circle on the board and divide it into quarters. Shade one of the quarters and tell the children that if all the continents on earth were crowded together, they would take up this much space on the earth's surface. The rest would be ocean. Instead of calling it Earth, maybe we should call it the Blue Ocean Planet.

Tell the children that they will be learning about the ocean--about the plants and animals that live in the ocean, about what is at the bottom of the ocean and about how the ocean behaves at its edges where it meets the land.

Point to the world map and ask the children to name the oceans with you. After you have named them together, have them become ocean spotters come up and identify particular oceans on the map. When the children seem familiar with all the ocean names, tell them that although we have different names for oceans, the waters of the oceans are really all connected. They are really one big ocean. Show the children on the globe how the oceans are connected. Tell them the land masses are all islands sticking up out of one big ocean.

Tell the children that you are going to read them a silly nursery rhyme. Tell them this is a "what if..." nursery rhyme because it asks us to pretend and imagine "what if." Spin the globe as you read it.

 If All the World Were Apple Pie

 If all the world were apple pie

And all the sea were ink,

If all the trees were bread and cheese,

What would we have to drink?

We all know the sea is not really full of ink. What is the sea or the ocean? (water) The ocean is salt water. We can't drink it. That is why a person who is floating on a raft in the middle of the ocean might say, "Water water everywhere, but not a drop to drink."

Show the children the glass bowl. Say: Pretend that this bowl can hold all the sea water on earth. We're going to fill up the oceans. Pour the gallon container of water into the bowl. Tell the children that since the ocean is salt water, you need to add some salt. Ask a child to come up and pour some salt from the salt container into the bowl. Have another child come up and stir it with the spoon.

Now we have filled up the oceans on earth. Show the children a 1/4 teaspoon of water. Tell them that this tiny amount of water is all the fresh water there is on earth. Fresh water is not salty. This small amount represents all the fresh water there is in lakes, rivers, streams and in underground springs. The amount of fresh water on the earth is a tiny amount compared to the amount of salt water in the oceans. All the plants and land animals on earth must share this tiny amount of fresh water because it is the only drinking water we have. That is one of the reasons it is important not to pollute streams and lakes. We all need to help keep the fresh water on the earth clean.

I can’t remember where I got this idea but you can demonstrate the density of salt water. Drop a carrot in both salt and fresh water. It will float in salt because salt water is more dense. I will also drop colored salt water into fresh water and watch it sink. Where does the salt come from? Rocks being worn down!

I am going to read The Water Hole. It tells the story of fresh water drying up around a fictional water hole so it’s premise fits this lesson well. We’ll discuss the varied animals all placed in the same habitat as well.

First Grade - Science – Oceans Lesson 2 and 3


Describe landscape, creatures, and conditions in the ocean.


Pitcher of water, baby powder, a shallow pie tin, drinking straws, world map

Suggested Books

Cole, Joanna. The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor; Kesselman, Wendy. Sand in My Shoes; Rothaus, Don. Oceans; Rotner, Shelly and K. Kreisler. Ocean Day; Williams, Brian. Under the Sea

The NSTA lists include these books for use with this or subsequent lessons:

Earle, Sylvia A. Dive! My Adventures in the Deep Frontier; Earle, Sylvia A. Hello Fish! Visiting the Coral Reef; Kampion, Drew. Waves: From Surfing to Tsunami; Kovacs, Deborah and Kate Madin. Beneath Blue Waters: Meetings with Remarkable Deep-Sea Creatures; Kenneth Mallory. Diving to a Deep-Sea Volcano; Rizzo, Johnna. Oceans: Dolphins, Sharks, Penguins, and More!; Stockdale, Susan. Fabulous Fishes.


The Very Last First Time by Jan Andrews. Citizens of the Sea: Wondrous Creatures from the Census of Marine Life by Nancy Knowlton (great photos and interesting text).


Adapted from Nature in Nutshell for Kids by Jean Potter by Baltimore Core Knowledge plans. It is written like a script but the writers intended the teacher say it in his or her own words. 

Remind the children that last time they learned that nearly three-fourths of the Earth is covered with water. The continents are like islands poking up out of a great ocean. Ask: What kind of water makes up the ocean? (salt water) Can we drink salt water? (no) Tell the children that today they will be learning about what is at the bottom of the ocean and about why there are waves in the ocean.

Ask: Has anyone ever visited the seashore, played in the sand, jumped in the waves? Tell the children that they are going to take a make-pretend trip to the beach. Have the children stand in a line. Take a deep breath and say: Mmm. I smell ocean breezes. I think the ocean is this way. Point in a direction and lead the class around the classroom. After a short walk, shade your eyes and say: There it is! There is the ocean. I can see the sun sparkling on the water. Ask the children if they can hear the seagulls calling and the crash of the waves. Ask them if the sand is getting in their shoes. Shade your eyes again and say you think you see some dolphins way out in the water jumping and diving. Ask the children what else they see, hear or smell at the beach. Have the children put on their underwater diving suits. Tell them they are going to take a hike down to the bottom of the ocean. Their special diving suits will let them breathe underwater and communicate with walkie-talkies.

Lead the children into the "water" and tell them that they will be walking downhill for a while, going deeper and deeper into the ocean. Warn them not to get tangled in the seaweed. Point out schools of fish swimming by, a big sea turtle, an octopus, a lobster, jellyfish, a whale. Ask the children what they see. Tell them that they are walking along the continental shelf. Here the sunlight warms the water and there are many plants and animals. Tell them that as they go deeper into the ocean, they will come to a cliff edge. It is where the continent ends. Say: Here it is. This is the edge of the continental shelf. Down below it is very dark and very cold because the sunlight cannot reach this far. Lucky for us we have lights and heaters built into our diving suits. We're going to jump off this cliff, float down and see what is at the bottom of the ocean. "Jump" off the cliff and float down, down, down to the bottom. Tell the children that now they are walking on a flat plain on the ocean floor. Looking out across the plain you can see underwater mountains, volcanoes and huge canyons. Some of the mountains here in the ocean are taller than the tallest mountains up on land. The canyons are much bigger than the Grand Canyon.

Tell the children that the animals that live down here are strange looking. Because it is so dark, many of the fish have glow-in-the-dark spots on them. Say: Look, there is a school of lantern fish. And those spots of light over there are flashlight fish. In the deep ocean where we are walking, there are also swallower fish with big, big jaws and teeth that can swallow fish bigger than they are. They can't swallow anything as big as a person, so you don't have to worry about them. Tell the children that just ahead is an angler fish. The angler fish has a small glow-in-the-dark tassel near its mouth. It shakes the tassel to make small fish curious about it. Then when the small fish swim over to see what it is, the angler fish gobbles them up. That way it doesn't have to go hunting for meals in the dark.

Tell the children that it is time to head back up to the surface. Ask them to push the buttons on their rocket backpacks and jet to the surface with you. When you get back to the beach, have them remove their diving suits, hang them up and return to their seats. Ask: What did we see at the bottom of the ocean? (tall mountains, volcanoes, deep canyons, a flat plain, glow-in-the-dark fish) Write the answers on the board. Was it dark and cold down there? Why? (because the sunlight could not reach down that far).

We then looked at the  Citizens of the Sea book and watched the The Planet Earth Ocean Deep DVD.

We read this poem and then to close I invited them to tell a story or make a picture of ocean creature life or ocean exploration.


The Fish With the Deep Sea Smile

They fished and they fished

Way down in the sea,

Down in the sea a mile.

They fished among all the fish in the sea,

For the fish with the deep sea smile.

One fish came up from the deep of the sea,

From down in the sea a mile,

It had blue-green eyes

And whiskers three

But never a deep sea smile.

They fished and they fished

Way down in the sea,

Down in the sea a mile.

They fished among all the fish in the sea,

For the fish with the deep sea smile.

One fish came up with terrible teeth,

One fish with long strong jaws,

One fish came up with long stalked eyes,

One fish with terrible claws.

They fished all through the ocean deep,

For many and many a mile,

And they caught a fish with a laughing eye,

But none with a deep sea smile.

And then one day they got a pull,

From down in the sea a mile.

And when they pulled the fish into the boat,


And as he smiled, the hook got free,

And then, what a deep sea smile!

He flipped his tail and swam away,

Down in the sea a mile.

Margaret Wise Brown

Next Lesson:


Explain how wind pushes water to make waves and ocean currents.


Adapted from Nature in Nutshell for Kids by Jean Potter by Baltimore Core Knowledge plans. It is written like a script but the writers intended the teacher say it in his or her own words. 

Tell the children that now they are going to try to find the answer to another "why" question--Why are there waves in the ocean? Give each child a pie tin or shallow dish and a drinking straw. Pour enough water into each pie tin to cover the bottom. Tell the children to take turns holding their straws near the surface of the water and blowing first gently and then hard. Ask: What happens to the surface of the water? (It ripples. The water is pushed to the other side of the pan.) Ask: What do you think pushes the water? (The air from the straw.) Tell the children when they blow on the water, it is like the wind blowing on the ocean. The wind pushes the water and makes waves. When the wind blows harder, the waves are bigger.

Sprinkle a small amount of baby powder on the water in each pie pan. Have the children take turns gently blowing on the water without using the straws. Tell them the powder will help them see how the water is moving. Ask: Which way is the water moving? (in circles) Tell the children that as wind blows across the top of the ocean, it moves the water in circular patterns called currents. Write the word on the board. Currents can carry warm water to colder parts of the ocean. Write Gulf Stream on the board. Tell the children a current called the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic Ocean swirls up the coast of the United States. Show them on the world map the path the Gulf Stream takes up the coast. Tell them the Gulf Stream is a current that carries warm water.

Sort of a side note but this is an interesting video about Ben Franklin and the Gulf Stream. We looked at part of the Waves: From Surfing to Tsunami book but it was just ok to me.

Tell the children that they have seen how water can be pushed by wind, but there is another way to move water--it can be pulled. Say: Can you think how water could be pulled? (Accept all answers.) Tell the children that, believe it or not, it is the moon that pulls water in the ocean. I used the idea in this video to illustrate tides.

Ask: If you made a sand castle in the wet sand at the beach when the tide was low, what would happen to the castle later in the day? (The high tide would come up and waves would sweep the castle away.) It might be nice to read The Very Last First Time by Jan Andrews to talk about tides.

We read The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor. It covers all the topics in this series of lessons in an entertaining way so it's nice to sum up and review.

The Exploring Ed activity contained in this link seems like a great way to end the habitats portion of these lessons.  Instructions start on page 11 of the pdf

First Grade - Science – Ocean Protection


Identify and create cut-out pictures of some marine animals.

Describe ways people's actions can endanger ocean animals.


Clear plastic bag

Plastic ring holder for six-pack beverage cans

Half cup of vegetable oil mixed with a little red food coloring

Large clear bowl of water

Mural paper, colored construction paper, scissors, paste

Suggested Books

Chermayeff, Ivan. Fishy Facts (used in the lesson); Curran, Eileen. Life in the Sea; Doubilet, Anne. Under the Sea from A to Z; Fowler, Allan. The Best Way to See a Shark; Fowler, Allan. The Biggest Animal Ever; Gibbons, Gail. Whales; Gibbons, Gail. Sea Turtles; Gibbons, Gail. Sharks; Lauber, Patricia. An Octopus is Amazing; Ling, Mary. Amazing Fish; Milton, Joyce. Whales, The Gentle Giants; Miller, Sarah ed. Sea Life; Pallotta, Jerry. Underwater Alphabet Book. New York: Charlesbridge, 1991. Describes fish and other creatures that call a coral reef habitat home.

The NSTA lists include these books: Cerullo, Mary M. Sea Soup: Zooplankton; Earle, Sylvia A. Dive! My Adventures in the Deep Frontier; Earle, Sylvia A. Hello Fish! Visiting the Coral Reef; Kampion, Deborah and Kate Madin. Beneath Blue Waters: Meetings with Remarkable Deep-Sea Creatures; Kenneth Mallory. Diving to a Deep-Sea Volcano; Rizzo, Johnna. Oceans: Dolphins, Sharks, Penguins, and More!; Stockdale, Susan. Fabulous Fishes.


Note: This lesson comes from the Baltimore Core Knowledge plans. It’s meant to be read and presented in your own words.

Remind the children that previously they took a hike to the bottom of the ocean and saw the tallest mountains and the deepest canyons on Earth. Tell them that the biggest animal in the whole world lives in the ocean. Ask: What do you think is the name of that animal? (whale) Tell the children that there are many different kinds of whales but the biggest is the Blue Whale. It is so big that it is bigger than an elephant, bigger than the biggest dinosaur that ever lived, bigger than six school bus parked bumper-to-bumper. Its heart is the size of a car. The Blue Whale is a big eater, too. It can eat four tons of small shrimp every day.  Note: I found a really neat blue whale interactive. 

Remind the children that they saw some animals smaller than the Blue Whale on their hike. Ask: What are some other animals besides whales that live in the ocean? Brainstorm with the class and make a list on the board (shark, dolphin, sea turtle, jellyfish, tuna, electric eel, stingray, octopus, crab, seal, starfish, sea horse, shrimp, etc.) Tell the children that you'd like to play a riddle game about animals that live in the ocean. Read the children the following clues and see if they can guess what ocean animal you are describing. When they have guessed, show them a picture of the animal from one of the books suggested above.

Riddle me, riddle me under the sea,

Can you guess what my name might be?

I have big jaws full of sharp, pointy teeth.

There's a triangle fin on my back.

People are afraid of me. They think I will bite them.

But I only bite people by accident.


Riddle me, riddle me under the sea,

Can you guess what my name might be?

I float in the sea

I don't have any bones.

I catch my food with my stinging tentacles.

My name sounds like it goes with peanut butter.


Riddle me, riddle me under the sea,

Can you guess what my name might be?

I have a shell and claws to pinch.

I walk sideways on four pairs of legs.

My eyes are on the ends of stalks.


Riddle me, riddle me under the sea,

Can you guess what my name might be?

I have eight arms and a soft body.

Suction cups on my arms help me grab starfish and crabs to eat.

If a shark is chasing me, I can shoot out a cloud of ink and make my getaway.


Riddle me, riddle me under the sea,

Can you guess what my name might be?

I have a shell that protects my body.

I have no teeth, but I can crush crabs with my beak. I also like to eat jellyfish.

I use my flippers to push myself through the water.

I live in the ocean, but I crawl up onto land to lay my eggs in the sand.

(sea turtle)

Share pictures of some other sea animals with the children. Tell the children that there are also very, very tiny plants and animals that float in the ocean. Make a tiny dot on the board. Tell the children that these plants and animals are much smaller than the dot. They are so small that you need a microscope to see them. These plants and animals are called plankton. Write the word on the board and ask the children to repeat the word with you. Tell the children that sea water has lots and lots of plankton floating in it. Plankton is an important food for animals that live in the ocean. I used parts of the  Sea Soup: Zooplankton book. I used it to make a distinction between phytoplankton and zooplankton but the Magic School Bus book does it better. The book was just ok to me for this age. 

Tell the children that people, of course, don't live in the ocean. We live on the land. Sometimes without thinking, people do things that hurt the ocean and the animals in it. People throw garbage into the ocean because they aren't thinking about the animals that live there. The garbage pollutes the water where the fish, whales and dolphins swim.

Show the children the plastic bag and drink rings. Ask the children to identify them. Put the bag in the water. Tell the children that floating plastic bags can look like jellyfish to sea turtles. When the sea turtle tries to eat the bag, it blocks up the turtle's stomach and the turtle starves to death. Tell the children that baby seals and sea birds get the drink rings stuck around their necks and cannot live. Demonstrate this with your hand. Tell the children that fishing boats lose nets and line in the water and animals get tangled in them and can't get out. Ask: What do you think people can do to protect ocean animals? (Don't throw trash into the ocean. Recycle plastic waste.) We watched this and then I made the points above.

Tell the children that another way people hurt ocean animals is by spilling things into the ocean. Sometimes big tanker ships carrying oil have accidents and lots of oil spills into the ocean. This file has a neat activity to illustrate oil spills and cleaning up animals that we did.   Tell the children that oil spreads out over the top of water like a blanket and blocks the sunlight. The animals get coated with the oil. The oil washes up on beaches and makes an oily mess that hurts birds, fish, shellfish and crabs. Ship designers are trying to design ships with super-strong hulls and tanks so the oil will not spill out. This video might be a good one to show


Unroll mural paper (when I taught I used the plain white wrapping paper sold at Walmart in a pinch for these types of things). Tell the children that the class is going to make a giant ocean picture. They are going to create all sorts of animals to live in this giant ocean picture. Distribute construction paper, scissors and paste. If they have not already seen them, show the children the cut-paper illustrations in Fishy Facts. Review the list of ocean animals on the board and tell the children to make creatures to fill the ocean picture. We talked about the phytoplankton (and plastic...) we can't even see in our picture.

First Grade – Science, Food Chains Lesson 1


Describe a food chain in the ocean.

Explain the importance of plants (plankton) in ocean food chains.


Bender, Robert. A Most Unusual Lunch; Relf, Patricia and B. Degen. The Magic School Bus Gets Eaten, A Book About Food Chains.

From the NSTA lists Crenson, Victoria. Horseshoe Crabs and Shorebirds: The Story of a Food Web; Cerrulo, Mary M. Sea Soup: Zooplankton.


I’m going to use a pyramid food chain activity (page 5, E in this lesson) to introduce food chains today. Afterward, explain that we’ll focus on ocean food chains.

Read The Magic School Bus Gets Eaten

Play an ocean food chain game: 

Gulp and Swallow game

or Food Chain Checkers

I couldn’t find A Most Unusual Lunch in our interlibrary system. The Baltimore plan calls for the use of this book in a creative way and I would have used their idea if I had the book!

Instead, we’ll do one of these interactive food webs:

Neat link—learn about and build a food chain.

Here is another neat one.

I used on of the above to close this lesson and then the other on the following day. This is another online food chain building thing. It’s not as nice visually but you build multiple chains.


First Grade - Science - Food Chains Lesson 2


Explain role of plants as food makers.

Brainstorm names of some plants that people eat.

Illustrate movement of energy from the sun through the food chain.


Potted plant, watering can, Bean bag, Strips of paper (3 1/2" wide x 11" long), crayons

Suggested Books

Geraghty, Paul. Over the Steamy Swamp; Gibbons, Gail. From Seed to Plant. New York: Holiday House, 1991;

The NSTA lists include these books: Crenson, Victoria. Horseshoe Crabs and Shorebirds: The Story of a Food Web; Heinz, Brian J. Butternut Hollow Pond; Johansson, Philip. The Temperate Forest: A Web of Life.

Procedure Note: This lesson comes from the Baltimore Core Knowledge plans and would be used as a guide for the teacher rather than a script.

We began with Over the Steamy Swamp by Paul Geraghty. This reviewed food chains in a very entertaining way. I prompton them to remember that food chains in the ocean start with plankton, tiny ocean plants. We noted plants were missing mention in the Steamy Swamp book.  I noted that plants are at the beginning of food chains.

Show the children the potted plant. Ask: What does a green plant like this one need to grow? Write the answers on the board (sunlight, water, soil). Tell the children that you planted the plant in soil, water it almost every day, and keep it in a sunny place. The plant breathes through tiny holes in its leaves so it needs air, too. Ask: How do you think the plant eats? (Accept all answers.) Tell the children that under the soil the plant has roots that suck up water and nutrition from the soil. Show the children how you water the plant around its roots. Tell them that if the plant was outside, the rain would fall on it, run down its leaves and stem to the roots under the soil.

Tell the children that plants can do something special, something animals cannot do. They can use the sunshine, water, air and soil to make their own food. Plants capture the energy from the sun and change it into food. Polar bears, people, grasshoppers, boa constrictors, pigeons, goldfish, rabbits, germs--all the creatures on Earth--have to eat food to get energy. Green plants can make food from the sun's energy, from sunshine. When we eat plants, we are getting the sun's energy. When we eat, we get energy to grow and run and jump and sing and read and draw pictures and many other things.

Have the children sit in a circle. Take out the bean bag. Playing music of some sort if there is more than one child or with a timer if there is just a parent child pass or toss the beanbag back and forth. When the music or timer stops the person holding the bean bag names a plant we eat. 

Tell the children that when we eat a plant, it makes a short food chain. Draw an apple on the board with an arrow to a stick figure person. Say: The sun's energy passes from the plant to the person, just one pass of an energy packet. Let's see if we can make a longer food chain.

Note: I will use stuffed animals for this activity since I only have two children. Have a child come up and hold the bean bag. Tell the children that this child is the sun. Have the child pick another child to come up. Tell the children that this child is grass. Have the sun pass the bean bag "energy packet" to grass. Say: Now grass has the sun's energy packet. Have grass choose another child to come up. Tell the children that this child is cow. Ask grass to pass on the energy packet to cow. Tell the children that cow has eaten the grass and now has the sun's energy packet. Have cow choose a child to come up. Tell the children that this child is a first grader called Milk Drinker. Tell the children that cow gives milk and Milk Drinker drinks a tall glass of the milk. Have cow pass on the energy packet to Milk Drinker. Tell the children that now Milk Drinker has the energy packet that started with the sun. Count with the children the number of passes (links) in the food chain. Tell the children that Milk Drinker is at the top of the food chain. Nobody is going to eat him...unless a big dinosaur comes along...a Milk Drinker-eating dinosaur. Then the dinosaur would be the top of the food chain.

Closing Activities

Have the children create food chain bookmarks on the strips of paper.

Visit a grocery store to see how many different plants people eat. (Don’t forget popcorn, jelly, spinach, onions, and sugar).

First Grade - Science - What Animals Eat


Organize animals according to what they eat.

Compare the teeth of plant eaters and meat eaters.


Pictures of a tiger and a cow

A pair of sunglasses

Three signs that read: Eat Only Meat Diner, Green Leaf Cafe, and Meat and Salad Place

A slip of paper for each child with the name of an animal on it

Pictures of animal teeth for a transparency

Suggested Books

Lauber, Patricia. What Big Teeth You Have; Munsterberg, Peggy. Beastly Banquet: Tasty Treats for Animal Appetites; Steig, William. Doctor DeSoto

It think it might be fun to read Ray, H. A. Elizabite.


Note: Some of this lesson is based upon the Baltimore Core Knowledge plans.

Tape the three signs on the board in three different places. Remind the children that last time they learned about food chains and how food chains start with plants. Animals get their energy either from eating plants or from eating other animals. Show the children a picture of the tiger and ask: Does this animal eat plants or other animals? (animals) Tell the children the tiger is a meat eater. Write meat eater on the board and ask the children to help you make a list of some other animals that eat only meat. Some animals on the list might be lion, wolf, dog, seal, killer whale, eagle.

Show the children the picture of a cow. Ask: Does a cow eat plants or animals? (plants-grass) Tell the children that a cow is a plant eater. Write plant eater on the board and ask the children to help you to add to this list as well. Some animals that might be on the plant eater list: elephant, horse, deer, kangaroo, squirrel, moose, giraffe.

Show the children a picture of a person. Ask: Are people plant eaters or animals eaters? (They eat both plants and animals.) Tell the children that there are other animals that eat both plants and animals. Write plant and animal eater on the board. Ask the children if they can think of any animals that eat both plants and animals. (Bears eat fish and berries. Raccoons eat frogs and fruit. Moles make tunnels underground and eat earthworms and the underground parts of plants.)

Put on the sunglasses and tell the children that, now that you have your making-pretend glasses on, you can see that the children are really animals. You can see that some of them have long fur. Some of them have sharp teeth. Some of them even have whiskers. I’ll have slips of paper in a bucket to draw out. Each person “becomes” the animal as he draws a slip.

Point to the Meat Only Diner sign. Tell the children that everyone knows tigers have to hunt for food. They don't shop in the grocery store. But if tigers did go to restaurants, this is the restaurant they would pick. Write Menu under the sign and list what the meat eaters eat. Read aloud the sign for the Green Leaf Cafe and ask: What kind of animals would eat dinner at this restaurant? (plant eaters) List their food choices under the Cafe's menu. Do the same for the Meat and Salad Place. List the menu for this restaurant. When the children return to their seats, review the menus in the three restaurants. Take off the glasses and express relief that now the children are back to normal.

We’ll draw our slips and visit the appropriate restaurant.

We will watch this video about the food chain.

Then I read Dr. De Soto by Steig and introduced the idea that we can look at teeth to give us clues as to whether an animal is a herbivore, carnivore, or omnivore.

I then used the book What Big Teeth You Have by Patricia Lauber to cover the material about teeth presented in this lesson. I also used the rhymes and information about eyes and feet from this reading If books aren't available the CK Baltimore lesson has the information contained within the lesson as well.

We closed with Elizabite for fun.  Then we created pictures of an imaginary animal of each type paying attention to physical clues we needed to incorporate.


First Grade - Science - Rachel Carson


Recognize the significance of Rachel Carson and her book Silent Spring.

Explain how poisons such as DDT travel through a food chain.

Suggested Books

Accorsi, William. Rachel Carson; Green, Carol and Steven Dobson. Rachel Carson: Friend of Nature; Ransom, Candice. Listening to Crickets: A Story About Rachel Carson; Sabin, Francene. Rachel Carson: Friend of the Earth; Schlank, Carol and Barbara Metzger. A Clean Sea: The Rachel Carson Story.

The NSTA lists Rachel: The Story of Rachel Carson by Amy Ehrlich.


Remind the children that last time they learned about animal teeth and about plant-eating and meat-eating animals. Because all animals eat, including people, we are all part of food chains. Tell the children that today they are going to learn about a person who discovered something strange happening in food chains, something dangerous to animals and to people. She wrote a book about what she discovered called Silent Spring. The writer's name was Rachel Carson.

Read one of the suggested books about Rachel Carson to the class or read the description contained in the Baltimore Plans *note the book choices and introductory paragraph came from this site.

Then we set up a litle food web together. The boys determined the components mostly but I made sure we included  misquitos, birds, cattle, and people. Then I put poison to kill the misquitos in the chain so we could solidify the concept of poisons traveling through a food chain.



First Grade - Science - Pollution


Describe what happens to garbage.

Identify some items that are recyclable.

Brainstorm ways to use less paper and save trees.


A plastic trash bag containing various kinds of trash: six-pack ring, plastic bottles, fast food paper packaging, egg carton, meat tray, glass jars, cereal box, newspaper, soup can, some junk mail

A paper bag and a blue plastic bag

A box of junk mail

Scissors, paste and and a previously used, business-size envelope for each child (Tape the envelopes shut.)

A sample envelope puppet (see attached sheet for directions)

Suggested Books

Brown, Laurie Krasny and Marc Brown. Dinosaurs to the Rescue!; Earthworks Group, 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Recycle; Fowler, Allan. Recycle That!; Fowler, Allan. Too Much Trash; Gibbons, Gail. Recycle! A Handbook for Kids.; Halsey, Megan. Three Pandas Planting; Lauber, Patricia. Be A Friend to Trees; Showers, Paul. Where Does the Garbage Go?; Van Allsburg, Chris. Just A Dream; Wilkes, Angela. My First Green Book.

The NSTA lists Burne, David. Endangered Planet (Kingfisher Knowledge)

I saw a book by Ellie Bethel called Michael Recycle when I was looking at the above options on Amazon and I plan to use it along with Where Does the Garbage Go.

I believe our library has a Magic School Bus Holiday Special DVD that includes an episode on recycling.


This lesson comes from the Baltimore Plans I actually used the above books to cover the topics presented in this lesson. I'll go ahead and include the text from the Baltimore plans though. 

Remind the children that last time they learned about Rachel Carson and how DDT got into the food chain. Ask: Why did people spray DDT? (to kill mosquitoes and other insects) Tell the children that DDT polluted the environment. Tell them that there are other things that pollute the environment. Empty the trash bag on a table and show the children the contents. Have a child come up and identify the objects. Tell the children that what we throw away can also pollute the environment. Remind the children that they learned how plastic bags and six-pack rings can hurt animals in the ocean. Ask: What do you think happens to the garbage we put in the trash cans? After the sanitation workers pick it up and throw it in a truck, where do you think the garbage goes? (Accept all answers.)

Tell the children that in some places trucks carry the garbage to a big, big hole in the ground called a landfill. The trucks dump the garbage into the hole. Every day trucks roll in with more and more garbage to dump in the landfill. When the hole is full, earthmovers push dirt over it to bury the garbage. Then sometimes a playground is built on top. But there is always more garbage to get rid of, so another big, big hole is dug to make a new landfill. Ask: Do you think that is a good way to get rid of garbage? Why or why not? (Accept all answers.) Tell the children that in other places garbage is loaded on big flat boats called barges. Tug boats pull the barges out into the ocean and dump the garbage into the water. Ask: Do you think this is a good way to get rid of garbage? (Accept all answers.) Tell the children that in Baltimore, garbage from garbage cans goes to a big furnace and is burned. Just as when anything burns, burning garbage makes smoke and ashes. The ashes have to go to a landfill to be buried. Ask: Do you think this is a good way to get rid of garbage? (Accept all answers.)

Tell the children that the trouble with garbage is that there is always more and more of it. People use things and throw things away. Everyday many, many cereal boxes and potato chip bags and egg cartons and meat trays and jars and bottles all get thrown away. Ask: How many of you have heard the word recycle? What does recycle mean? (use something again) In Baltimore, we recycle glass bottles and jars, plastic containers, metal cans and paper. Trucks come and pick up blue bags full of bottles and cans and paper bags full of paper and squashed cardboard boxes. They are taken to recycling plants. The glass bottles are melted down and made into new bottles. Cans are melted down to make new cans. Waste paper is chopped up and made into new paper. Plastic is chopped up, melted and used to make new plastic things.

Tell the children that there are things on the table from the trash bag that can be recycled. Ask children one-by-one to come up, choose an object that can be recycled and tell the class what it is. Have them put the objects in the appropriate recycling container-- a blue plastic bag or paper bag--for recycling.

Show the children the paper bag and tell them that to make new paper or cardboard, trees need to be cut down. This is because new paper is made from wood. The more new paper we make, the more forests need to be cut down. By recycling paper, making new paper from old paper, we can save trees. Another way to save trees is to use less paper, not waste it. Brainstorm with the children some ways we could use less paper. (Take a shopping bag to the store to carry home what we buy. Use dishes and glasses instead of paper plates and cups. Use the backs of papers to draw pictures or make shopping lists instead of taking a new sheet. Reuse boxes and gift bags. Don't use a lot of paper towels to dry our hands. Use boxes to make toys.)

Show the children an envelope from the junk mail box and tell them that today they are going to recycle old envelopes by turning them into puppets. They will be able to save trees and have fun at the same time. Demonstrate how to fold and cut an envelope to make a hand puppet. Show them a puppet that you have made. Suggest that the children cut up the other junk mail to make eyes, ears, noses and tongues to paste on their puppets. Perhaps they can make dog and cat puppets, or people puppets, or monsters, or ocean creatures or characters from stories such as the "Three Little Pigs." Give each child an envelope, assorted junk mail, scissors and a quantity of paste. When the children are finished making their puppets, suggest that some volunteers come up and put on a puppet show with their puppets. You can steer the story line by suggesting the "Three Little Pigs" or some other well-known story.

Recycle a cereal box or other cardboard box by making it into something--a truck, a house, a game, etc.

First Grade - Science - Habitat Destruction


Recognize that environmental change can cause habitat destruction.

Explain how people can destroy and create habitats.

Recognize that people are not the only force that can cause habitat creation or destruction.

Create a small habitat and observe any creatures that move in.

Suggested Books

Aardema, Verna. Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain; Baker, Jeannie. Window; Burton, Virginia Lee. The Little House; Cherry, Lynne. A River Ran Wild; Clarke, Barry. Amazing Frogs and Toads; Cooney, Barbara. Miss Rumphius; Fleming, Denise. Where Once There Was a Wood; Jaspersohn, William. How the Forest Grew; Kalas, Sybille. Beaver Family Book; Rounds, Glen. Beaver, How He Works; Parker, Nancy Wilson. Frogs, Toads, Lizards and Salamanders; Peet, Bill. Farewell to Shady Glade; Ryder, Joanne. The Snail's Spell; Tresselt, Alvin. Beaver Pond; Turner, Ann. Heron Street; Vogel, Carole and Kathryn Goldner. The Great Yellowstone Fire; Wiesner, David. Hurricane; Yolen, Jane. Letting Swift Water Go. The NTSA lists Shelterwood by Susan Hand Shetterly.

I’m going to use Uno’s Garden by Graeme Base along with Farewell to Shady Glade and perhaps Shelterwood.


This lesson comes from the Baltimore Plans

Remind the children that they have learned about animals' habitats. Ask: What is an animal's habitat? (its neighborhood, where it lives) Remind the children that deserts, meadows, oceans, forests, ponds, backyards and neighborhood parks are all habitats. Certain animals need certain habitats. Ask: Would a whale be able to live in the forest? (No, the forest is not its habitat. It lives in the ocean.) Ask: Would an earthworm be able to live in a pond? (No, a pond is not its habitat. It lives underground.) Ask: If you take away an animal's habitat, what happens to the animal? (It cannot find what it needs to live and it will die.)

I think I will read Udo’s Garden by Graeme Base. The Baltimore Plans for this lesson have a story to tell instead but if this book is available the illustrations are beautiful and the story seems ideal for this lesson. 

Tell the children that people can have a big effect on habitats. They can cause changes to a habitat so that animals cannot live there anymore. Remind the children that they learned about animals that live in forests. Ask: What do you think happens when the trees are cut down and houses are built. What happens to the animals that lived in the forest? (They must find another forest to live in or die.) Ask: What happens when we clear more and more land to build more and more houses? (There is less and less forest for animals to live in.)

Tell the children that environments are always changing. Some of the changes are fast and some are slower. Ask the children to imagine that there was an old house. Some workers came and knocked the house down. They took away the big pile of bricks and wood and left bare earth where the house had been. Then some people in the neighborhood came with shovels and rakes. They dug holes and planted trees. They put up little fences and put seeds in the ground to grow flowers and vegetables. When the flowers bloomed, bees came looking for flower nectar. Birds built nests in the branches of the growing trees. Earthworms tunneled through the soil in the gardens. All these animals found habitats where once there was an old house. The environment had changed and now there was a place for the animals to live. People can destroy or create habitats for animals.

Ask: Are people the only ones that can create or destroy habitat? (no) Tell the children that changes in the environment aren't always caused by people. Hurricanes can knock down trees and flood streams. If there is a drought and it doesn't rain, ponds can dry up, meadows can turn brown and die. Ask: What else might change an environment? (earthquakes, volcano eruptions, landslides, forest fires) Tell the children that a family of beavers can change an environment and its habitats. If beavers gnaw down trees and build a dam across a stream to block its flow, the stream will spread out. It will flood the land to make a lake or large pond. Show the children pictures of beavers and a beaver pond from suggested books on beavers. Tell the children that when beavers create a pond, stream animals move out or die and animals that need a pond habitat move in. Trees that are flooded die. Woodpeckers come and build nests in holes they make in the dead trees. Reeds grow on the edges of the pond. Frogs swim in the still water among the reeds. Water snakes come to eat the frogs. Beavers destroyed a stream habitat but they created a pond habitat.

Activity Ideas

I’m going to do this neat activity involving affects on Blue Penguins

I might do this interactive.

This activity is about endangered ecosystems. It might be better for an older child.

Sea survivor game

First Grade - Science - Dinosaurs and Extinct Animals


Explain what the term extinct means.

Compare the teeth and predict the diets of two dinosaurs.

Describe aspects of a dinosaur by looking at its footprints.


Pictures of dinosaurs from suggested books

Picture of dinosaur footprints for a transparency

Paper and crayons for each child

Suggested Books

Aliki. Dinosaur Bones ; Barton, Byron. Bones, Bones, Dinosaur Bones; Davis, Susan. The Dinosaur Who Lived in My Backyard; Dixon, Dougal. Be A Dinosaur Detective; Dodson, Peter. Alphabet of Dinosaurs; Grambling, Lois. Can I Have A Stegosaurus, Mom? Please? Can I?; Horner, John. and D. Lessem. Digging Up Tyrannosaurus Rex; Joyce, William. Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo; Mullins, Patricia. Dinosaur Encore; Mullins, Patricia. V for Vanishing: An Alphabet of Endangered Animals; Rohmann, Eric. Time Flies; Wilkes, Angela. The Big Book of Dinosaurs: A First Book for Young Children

I hope Animals You Never Even Heard Of by Patricia Curtis is good. I have requested the bolded books through interlibrary loan.


This lesson comes from the Baltimore Plans

Remind the children that they have been studying changes to habitats--the neighborhoods where animals and plants live. People can change animals' habitats by cutting down rain forest or building parking lots or planting gardens. Weather can change habitats, too. Hurricanes can knock down trees; too little rain can cause plants to die. Volcanoes and earthquakes can change habitats by covering them with lava and ashes or knocking down forests. Ask: What happens when an animal's habitat is destroyed? (It must find a new habitat or die.)

Write the word extinct on the board and have the children say it with you. Tell the children that when a particular kind of animal or plant has no more habitat and the very last one in the world dies, that animal or plant is called extinct. There are no more of them in the world and there never will be again. It is extinct. Tell the children that another word people use to describe animals and plants is endangered. That means a plant or animal is in danger of becoming extinct, so we call it endangered.

Ask: Are dinosaurs endangered or extinct? (extinct) Tell the children that the last dinosaur died 65 million years ago, long before there were any people on Earth. Ask: What do you think happened that caused the dinosaurs to become extinct? (Accept all answers.) Ask: Do you think dinosaurs had habitats, too? Suppose the environment changed and their habitats were destroyed. Do you think that is why they became extinct? No one really knows for sure.

Tell the children that since dinosaurs lived such a long time ago, the only thing we have left of them are fossils--bones and teeth and footprints that have turned to stone. We can't go to the zoo to see live dinosaurs. We have to be detectives. We have to look at the clues we have. Remind the children that they know something about animal teeth. Ask: What kind of teeth do meat-eating animals have? (sharp pointed teeth for stabbing and tearing) Show the children a picture of Tyrannosaurus rex . Tell them its name and that it means tyrant lizard or bully lizard. Ask: By looking at its teeth, was Tyrannosaurus rex a meat eater or a plant eater? (meat eater) Tell the children that Tyrannosaurus rex was the largest meat-eating dinosaur that scientists know about. One of its sharp teeth was bigger than a person's hand. It ate other dinosaurs. Show the children a picture of Triceratops from one of the suggested books. Tell the children the word triceratops means three-horned face. Ask the children to look at its mouth. Ask: Does this dinosaur's mouth look like a turtle's beak? From the fossil skeletons, scientists know this dinosaur had flat cheek teeth with ridges in them. What do you think this dinosaur ate? (plants) Show the children pictures of other types of dinosaurs in the suggested books and tell them that some kinds of dinosaurs were as big as a tall building and other kinds were as small as chickens. Some walked on two legs, others on four legs. Some dinosaurs laid eggs and took care of their babies in nests.

Show the children a picture of dinosaur footprints.   Ask: Suppose as dinosaur detectives you found dinosaur footprints and they looked like this. What do they tell you about the dinosaur that made them? Did this dinosaur walk on two legs? Four legs? (two legs) Did its tail drag on the ground? (No, there isn't any mark where the tail was dragging.) How many toes did this dinosaur have? (three) Do you think this dinosaur was hopping, running or walking? (running or walking, if it were hopping, the footprints would be right next to each other) Tell the children that they are very smart dinosaur detectives.

Have the children draw a picture of the dinosaur that made the footprints. Suggest that they also create a habitat for the dinosaur--did it live in a forest, a swamp, a desert? What kind of plants were there in its environment? Were there tall trees or little bushes? Were there lakes or streams? Ask them to give the dinosaur a name.

I’ll be doing a dinosaur diorama and the activity contained in the Scholastic download book as well.

We’ll take a look at some endangered or extinct animals. I am going to try to find a good library book. I will preview Animals You Never Even Heard Of by Patricia Curtis as an option.  I also have these two videos as options if I can’t find a good book.