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Habitat Snow Globes

Students design a snow globe to showcase the plants, animals and organisms found in a specific habitat.

Apps: Wixie®

image of clear snowglobe in front of alpine habitat

Task

Snow globes are popular souvenirs from tourist attractions. In this project, students research the animals and plants in a specific habitat and design a habitat snow globe.

Engage

Since students love animals, using a specific animal to introduce your students to the concept of a habitat.

For example, you can show your students a picture of a polar bear, such as this amazing image from Andreas Weith on Wikipedia.

image of polar bear jumping from one ice flow to the next

As a class, conduct a brainstorming session to tap into knowledge your students may already have about what polar bears need to survive. What weather and climate would it need? What does it eat? What plants and animals provide food for a polar bear’s diet?

Read the book Where do Polar Bears Live? by Sarah L. Thompson to introduce your students to facts about polar bear’s habitats and to discover if their predictions were accurate.

Use a mix of print, image, and video resources to introduce your students to the idea of habitats. Watch this video on habitats.

Let students know that they will be designing a snow globe to represent a specific habitat, showing important plants and animals that live in it.

Collect different examples of snow globes or ask students (parents) to bring their own snow globes to class. Once you have several sample snow globes, ask students to identify and think about the objects in each one. For example, a snow globe for a tourist destination may include important buildings and monuments to to show you what you might see if you visited that location.

First, ask students to observe the objects in each snow globe. Then, ask them to think about why the snow globe designer chose those objects. Discuss what the purpose of each snow globe might be.

Create

Have individual students choose a habitat they are interested in learning more about. Do your best to Get students excited about all of the different habitats and biomes so you have a well-rounded classroom introduction to various habitats. You may want to have students list their top three choices so you can ensure they at least get a habitat that interests them and you ensure a range to explore and compare.

Ask students to conduct research about the identifying features of the habitat they are interested in, such as weather and climate, as well as some of the key plant and animal species that live there.

Have students take notes and represent information they find using a cluster organizer.

sample of a student cluster organizer for the savanna grassland habitat
Make your own cluster graphic organizer worksheet at graphicorganizer.net

Provide students with an empty snow globe template and have students draw a design showing the plants and animals found there.

If your students have access to a digital creativity tool like Wixie®, you can assign a snow globe template to them. Students can use Wixie’s paint tools to draw their designs, as well as add images from the media library.

Wixie’s media library has an opaque snowglobe students can layer on top of their snowglobe designs when they are finished. To find this sticker, select the Image button and search for “snow globe” at the dialog.

Students should write and add a paragraph about their design, describing the habitat and why they chose specific animals and plants to represent the habitat.

Share

Create an area for a snow globe showcase in one part of your room. Task students with designing the display so that designs for the same habitat are grouped together.

Ask students with snow globes for the same habitat to compare their work and identify similarities and differences in their designs. Then, ask each student to complete a self-reflection about their work. Their self-reflection should include the strengths of their design, as well as ways they feel they might be able to improve upon their designs after viewing and discussing their classmate’ designs.

Invite students in other classes to tour the showcase to learn about different habitats. Your designers can act as docents to describe their work and answer questions. You might also want to invite a local landscape designer or zoologist to visit or even evaluate student designs.

Assessment

Initial discussions about habitats with your students will help you assess their prior knowledge about different habitats, as well as the plants and animals found in them. Their snow globe design serves as a summative assessment helping you evaluate student understanding of plant and animal adaptations that help them survive.

Create your own rubric for free at rubric-maker.com

You can also evaluate student thinking as they discuss the similarities and differences between snow globe designs for the same habitat. Student self-reflections can also address how well a student understands the interplay between animals and plants in their habitat.

Resources

Donald Silver. One Small Square (series).

Sarah L. Thompson. Where do Polar Bears Live?. ISBN: 0061575186

SwitchZoo: Build a Biome Game

Smithsonian Science Education Center: Habitats

National Geographic: Habitats

Standards

Next Generation Science Standards - Life Science Grades 3-5

3-LS4-1 Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity

Make observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats.

3-LS4-3 Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity

Construct an argument with evidence that in a particular habitat some organisms can survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all.

4-LS1-1 From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes

Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction.

Common Core State Standards - English Language Arts - Grades 2 and 3

Reading Informational Text

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.RI.2.7
Explain how specific images (eg., a diagram showing how a machine works) contribute to and clarify a text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.2.2
Write informative/explanatory texts in which they introduce a topic, use facts and definitions to develop points, and provide a concluding statement or section.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.2.7
Participate in shared research and writing projects (e.g., read a number of books on a single topic to produce a report; record science observations).

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.RI.3.7
Use information gained from illustrations (e.g., maps, photographs) and the words in a text to demonstrate understanding of the text (e.g., where, when, why, and how key events occur).

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.2.A
Introduce a topic and group related information together; include illustrations when useful to aiding comprehension.

ISTE NETS for Students 2016:

3. Knowledge Constructor
Students critically curate a variety of resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts and make meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others. Students:

a. plan and employ effective research strategies to locate information and other resources for their intellectual or creative pursuits.

b. evaluate the accuracy, perspective, credibility and relevance of information, media, data or other resources.

c. curate information from digital resources using a variety of tools and methods to create collections of artifacts that demonstrate meaningful connections or conclusions.

d. build knowledge by actively exploring real-world issues and problems, developing ideas and theories and pursuing answers and solutions.

6. Creative Communicator
Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals. Students:

a. choose the appropriate platforms and tools for meeting the desired objectives of their creation or communication.

b. create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.

c. communicate complex ideas clearly and effectively by creating or using a variety of digital objects such as visualizations, models or simulations.

d. publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for their intended audiences.

Integrate Technology into Elementary Science

Ideas for engaging elementary students in science as they explore the curriculum through creative projects.

Get this FREE guide that includes:

  • Articles and Project Ideas
  • Lesson Plans
  • Sample Student Work
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