K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education


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Related pages

  • Tuttle Education State Forest: This state forest has been developed for use as a living outdoor classroom for students and adults to learn about the interdependent ecosystems of the forest.
  • Jockey's Ridge State Park: Experience a world of the shifting sands and a barren, desert environment as well as an estuarine environment of the tidal waters of the Roanoke Sound at Jockey's Ridge State Park in Nags Head, North Carolina.
  • Eno River State Park: Students will learn about the plants and animals found in Eno River State Park as well as the importance of water quality and stewardship to their local watershed.

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • Search the outdoors for actual habitat locations. Using a digital camera, take pictures of the habitat and the resources it has for survival including its food, shelter, water and living space.
  • Use the developed pictures to submit documentation of the animal’s habitat.
  • Label the different elements that make up animal habitats.
  • Print out their photographs and display their data in an organized manner and present their findings.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

3 days


  • poster board
  • ecosystem poster or pictures

Technology resources

  • computer with monitor and printer
  • word processing program
  • digital camera


Students will need working knowledge of ecosystems and the components that make up an ecosystem. They must understand and be able to recognize an animal habitat. They must also have working knowledge of how to use a digital camera and computer.


  1. Teacher will display ecosystem poster or pictures to students. Ask them to identify any habitats they see. Ask students what makes up a habitat. (Shelter, water, food, space)
  2. Divide your class into groups of two or three.
  3. Give students the following directions:

    Your task is to become investigators of the animal world. You will be given a digital camera and I want you to search out an ecosystem. It can be any ecosystem you choose. Once you locate your ecosystem I want you to choose an animal that lives there and take a picture of its habitat. Document its food source, water source, shelter and living space.

    Once you have compiled your data you will print out your pictures and present them to the class. Your photographs must be labeled and identified. You may include photographs of any other information you feel is relevant.


  1. Students will have a document with pictures taken from digital camera—3 points.
  2. The photos will be presented in a neat, concise manner and they will be labeled and identified correctly—2 points.
  3. Students will need to include the following:
    • Identified animal—2 points
    • Animal’s habitat—2 points.
    • Food source— 2 points.
    • Water source—2 points.
    • Shelter—2 points.
    • Living space—2 points.
    • Other relevant information—3 pt.
  4. Label Ecosystem—bonus points at teacher’s discretion.

Final Rubric:

  • 20–18 points = A
  • 17–15 points = B
  • 14–12 points = C
  • 12–0 points = redo

Supplemental information

You may want to purchase or have donated disposal cameras if you don’t have enough digital cameras for your students. You will need to have the pictures developed and then scan them into the computer for your students.


One day my students and I were walking to the cafeteria and saw a huge spider web. There was a spider in it and a fly caught in the web. It was so cool and one of my students said, “Don’t you wish you had a camera?” I really did too, and an idea was born.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Information and Technology Skills (2010)
      • Grade 4

        • 4.TT.1 Use technology tools and skills to reinforce classroom concepts and activities. 4.TT.1.1 Use a variety of technology tools to gather data and information (e.g., Web-based resources, e-books, online communication tools, etc.). 4.TT.1.2 Use a variety...
      • Grade 5

        • 5.TT.1 Use technology tools and skills to reinforce and extend classroom concepts and activities. 5.TT.1.1 Use a variety of technology tools to gather data and information (e.g., Web-based resources, e-books, online communication tools, etc.). 5.TT.1.2 Use...

    • Science (2010)
      • Grade 4

        • 4.L.1 Understand the effects of environmental changes, adaptations and behaviors that enable animals (including humans) to survive in changing habitats. 4.L.1.1 Give examples of changes in an organism’s environment that are beneficial to it and some that...
      • Grade 5

        • 5.L.2 Understand the interdependence of plants and animals with their ecosystem. 5.L.2.1 Compare the characteristics of several common ecosystems, including estuaries and salt marshes, oceans, lakes and ponds, forests, and grasslands). 5.L.2.2 Classify the...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Computer Technology Skills (2005)

Grade 4

  • Goal 3: The learner will use a variety of technologies to access, analyze, interpret, synthesize, apply, and communicate information.
    • Objective 3.01: Select and use technology tools (e.g., probeware, digital camera, scanners) to collect, analyze, and display information for content assignments. Strand - Societal/Ethical Issues

Grade 5

  • Goal 2: The learner will demonstrate knowledge and skills in the use of computer and other technologies.
    • Objective 2.15: Select, discuss and evaluate digital resources and information for content, accuracy, usefulness and cite sources. Strand - Telecommunications/Internet

Science (2005)

Grade 4

  • Goal 1: The learner will make observations and conduct investigations to build an understanding of animal behavior and adaptation.
    • Objective 1.01: Observe and describe how all living and nonliving things affect the life of a particular animal including:
      • Other animals.
      • Plants.
      • Weather.
      • Climate.

Grade 5

  • Goal 1: The learner will conduct investigations to build an understanding of the interdependence of plants and animals.
    • Objective 1.01: Describe and compare several common ecosystems (communities of organisms and their interaction with the environment).