Home Sweet Home
This activity will introduce the habitat and the ecosystem. It has been based on original activities found in the Institute for Earth Education's programme "Sunship Earth", On the Street Where You Live concept activity,* and The Ecology Pack produced by Landlife.
*available from the Institute for Earth Education, see website: www.eartheducation.org.uk
OBJECTIVE: To understand that plants and animals are adapted to living in different habitats in order to meet their needs and that they each have a role (niche) in the community.
TIME: 1-2 hours
LOCATION: different sorts of woodland.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED: 1 set per group - At Work cards (mounted and laminated if possible); Home application form; Home Sweet Home information sheet.
Native woodlands are home to many different kinds of animals and plants and have a greater variety of species (and, therefore, biodiversity value) than most conifer plantations, especially young plantations (5-15 years old).
Nothing lives on its own. We call the collection of plants and animals living in one place a community. Wherever the plant and animal communities live, they have to be suited to the existing physical and biological conditions - the habitat.
The system within which plants and animals affect each other, is called an ecosystem. Scientists who study habitats and communities are called ecologists.
This activity focuses on the ways that plants and animals adapt their work and lifestyle to their habitat. Animals that compete for the same food and shelter share the same niche. However, it is possible for them to overcome this by coming out at different times of day like bats and birds, or by choosing to feed at different levels, so grey squirrels often feed on the ground as well as in trees.
- You are going to investigate the availability of jobs and homes for the woodland animals and plants you have found in the different areas of woodland. It is important for the animals to have a job where they live. Most animals and plants have more than one job.
- Split into pairs and distribute the 'At Work' signs, and accompanying information sheet, discussing each sign in turn, make sure you understand the job. Look for examples, or evidence of, animals or plants doing the different jobs. Put the right sign out where you find them.
- Take some housing application forms. Complete them for selected animals or plants you have found At Work.
- When everyone has finished, collect your At Work signs and then get together and share your findings. Discuss how you discovered the community of the woodland, made up of individual plants and animals, occupying different parts of the habitat and completing different jobs which they are well adapted to carry out.
- Discuss what would happen if the woodland was felled or planted over with conifers.
- Construct a 2D/ 3D representation of the woodland, identifying the different homes and inhabitants.
- Look at the different ways animals, plants and woodlands are protected for the future, particularly endangered species - ask someone from SNH to assist you.
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