Wildlife Conservation Habitat Lap Sit
- The students will be able to identify the components of habitat.
- The students will be able to recognize how humans and other animals depend upon habitat.
- The students will be able to interpret the significance of loss or change in habitat in terms of people and wildlife.
Suggested Grade Level: Grades 1-4
People and other animals share some basic needs. Every animal needs a place in which to live. The environment in which an animal lives is called "habitat." An animal's habitat includes food, water, shelter, and adequate space in an arrangement appropriate to the animal's needs. If any of these components of habitat are missing or are affected significantly so that the arrangement for the individual animal or population of animals is no longer suitable, there will be an impact. The impact will not necessarily be catastrophic, but can be. There are a great many additional limiting factors beyond those of suitable food, water, shelter, and space. For example, disease, predation, pollution, accidents, and climatic conditions are among other factors that can have an impact.
All things are interrelated. When we look at a biological community, we find interrelationships and interdependencies between plants and plants, plants and animals, as well as animals and animals. These interrelationships and interdependencies are important.
The major purpose of this activity is for students to become familiar with the components of habitat, and to recognize that it is not sufficient for there to be food, water, shelter, and space in order for animals to survive - those components of habitat must be in a suitable arrangement.
What This Has To Do With Navigation and Dredging:
Everything that we do changes our environment in some way. The change may be minor or significant, beneficial or harmful. Dredging and dredged material disposal have the potential to make big changes in habitats, at least temporarily. Biologists study the relationships between habitats, recovery processes after habitat changes, and how ships, dredges, and disposal activities affect the environment. With this knowledge, project work can be planned in such a way to avoid unnecessary impacts, minimize or repair unavoidable impacts, and take advantage of opportunities to enhance or restore habitats damaged by past activities.
- Ask the students to number off from "1" to "4." Have the "1's" go to one corner of the room, the "2's" to another, etc.
- As the students move to their corners, clear a space in the center of the room. Better still, go outside to a clear, grassy area. The "1's" should sit or stand together, "2's" together, etc.
- Assign each group a concept as follows: "1's" = food, "2's" = water, "3's" = shelter, "4's" = space.
- Now, it's time to form a circle! This is done by building the circle in chains of food, water, shelter, and space. A student from each of the four groups walks toward the cleared area. The four students stand next to each other, facing in toward what will be the center of the circle. Four more students - one from each group - join the circle. Keep adding to the circle in sets of four until all the students are in the circle.
- All students should now be standing shoulder to shoulder, facing the center of the circle.
- Ask the students to turn toward their right, at the same time taking one step toward the center of the circle. They should be standing close together, with each student looking at the back of the head of the student in front of him or her.
- Don't panic - this will work! Ask everyone to listen carefully. Everyone should place their hands on the waist of the person in front of them. At the count of three, you want the students to sit down ... on the knees of the person behind them, keeping their own knees together to support the person in front of them. You then say, "Food, water, shelter, and space - in the proper arrangement (represented by the students' intact, "lap-sit" circle) - are what is needed to have a good habitat.
- The students at this point may either fall or sit down. When their laughter has subsided, talk with them about the necessary components of suitable habitat for people and wildlife.
- After the students understand the major point - that food, water, shelter, and space are necessary for any animal's survival, and in their appropriate arrangement comprise a suitable habitat - let the students try the circle activity again! This time ask them to hold their lap-sit posture. As the students lap-sit - still representing food, water, shelter, and space in their appropriate arrangement - identify a student who represents "water." Then say, "It is a drought year. The water supply is reduced by the drought conditions." At this point, have the student who was identified as representing "water" remove himself or herself from the lap-sit circle - and watch the circle collapse, or at least suffer some disruption in arrangement. You could try this in several ways - removing one or more students from the circle. Conditions could vary: pollution of water supply, urban sprawl limiting availability of all components, soil erosion impacting food and water supplies, etc. Since animals' habitat needs depend upon food, water, shelter, and space, in their appropriate arrangement, "removal" of any will have an impact.
- Ask the students to talk about what this activity means to them. Ask the students to summarize the main ideas they have learned. They could include: a) food, water, shelter, and space, in their appropriate arrangement(can be called habitat); b) humans and other animals depend upon habitat; c) loss of any of these elements of habitat will have an impact on the animals living there; and d) the components of habitat must be in an arrangement suitable to the needs of the individual animals or populations of animals in order for the animals to survive.
Adapted from: "Stop, Look and Learn About Our Natural World, Vol. 2," Nebraska Natural Resources Elementary Education Guide.
Webdate: April 23, 2002
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