Exploring Environmental Change

Part I: Looking at Your Environment

1. Tell students that this lesson will look at some of the connections that can exist in an environment, and how changes to the environment can affect those connections. Begin by asking students to think about a familiar local environment. You might have them look specifically at the area in which the school is located, or a larger area with more features. If possible, have students walk around the schoolyard or look out of a window to make their observations. Ask students to take notes about everything they see, such as animals, plants, people, soil, water, climate, and human-built objects. You may also want to give students the Observing Your Environment Worksheet PDF Document so they can take notes while they observe or think about a specific environment.

2. Bring the class together to discuss what everyone noted about the environment. On a piece of chart paper, write down some of the students' key observations. Post the completed list in the classroom for reference.

3. Tell students that they will now consider how the plants, animals, and physical factors they observed in their environment are connected. Begin by looking at an example together as a class. On a new piece of chart paper, lead students to identify one connection between two things from their list of observations. You may want to draw a diagram to help students visualize the connection. For example, you could write "squirrel" on the right side of the paper and "tree" on the left, then draw a line between them. On the line, write "squirrel uses tree for shelter and food." Then pass out a poster board and set of markers to each group. Have students meet in their small groups to identify more connections that they observed in their environment. Each group should pick two items that are connected from their list of observations and describe that connection on a poster. They can draw a diagram or other picture to help explain the connection. When everyone is finished, have the groups display their posters around the room. Then ask students to take a quick walk around to see the connections that everyone else found.

4. Select one of the connections described on a poster, and lead the class in a discussion about what would happen if one of the two things that were connected were removed from the environment. How would that affect the other thing in the connection? What would happen to the rest of the environment?