Habitats Past and Present

3, 4, 5

Students conduct Internet research to gain a better understanding of the changes that have occurred in the environment and animal habitats since the 1700s.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Fifty-Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • describe the habitats that have evolved since the 1700s.
  • compare and contrast how animals coexist with humans today and in the past.
  • observe industrial changes and how they affect animal life.
  • conduct an inquiry using technology.
  • Computer access to Internet
  • Student copies of  Internet Investigations
  • Student copies of Venn Diagram
  • Teacher copy of Teacher Observation Log

National Geographic http://www.nationalgeographic.com 
National Wildlife Federation http://www.nwf.org/ 


  1. Anticipatory Set:Review Lesson One: Exploring the Neighborhood – Literature Jigsaw. “As we continue our search of city wildlife, let’s quickly review what we learned in our literature circles. Who can name a wild animal that coexists with humans in urban areas? (Record responses on blackboard) What are some of the problems both humans and animals encounter living within the same community? (List on board)”

  2. In order to fully understand how animals (humans and wildlife) adapt to the environment, we should look into the past. Ask the students to propose why that is necessary and what we should look for. (Allow a few minutes for responses and discussion.) Studying history enables us see what life and the environment were like long ago. This gives us insight about the changes that took place and the reasons why the environment changed, which in turn affected the lives of both humans and animals. Using laptops (or the computer lab), challenge the students to do a Web search to compare and contrast animal habitats in relation to people from 1700 to the present.

  3. Distribute the two handouts and assign partners so students can take turns operating the computer and recording information. If necessary, guide students in the operation of logging on and gaining Internet access.

  4. Direct the students to look first at how animals and people coexisted in the 1700s. Have them compare at the relationships of Native Americans and colonists with the animals of the time. Encourage them to search for info on the 1800s and 1900s—taking note of the changes. The websites and keywords on Attachment One: Internet Investigations will guide students. When they have gathered information and recorded notes, the partners complete the Venn diagram comparing past and present relationships with animals in the wild (Attachment Two: Venn Diagram).


Use Attachment Three: Teacher Observation Log to monitor student work on the Internet research. Put the assessment on a clipboard and write comments as you observe the students. Use the class created Venn diagram as evidence of understanding, as well as responses on Attachment One: Internet Investigation.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark E.3 Describe a benefit of group cooperation.
    2. Standard PCS 06. Philanthropy in History
      1. Benchmark E.4 Describe an early example of philanthropy practiced in the indigenous culture.