Exploring habitats with the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History
Massachusetts State science curriculum standards for kindergarten focus on habitats, life cycles, and those elements that cause one species (animal or man) to impact a different species. Cape Cod is a region that offers unique opportunities to investigate multiple habitats and the creatures that they support. This unit is divided into three distinct but connected phases.
In the classroom we can pre-teach, beginning with lessons that help students to define the term “habitat”. Where do people live? What are their dwellings/surroundings like? How does weather impact their lives? What does their environment offer that helps them to survive? This is followed with lessons that help students to use prior knowledge/understandings to label a variety of different habitats, the creatures that inhabit them and reasons why those creatures are best suited to the places that they live. When a basic understanding has been established we will introduce the habitats found here on Cape Cod, providing information about the species living within them. Over time students will learn in detail about the meadow, forest, marsh and ocean, learning to recognize and label their characteristics and beginning to understand how an animal's physical attributes make them better suited to one habitat rather than another.
The second phase invites students to visit the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History. Here they will begin by taking a guided field walk, going through small but clearly defined sections of a meadow, forest, and a marsh before ultimately reaching the ocean. When they return to the museum they will explore all that it has to offer. Students will be given the freedom to explore freely when guided to exhibits that allow them the chance to experience first-hand a honeybee hive, turtles found in the saltmarsh, creatures of the tidal pool and the bones of whales that migrate through local waters.
The final phase of this unit will occur when students return to the classroom. Here they will begin to consider how each of these habitats and the creatures living in them are impacted by humans/human activity. Applying information gathered in lessons prior to and during their field trip students will be asked to work collaboratively to teach others about how their actions (positive and negative) can have a lasting impact.