Homes and houses
We all need a place to live. As humans we need homes in which to take shelter; where we can feel safe and secure, whatever the environmental conditions, threats and dangers that exist outside the walls of our homes. Other animals needs homes too and often have very different requirements from us. This list highlights resources linked to homes and houses that might be explored with young learners. This list consists of lesson plans, activities and ideas to support the teaching of science through the topic of homes and houses. It contains ideas for how to link science to the topic, tips on using the resources, suggestions for further use and background subject knowledge to support teachers in delivering the science objectives through this topic. Resources support the teaching of the properties and uses of materials, identifying animals and habitats. This enables teachers to choose which aspect of science they would like to teach within the overarching topic.
Visit the primary resources for cross curricular topics webpage to access all resource lists:
Links and Resources
This beautifully illustrated children's book encourages children to explore habitats around them; to be 'nature detectives' and discover who makes their home where (pages 2 and 4). Ensure, where possible, that children visit and revisit habitats and micro-habitats around and about the school grounds on a regular basis throughout the year. Identify a selection of habitats - animal 'homes' - in advance and find out for yourself just what exists and where. It's amazing how, even in a limited area, there are contrasting areas to be found or created. Find a forgotten corner and create a log pile, bug hotel, or compost heap. Create planting that attracts flying insects, especially bees and butterflies. Don't be too tidy; allow nettles and 'weeds' to grow on an area of border, again attracting a wealth of insects and insect eating animals, including birds and hedgehogs.
How do animals protect themselves? is a simple poem that describes how a frog is camouflaged to avoid its predators having an easy meal (page 22). Use this as a starting point to discuss what other animals use camouflage to protect themselves from becoming someone else's dinner? Children might group and classify animals that are hard to find and see and that blend into the habitats where they live and contrast these with brightly coloured, showy animals that everyone can see. Birds and minibeasts would provide a good focus for investigation here.
How Peter saved his town (page 22 onwards). is a traditional tale from long ago about Peter, a boy growing up in Haarlem in the Netherlands. The story goes that Peter found a breech in the sea wall (dyke) and had to take steps to block the hole and save his town. Children might experiment themselves, by building a variety of sea walls to hold back a flood or blocking holes in an existing wall using a variety of different materials and fixings.
A great question to promote discussion is, 'Why do birds make nests?' This could lead into children talking about different nests that they have seen and where they have seen them. Different species of birds build different types of nests, in which they lay their eggs and rear their young. Some nests are very simple constructions, while others are much more complicated. They might take the form of a traditional 'picture book' nest, but some birds live in holes (Blue Tits and Tawny owls), in tunnels (Kingfishers and Sand Martins, on rocky cliff ledges (Peregrine falcon and Guillemots) and even on or around buildings (Housemartins, Starlings, Pigeons and Barn owls). Some birds, like the Emperor penguin, don't make nests at all; a single egg is laid by the female and is then nestled against the male parent's brood patch and balanced on his feet, to keep the egg from freezing on the ice.
Children might investigate building nests of their own using a variety of materials. The teachers' guide gives ideas about how to support the children in doing this. Their challenge is to create a structure, using limited materials, that will protect the 'eggs', stay firm enough to support a 'parent bird' and keep the nest safe from predators down below . They might also research, compare and group materials used by different birds to build their nests. They could consider questions such as: How do the birds make their nests comfortable for parent and chicks? How do they protect the eggs from cold and wet? and How do they make them strong to withstand winds and bad weather?
Watery habitats are less common around school grounds than they were at one time. Children should be given the opportunity to pond dip (activity 2) and learn more about the variety of animal life to be found in a healthy pond. It's more than possible to create on a small scale a pond that will, given time, attract a variety of life (activity 1). Encourage children to use simple identifiers (a variety are available on the web, e.g. from the Field Study Council or Woodland Trust) to begin to identify the creatures they discover that prefer to live, at least for part of the time, in a watery habitat.
Many animals protect themselves from the harshness of winter, hibernating the coldest of weather away. Children should be given opportunities to create hide-aways for animals around the school grounds and the third activity in this pack shows how this might be done for toads - with adult help. Children might discuss: Why do some animals hibernate, while others do not? Which other animals hibernate? Where do they sleep the winter away? Which materials do they use to protect themselves and keep warm?
This activity helps children to see that there are different kinds of invertebrates in the environment which have different habitat requirements. It needs to be run outside the classroom when visiting a wildlife area. When looking at different habitats, children can find and identify invertebrates using the species guide provided. The resource includes recording sheets where children can collect and record their data, for later interpretation back in the classroom. Children might discuss: What different types of 'home' do minibeasts prefer? How does a slug-friendly home compare to that of an ant? What about an earthworm and a lacewing's home? Which minibeasts prefer dark, damp places for their homes? Which minibeasts prefer hot sunny places?
This resource contains two traditional fairy tales that have been given an environmental twist. Cinderella must go to the ball with the smallest carbon footprint she can and the Three Little Pigs choose different materials to build their houses: concrete, wood and hemp. Read the stories to see how well they do. Rich with references to the special properties of a variety of materials, children might be given access to some of the materials mentioned and consider their potential for creating a ball gown for Cinderella, a vehicle for her to travel in or a palace in which she could live happily ever-after. Equally, they might find out more about the materials the Three Little Pigs choose to use, how useful they might be to build their houses, both the positive advantages and the disadvantages of each.
This resource provides a practical context to explore the uses of everyday materials, based on their properties. Children are introduced to a problem of building a flood- proof home, which is faced by families in local communities in Bangladesh, looking at solutions that have been developed to solve this problem. This leads into an investigation in which children devise different types of enquiries to find out if a local material, straw, is the best material to use or if a different material would be better.
It is a good idea to begin by familiarising children with building materials that are to be seen in your locality. You could even create a (safe) building site role play area, complete with hard hats, high visibility jackets, tools and materials that can be used for mock construction activity!
Take a walk around the local area. Ask: What materials are roofs of buildings made from? What can we see that might give us a clue? Invite a builder, surveyor, knowledgeable relative or similar in to the classroom to show children a variety of building materials and give them hands-on experience of some of the materials they might have spotted on their materials hunt. Then move on to discuss the story featured on the ppt slides. Ask: What does a new home for Mehrab and his family need to have? What should the roof be made of? This can lead into an activity where children test a variety of materials to see whether they would offer protection, stand up to high winds and withstand heavy rainfall.
Why are bees so important? This resource contains lots of brilliant activities that reinforce why it's crucial that we look after our bees.
The bee survey on page 3 is a good place and it helps children become more familiar with spotting different types of bee. Encourage children to create a variety of giant bees for a classroom wall display, featuring correct shapes (of bee), colouration and markings and label them with the appropriate names. Add some flowers that might provide the bee colony with the food they need and you've created a home for a thriving community. How can you make your (school) garden bee friendly? (page 13) gives lists of plants and planting tips for creating a bee-friendly habitat somewhere in the school grounds.
For more information, explore the website of the Bumblebee Trust too.
Aimed at primary level, the activities within this pack demonstrate key ideas and concepts used in designing and constructing buildings such as: how levers and pulleys work, the properties of materials and the forces involved in different structures. Activities include: making a lever to lift a grown up, making plastic from milk, building bridges and making a tower out of spaghetti. Designed to demonstrate key ideas and concepts and to spark an interest in science and engineering, they could be used in class or within a science week or club. Teachers' notes are provided within the pack and include concise summaries of the science involved in the investigations.
In 'Spaghetti Challenge' children explore the best way to construct a simple tower, using spaghetti lengths and marshmallows (plastic straws and soft gum sweets) provide a more robust alternative). They consider how the tallest towers are constructed in the real world; look at and compare examples pictured - and others. What materials are used to make sky scrapers? What makes them strong enough to withstand high winds and storms? How long does it take these buildings to be constructed? Children might create their own structures out of rolled paper, card and other junk modelling materials, always seeking to create the most stable and tallest structure they possibly can.