The word “habitat” is misused more than just about any word I can think of. According to scientists, every living thing has its own unique habitat. So while a lion’s habitat is vast and is pretty much the same as the habitat of the other lions in its pride, a midge’s habitat might be no bigger than a few square feet of forest. To make that clear to young readers, you can use the following books:
A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle
Song of the Water Boatman by Joyce Sidman
The Raft by Jim LaMarche
Trout Are Made of Trees by April Pulley Sayre
Necks Out for Adventure by Timothy Basil Ering
Star of the Sea: A Day in the Life of a Starfish by Janet Halfmann
Mining the BookAfter reading the title poem in Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems, ask the class the following questions: Where is the water boatman’s habitat? (The bottom of the pond.) Where is the backswimmer’s habitat? (The top of the pond.)
Then ask: Can you find any clues in the text that explain why the two insects live in different parts of the pond? If students struggle to answer this question, break it down as follows:
· What does the text say the water boatman eats? (green goo)
· According to the text, where is that food found? (floating in the water)
· What does the text say the backswimmer eats? (wee beasties)
· According to the text, where is that food found? (on the water’s surface)
· Based on the answers to these questions, why do you think water boatmen and backswimmers live in different habitats? (They eat different foods, and they live in the part of the pond where they can get the food they need to survive)
Let your students know that, unlike a water boatman, a predacious diving beetle can find food in the air as well as in a pond. Then invite your students to write and illustrate an imaginative adventure story in which a predacious diving beetle moves to another habitat. How does it survive in its new home? What does it miss about living in the pond?
After reading A House for Hermit Crab, use Google Images to identify its habitat. (the sea floor) Then find photos of the ocean creatures mentioned on the final page of the book (sponges, barnacles, clown fish, sand dollars, electric eels). Encourage students to write a sequel to A House for Hermit Crab—a second story in which Hermit Crab travels along the sea floor in his new shell and meets these creatures. How could these new creatures help Hermit Crab?