Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Draw that Habitat!

I love resources that provide enough material to allow for repetition of activities- our kids benefit not only from trying things more than once but also from generalizing to other contexts.  When a topic is real-life and relatable to curriculum, even better! Take the topic of animal habitats- how "Speechie" is it? Well, habitats can be described in detail, visualized, have different categories of animals living in them, experience cycles/sequences based on weather and climate, and of course the relationship between animals and habitats is linked to cause and effect and conditional language (if something changed in the habitat, then...)

Take a look at PBS Kids' Go's Draw that Habitat! This resource is linked to the PBS Kids Fetch series, which incidentally has an amazing free app that uses augmented reality to target counting and addition skills. Draw that Habitat! challenges kids to create a habitat for an imaginary animal for whom a few targeted characteristics are provided:

Draw that Habitat! has its own art pad (which is Flash-based, so non-iPad friendly) for kids to draw the picture and submit after you create an account.  Submitting provides the extra rationale of "publishing" one's work, often powerfully motivating, but you will probably have to set realistic expectations about work being recognized by the site (I have no idea how many submissions they get).

The other aspect of Draw that Habitat that makes this a great Project-Based or Theme-Based Learning kind of site is that previous months' animals and habitats are featured on the Gallery page.  This provides a great resource to set the context and provide examples for students.  You can use the examples for picture description activities, read the rationales for why the examples were chosen for the animal, and even have the kids evaluate and "rate" the submitted drawings.  So many language opportunities! You could also use previous animal descriptions (the "About this Animal") for additional practice in constructing habitats.  

Although you cannot use the site's art pad and submit for previous months' animals, this is a good place to use traditional drawing materials or an app such as Doodle Buddy.

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