We Explore Homes and Habitats

Students investigate where animals live and why they choose different environments to call home. They create a space for a visiting pet and its owner,  build a habitat for a toy animal, and create an indoor habitat for a minibeast (snails, worms, pillbugs, insects).

My Home is Better Than Yours! tells a story about animals making a case for why their home is best one for them. 

Lesson Plan Overview:

Flexible 10 lesson sequence: Timing of activities may depend on conditions (location, season, weather)

Activity 1: Sharing Our Ideas about the Needs of Animals
Children share their ideas about what some familiar and not so familiar pets need and how their owners take care of them. They are introduced to the idea that all animals have some needs that are the same (e.g., they all need to eat) but that different animals get their needs met in different ways (e.g., they eat different types of food). This activity also informs teachers about children’s current understanding of animals’ needs and how they get met.

Home Connection: The Home Activity invites families to talk with their children about some of the things that children need to grow healthy and strong. Children draw pictures of themselves and some of the things they need.

Activity 2: Hosting a Pet Visitor in the Classroom
Children investigate the needs of a specific pet by observing it and talking with its owner. In advance of the visit, they discuss what they know about this type of pet and generate questions to learn more. After the visit, they talk about what they learned and share their ideas about what pets need in order to live, grow, and be healthy. 

Home Connection: The Home Activity invites families to talk with their children about how families take care of them and help them get the things they need to grow healthy and strong. Children draw a picture of themselves with their family.

Activity 3: Looking for Places Where Outdoor Animals Live
Children are introduced to the idea that outdoor animals live in particular environments. Children explore outdoor areas, look for animals, and observe and draw the animals they find and the area(s) where they find them. Back in the classroom, they share their ideas about if and how the environments where they found animals are good places for those animals to live and why they think so.

Home Connection: The Home Activity invites families to help their children explore the places where they live and to talk with children about some of their favorite spaces at home. Children then draw themselves in their favorite spaces.

Activity 4: Making a Temporary Home for a Minibeast
Children go back outdoors to look for and observe minibeasts and the features of the areas where they find them. They create one to three temporary homes for minibeasts by replicating their outdoor environments and bring them back to the classroom to observe them more closely. Children share their ideas about if and how the homes they made are good places for the minibeasts to live. They then release the minibeasts back into their outdoor homes.

Home Connection: The Home Activity invites families to talk with their children about what they would take with them if they went to spend the night at a family member’s or friend’s home. Children then draw the items they would take. 

Activity 5: Reading about Animal Homes
Children listen to the story My Home Is Better Than Yours by Stephen Krensky. They use information from the story to generate ideas about how animal homes can meet a range of needs, including shelter from the elements, safety from predators, a place to raise their young, and a spot close to food and water. Children are introduced to the idea that each animal has a home that is the best home for that animal.

Home Connection: The Home Activity invites families to help their children write short stories or draw pictures of their own homes.

Activity 6: Making a Classroom Book about Animal Homes 
Children write and illustrate a classroom book of animals and their homes. They think and talk about how different kinds of homes meet the needs of different animals.

Home Connection: The Home Activity invites families to talk with their children about their own homes and how their own homes are the best homes for them. Children draw pictures of themselves doing favorite home activities.

Activity 7: Creating Animal Habitats
Children are introduced to the concept of a habitat as the place where an animal lives and makes its home. They create their own habitats for toy animals using cardboard trays and natural materials they find outdoors. They then share how they made their habitats and why they are good places for their animals to live.

Home Connection: The Home Activity invites families to talk with their children about the places their families go to spend time together in their community. Children then draw pictures of their favorite place to go with their family.

Activity 8: Creating an Indoor Snail Habitat 
Children reflect on the needs of snails based on their previous outdoor observations and participate in an interactive reading of a snail story. They make a list of materials to collect for a snail habitat and head outdoors to collect the items and assemble the habitat. They observe the snails in their new home and share their ideas about what makes the habitat a good place for snails to live.

Home Connection: The Home Activity invites families to talk with their children about what kind of homes they would set up for toy animals. Children draw pictures of the homes they would make and what they would put inside them that the animals need.

Activity 9: Enriching Outdoor Habitats for Animals
Children generate ideas about how they might enrich the outdoor environment for animals that live around the school. They make one to three different types of birdfeeders and place them in locations that are accessible to birds. They generate ideas about how adding the birdfeeders will change the birds’ habitat and attract more birds.

Home Connection: The Home Activity invites families to talk with their children about the birdfeeders they made at school. Children ask family members to go outdoors with them and look and listen for birds around their home. They draw pictures of the birds they observed and where they observed them.

Activity 10: Mapping the Outdoor Environment
Children are introduced to maps and contribute to creating a map of the outdoor environment, showing landmarks and identifying the places where they found animals. Back indoors they reflect on their learning during We Explore Homes and Habitats and describe their favorite activities. 

Home Connection: The Home Activity invites families to help their children draw maps of their bedrooms or other rooms in their homes. 

Kit Materials

This kit provides materials for class size of 24 students.

Items to collect to support the exploration. Most are standard preschool materials.

Provided in Classroom Kit



Magnifying Glasses


Chart paper and markers

Small Shovels


Drawing and writing materials, including markers, crayons, and/or colored pencils in the wide variety of colors available in nature

Large Craft Sticks


Glue and/or tape

Plastic Bug Boxes


Safety scissors

Small Spray Bottles


Bug jar (For teacher)

Small Plastic Terrariums 


Construction paper

Medium Terrarium 


Photos of pets; pet-related items

Large Paper Plates


Small cups or bowls

Colored Dot Sheets


Optional: Clipboards for drawing outdoors (may be teacher-made with heavy cardboard and elastic to hold paper in place)

Small Toy Animals set (Safe for children 3yrs+)


Optional for birdfeeders: Plastic knive, pine cones, peanut butter, shortening, oat rings cereal, birdseed, bagels

Heavy String



Poster: Minibeast chart 



Pipe Cleaners/Chenille Sticks, assorted colors



Small bag of birdseed



All 4 AWIM PreK children's books



Downloadable Curriculum and Supporting Files


The following books all have connections to activities in the We Explore Homes and Habitats exploration:


Animals at Home by David Lock
Lizard’s Song by George Shannon
My Very First Book of Animal Homes by Eric Carle
Bats at Home by Stephen Krensky

25 Birds Every Child Should Know by Jim Arnosky
About Birds: A Guide for Children by Cathryn and John Sill
Birds, Nests, and Eggs by Mel Boring
Little Green by Keith Baker
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
Peterson First Guide to Birds of North America by Roger Tory Peterson
Riki’s Birdhouse by Monica Wellington
The Birdwatchers by Simon James
Two Blue Jays by Anne Rockwell and Megan Halsey

Crinkleroot’s Guide to Knowing Animal Habitats by Jim Arnofsky 
I Took a Walk by Henry Cole 
In the Small, Small Pond by Denise Fleming
In the Tall, Tall Grass by Denise Fleming 
Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
On the Way to the Beach by Henry Cole
The Salamander Room by Anne Mazer
Welcome Home, Bear: A Book of Animal Habitats by Il Sung Na

Henry’s Map by David Elliot
Mapping Penny’s World by Loreen Leedy 
Me on the Map by Joan Sweeney

A Ladybug’s Life by John Himmelman
A Pill Bug’s Life by John Himmelman
Big Book of Bugs by DK Publishing
Bugs, Bugs, Bugs! by Bob Barner
Insect (Eyewitness Books) by Laurence Mound
Mad About Minibeasts by Giles Andreae
Next Time You See a Pill Bug by Emily Morgan
Pill Bugs by Monica Hughes
Spiders by Gail Gibbons
The Best Book of Bugs by Claire Llewellyn
The Big Book of Bugs by DK Publishing
Wonderful Worms by Linda Glaser

Bread, Bread, Bread by Ann Morris
Chicks and Salsa by Aaron Reynolds
Houses and Homes by Ann Morris 
In Our House by Anne Rockwell
Same, Same But Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw

Everything Dog: What Kids Really Want to Know About Dogs by Marty Crisp
Great Pets! An Extraordinary Guide to Usual and Unusual Family Pets by Sara Stein 
Let’s Read About Pets series:
Birds by Helen Frost 
Cats by Helen Frost 
Dogs by Helen Frost 
Fish by Helen Frost 
Guinea Pigs by Martha Rustad 
Hamsters by Helen Frost
Rabbits by Helen Frost 
Turtles by Martha Rustad
My Pet Tree, Albert by Stephen Krensky

Are You a Snail? by Judy Allen and Tudor Humphries
Snail Trail by Ruth Brown
Snails by Raintree Sprouts
The Snail’s Spell by Joanne Ryder

Digital Resources


Science Notes for Teachers: Types of Animals:
NatGeo Kids site “Insects”
Pacific Northwest National Library: What about Pillbugs?
Snail World’s Garden Snail
National Geographic Earthworm

Science Notes for Teachers: Snails:
Snail World’s Garden Snail website
Wizz, Snails for Kids

Science Notes for Teachers: Animal Homes:
Animal Homes
Hollow logs
Dead trees
Underwater lodges

Activity 1


Extension Activities: STEM: Viewing Animals' Daily Routines:
What Do Animals Eat?
The Late Movies: Animals Drinking in Slow Motion
Assorted animal videos from National Geographic Kids

Extension Activities: Language/Literature: Book-Browsing:
Make Way for Ducklings Read-aloud

Connection Activities: Performing Arts: Sing Animal Needs Songs:
Five Green and Speckled Frogs

Activity 2

Step 3: Videos of pet care:
Video: * DOGS * | Animals For Kids | All Things Animal TV by All Things Animal TV (2:20)
Video: How to Care for Your New Cat (PETCO) by Petco (2:30)
Video: How to TAKE CARE of a PUPPY:Complete Guide to Puppy Care by AnimalWised (5:09)

Activity 3

Materials: Teacher Tip:
In the Tall, Tall Grass by Denise Fleming
In the Small, Small Pond by Denise Fleming
Underground by Denise Fleming
I Took a Walk, Henry Cole

Extension Activities:
Science: Researching Animals
Online Field Guides

Activity 4

Overview: Teacher Tip:
Minibeast info

Step 14 Teacher Tip:
Bug habitat videos:
DIY Bug Habitat
Making a Habitat for Bugs

Extension Activities: Science:
Observing Insects Indoors

Extension Activities: Language/Literacy:
Book Browsing
Bug Homes by Anna Milbourne Read-Aloud

Connection Activities: Performing Arts:
Singing about Minibeasts

Activity 5

Extension Activities: Book-Browsing:
Read-aloud: Houses and Homes by Ann Morris

Activity 6

Materials: Teacher Tip:
High Quality Animal Images
Kid's Search Animal Images
National Geographic

Extension Activities: STEM: Observing Animals in Their Homes:
Squirrels and owls

Activity 7

Step 1:
Welcome Home, Bear (HMH) by Il Sung Na

Extension Activities: Performing Arts: Singing about Homes and Habitats:
Song Animal Habitats

Activity 8

Overview: Teacher Tip:
Finding and Catching Snails
Snails and slugs terrariums
Earthworms and/or pillbugs terrariums

Extension Activities: STEM: Observing and Designing Habitats:
Virtual Field Trip: Zoo Experiences Around the Country

Extension Activities: STEM: Setting Up Terrariums for Other Minibeasts:
Snails and slugs
Earthworms and/or Pillbugs

Extension Activities: STEM: Language/Literacy: Reading about a Salamander Habitat
The Salamander Room by Anne Mazer Read-aloud

Connection Activities, Physical Health and Development: Eating Healthy Snail Snacks:
New York Cares Cooking Programs, Apple, Peanut Butter, Celery Snails

Activity 9

Materials: Teacher Tip:
Cookie cutter

Photos of local birds

Extension Activities: Science: Enriching the Outdoor Environment for Birds:
Pinecone nesting mobile

Connection Activities: STEM: Observing Bird Nests Through a Webcam:
EarthCam, Falcon Cam
Cornell Bird Cams

Activity 10

Overview: Teacher Tip:
Read-aloud: Me on the Map by Joan Sweeney

Extension Activitiees: Science: Looking at Digital Maps
Google Maps
Earth Explorer