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Environmental Kids Activity: Habitat Passport



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Environmental Kids Activity: Habitat Passport



 

Environmental Kids Activity: Habitat Passport

Animals and plants live in many different types of habitats and develop features and skills needed for survival in these different environments.

Here's a fun little Habitat Song to get you enthusiastic, before we get on with this project!





The idea of this activity is to visit as many different types of habitats as you can, record what you find there in various ways and get your 'passport' stamped.

Think about the variation of habitats where you live.  Make a list of all those you can think of that you could travel to relatively easily.  You may like to just stick to those in the city/area where you live and make day trips, or if your family is planning a holiday soon you could include the habitats you will visit on that trip.  You could list as many habitats as you can possibly think of and keep using the passport over an extended period of time, getting your stamps as you visit.

Some of the habitats you might be able to visit include:

  • Your own garden
  • Different public parks
  • Beaches/dunes
  • River
  • Creek- seasonal?  Perennial?
  • Spring
  • Lake
  • Dam
  • Open woodland
  • Dense forest
  • Planted forestry forest
  • Desert
  • Rocky
  • Mountains
  • Alpine regions
  • Open natural grasslands
  • Farm fields
  • Rainforest- temperate or tropical



Before you visit a habitat, do some research as to what you might find there.  What plants may grow in the area?  Animals, birds, insects, reptiles, amphibians?  What features does the habitat have that may attract these particular types of plants and animals?  What characteristics do they have that enable them to thrive there?  What kinds of plants and animals can you think of that would NOT be happy there, or even able to survive?

Create your own Habitat Passport out of paper, with a page each for the different habitats you decide on printed or written on it.  Leave room for your stamp and either some space here for anything you want to record, or have a separate notebook for your records.  Buy a stamp that you think is appropriate... maybe one with an animal on.  You could even buy several, maybe in a set, so you can use different ones for different habitats visited.  And don't forget your stamp pad for inking the stamps.


Record anything you find in the habitat, such as:

  • Lots of photos- can be very useful if you can't identify something you find on the spot
  • List of plants
  • List of animals, birds, insects, reptiles, amphibians
  • Description of the features of the habitat
  • Bark rubbings
  • Plaster casts of footprints



You could even visit each habitat seasonally to see what changes at different times of the year. 


How does the habitat and what is present, appear different?  

  • What new plants or animals are present?  What are missing?
  • Are there any baby birds or animals?
  • Is water still present/flowing?
  • Are there tadpoles, frog spawn or frogs?
  • Is there snow or ice?
  • Have trees lost their leaves?
  • Is there moss growing?
  • Have new baby trees or plants sprouted?
  • Are their fruits, seeds, fungi?
  • Is there fresh grass, dry grass, no grass?
  • Are there more fallen logs?  Have termites moved in?
  • Are there new ant hills?



Once again, take lots of comparison photos and record your findings.  With this excellent record, you could even continue this for a few years, noting any changes that seem to be different from a previous year at the same time. 


Look out for things such as:

  • Die-off of a certain plant or tree... or of all of them
  • A mass enthusiastic growth of a particular plant, especially a weed plant
  • Not as much water every present in a creek or dam  
  • No frogs or tadpoles in a waterhole that usually is brimming with life
  • Dragonflies no longer present  
  • No bees visiting the flowers  
  • Hardly any baby birds this year
  • A large number of a certain bird or animal



Try to figure out what may have caused it:

  • Has civilisation encroached closer?
  • Are more people visiting the area?
  • Has traffic increased, or traffic noise levels (i.e. lots of noisy trucks passing)
  • Is there a new factory or other environmental pollution possibly happening?
  • Is the creek or river clogged up with silt or garbage?
  • Is there lots of litter or other stuff dumped?
  • Has the land been cleared?
  • Has there been a bushfire?



If you find things that seem environmentally detrimental or cause you worry, why not take your findings to one of the environmental groups in your area... or even a local politician or councillor.  Maybe they can even help you start or join a project to counteract what is happening e.g. by planting new plants, clearing away litter, monitoring, removing weeds.

Want to do more?

Why not turn your own backyard into a welcoming habitat for creatures in your area?  By planting the right plants, providing water and using materials such as logs and rocks to create creature homes, you can attract much wildlife to your garden, such as birds, reptiles, bees, butterflies, other insects etc.  Maybe even possums, kangaroos, koalas and other furry critters, if you live in the right areas.  Do be cautious however if you have outdoor cats or dogs that could harm the wildlife.  Make sure there is plenty of cover and hidey-holes for them and that food and water sources are placed so cats and dogs can't easily reach them.

Here's a great video on planting to attract small Australian birds to your garden from the Birds in Back Yards program.
http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/

 

Another habitat project you could do is to look at your own habitat. 

  • What kind of things do you need in your own habitat to thrive and be comfortable?
  • What might happen if you didn't have them?
  • Which of the things you have in your own habitat are necessary to your survival and which could you do without?
  • What other kind of habitats do people live in around the world and how do they differ to yours?
  • Do you think you could adapt and happily live in one of these different habitats?
  • Which ones do you think you would enjoy and which would you prefer not to live in?

Give yourself a stamp for visiting your own habitat.  :)


Good luck with your Habitat Passport project... and happy travels!






 


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