Third grade students were learning about animal adaptations. We began by learning how animals have specific physical features that help them with survival. We learned this through discussion but also the book series What if you had by Sandra Markle.
Next, students used this website by New York Zoos and Aquariums to build a hybrid animal. Students also wrote and typed about each feature of their animal and how it would help them in their natural habitat. For example, one student wrote "Seal ears- First for hearing well every to spy on my prey. Last is to keep my ears warm in freezing conditions."
The final step was for students to create a habitat for their imagined hybrid animal. Their habitat had to meet the needs of their animal and many students had a difficult time deciding between environments due to the mixed features of their animal. We agreed that not every feature may make sense in their habitat (an example was a student who had an animal that had all features for warm temperatures except for polar bear ears, so they went with a warm climate anyway), but they needed to be able to justify why they selected the habitat they did. Students made really amazing dioramas. None of my students had ever made one before! They were so excited! They all brought in shoe boxes and used as many recycled materials as we could gather. I think they turned out really great!