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Local Habitat Survey and Animal Research

School: Hitchcock Center for the Environment

City/State: Amherst, MA

Grade(s): Pre-K

Format(s): Field guide: Natural science

Subject(s): Science and Technology, Visual Arts

Project Overview

This project is the result of an animal and animal habitat program at the Hitchcock Center for the Environment in Amherst Massachusetts.  During this program, students observed animals in the following habitats: garden, pond, river, wetland, soil, field, rotting log and forest.  Each child created a log of the weather conditions, soil conditions and a survey of the different types of animals in each location. 

Following their field observations, students selected one animal to investigate further.  They researched the physical adaptations that allow their animal to live in its habitat. 

To complete the project, each student created a drawing of their animal, which they refined through a process of peer critique.  They added color to their final drawings with watercolor paint.  Finally, they created a clay sculpture of their animal based on their drawings.  The completed book is a combination of the students’ research, drawings and sculpture. 

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • Highlights high-quality, accurate illustrations by pre-k students. See the Elm Borer for an example of careful attention to detail.
  • Highlights young students working on writing and drawing skills through multiple rounds of drafts and critique.
  • The process of completing fieldwork and surveys teaches students to observe closely.
  • The writing is simple, and nicely captures the perspective of young children while also providing accurate information.

Common Core State Standards

Standard Long Term Learning Target
  • I can teach my reader about a topic using pictures and words.
  • With support from adults, I can revise my writing by adding details.
  • With support from adults, I can answer questions about things I’ve done or learned about.
  • I can use grammar conventions to send a clear message to a reader or listener.
  • I can use conventions to send a clear message to my reader.
  • I can speak using words I hear in books.
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