Last week, my class did their science project about habitats. Each group had to make a habitat using both natural and man-made objects. Each habitat was scaled down to fit in a shoebox. They used twigs and plant shoots to make trees and branches, stones for rocks, and tiny grass blades for vegetation. Students living close to the beach brought sand and tiny shells. For the man-made materials, they used play dough, North American animals, aquatic animals, rainforest animals, safari animals, farm animals, and river animals. I can't even begin to tell you how much fun this was for my students. I let each group take turns to go out in the school garden to collect natural materials for their habitats.
This group used two shades of brown play-dough for the muddy wetland. The lighter brown is the water. The twigs represent mangrove trees.
This group made the sea water, fishes, starfish, and seashells (I think) with play dough. The sand came from a dark-sand beach.
One group found a flowering plant with tiny orange seeds that resembled miniature pumpkins. They included it in their farm habitat (see this picture above). Thy also included tiny white flowers in the garden.
After they were all finished, I set up a display area for the rest of the student body to view my students' work. My students were also present to explain to the visitors about their habitats and to answer the other kids' questions. Later on, they also had to answer my questions as I interviewed each group about their project and group member participation. I wish I took more pictures but my camera battery was dying (sigh!). I let them take their habitats home. They had to develop their own roster systems for determining who gets to take it home for certain days.
To precede this activity, I let them practice sorting animals according to their respective habitats. You can download your free sorting mats here. You will also need plastic animals (or you can use small pictures of animals instead).