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Make a Miniature Habitat

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Grade Range
Group Size
3 students
Active Time
2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time
2 hours 30 minutes
Area of Science
Mammalian Biology
Key Concepts
Habitats, adaptation
Svenja Lohner, PhD, Science Buddies
miniature real-life habitat for an animal examples

miniature real-life habitat for an animal examples


Get creative with your students in this hands-on lesson plan! Students will use mostly natural materials to build a shoebox habitat that mimics a real-life habitat for an animal of their choice. As they present their miniature habitats to each other, students realize that not all habitats are suitable for all animals. Each animal species needs the resources of a specific habitat to survive.

Learning Objectives

NGSS Alignment

This lesson helps students prepare for these Next Generation Science Standards Performance Expectations:
This lesson focuses on these aspects of NGSS Three Dimensional Learning:

Science & Engineering Practices Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts
Science & Engineering Practices Developing and Using Models. Develop and/or use a model to represent amounts, relationships, relative scales (bigger, smaller), and/or patterns in the natural and designed world(s).

Analyzing and Interpreting Data. Use observations (firsthand or from media) to describe patterns and/or relationships in the natural and designed world(s) in order to answer scientific questions and solve problems.

Engaging in Argument from Evidence. Make a claim about the effectiveness of an object, tool, or solution that is supported by relevant evidence.
Disciplinary Core Ideas ESS3.A: Natural Resources. Living things need water, air, and resources from the land, and they live in places that have the things they need. Humans use natural resources for everything they do.

LS4.D: Biodiversity and Humans. There are many different kinds of living things in any area, and they exist in different places on land and in water.
Crosscutting Concepts Systems and System Models. Systems in the natural and designed world have parts that work together.


materials needed for miniature habitat lesson plan

materials needed for miniature habitat lesson plan

Background Information for Teachers

This section contains a quick review for teachers of the science and concepts covered in this lesson.

There are millions of different species (or groups of living organisms) on our planet. These include animals as well as plants. Some of these species, like us humans and many other mammals, like to live on land, others such as fish prefer to live in the water. Every species likes to settle in areas that provide access the resources they need. This particular environmental area is called a species' habitat. A habitat is the natural home of a specific animal or plant species. Animals or plant species live in a particular habitat because this environment provides them with everything they need to survive, grow, and reproduce such as food, water, air, and shelter for protection.

Habitats can be described using many factors. Some of these factors are of physical characteristics such as climate, soil type, amount of rainfall, light, etc. Other factors are biological and include the availability of food in form of plants or animals, as well as the presence or absence of predators. Different species have different habitat requirements. Whereas some plants or animals are generalists, which can easily adapt and live in a wide range of habitats, others are specialists, that can only thrive in one specific type of environment.

There are many different habitats around the world (Figure 1). Some examples are terrestrial habitats such as forests, grasslands, deserts or wetlands; freshwater habitats such as lakes, pond or rivers; marine habitats such as the oceans, reefs, and estuaries; or polar habitats in the polar regions.

Figure 1. Habitats differ around the world based on their physical and biological characteristics.

In this lesson, students will create their own miniature habitat for an animal of their choice based on their discussions on different habitat characteristics and some example pictures. The focus of this lesson is for students to use their creativity and science knowledge to make a special habitat where an animal can survive. The habitat should reflect a realistic habitat and it does need to show the essential elements that an animal needs. The following are some habitat elements that students should discuss and take into account when building their habitats.

  • Vegetation/plants (bare, lush, green, trees, bushes, grass etc.)
  • Type of ground (soil, sand, ice, rock, etc.)
  • Ground profile (flat, hilly, steep mountains, etc.)
  • Food source (fruits, vegetables, grass, trees, other animals etc.)
  • Water availability (ponds, rainfall etc.)
  • Shelter (rock crevasses, bushes, large trees, burrows, nests, etc.)
  • Animals that live in the same habitat
  • Other features (trees or rocks for climbing, water for swimming, etc.)
  • Color of things (brown/yellow/green grass, red/brown/yellow sand, etc.)
  • Whether each part of the habitat will be 2D (like a picture students draw), or 3D (an object)
  • Decoration or pictures for habitat (box) walls
  • Scale (realistic scale or miniature scale)

Prep Work (15 minutes)

Engage (30 minutes)

Explore (60 minutes)

Reflect (60 minutes)


Make Career Connections

Lesson Plan Variations

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