Every student loves to explore a pond, or at least is fascinated to some degree by the creatures that live there. The goal of this unit is to encourage excitement and respect for aquatic habitats and the life which occurs in them. This will be accomplished by visiting several different aquatic sites and through the collection, identification, and discussion of various aquatic organisms.
This unit is specifically designed to address appropriate
AAAS Project 2061 benchmarks as well as first grade
Minnesota Academic proposed Science Standards22.214.171.124.1 and 126.96.36.199.2.
Before your visit, please review with your students:
- What makes an "aquatic habitat."
- Aquatic habitats found at River Bend and around the world.
- Some of the animals and plants that live in aquatic habitats.
- Behavior expectations during the visit.
At River Bend:
- During the introduction we will review the above material.
- We will divide each class in half (maximum of 4 groups; assuming normal size classes, classes of less than 15 will likely not be divided).
- Each group will visit several of River Bend's aquatic habitats to observe wildlife, scoop for critters, discover other signs of animals, and learn why they live in those habitats.
- To encourage discovery and interest, students will be given significant freedom to free-explore, as conditions and behaviors permit, under the guidance of a naturalist.
In closing we will:
- Inquire about discoveries at the ponds.
- Instill in the students the importance of aquatic habitats in nature.
- Discuss the importance of freshwater habitats to people.
- Talk of upcoming events at River Bend.
- Invite the students to return on their own with family and friends.
Back in the classroom:
- Create some form of art, such as a diorama or wall mural, depicting an aquatic habitat. Have the student enhance the habitat and create critters to "live" there.
- Have the students think of ways that they can save water and take other steps to protect aquatic habitats.
Review the material from the Fall unit.
Aquatic means "water," so aquatic life means things that live in water habitats.
Marsh - shallow water with non-woody plants growing above water level.
Pond - a small and shallow body of water with plants growing above water level only on the edges; generally freezes solid during winter.
River - a moving body of water that flows from one place to another.
Stream - smaller than a river, may even dry up sometimes.
Puddles - any body of water that lasts for a few days or more and may attract aquatic life.
You never know what you'll find when you go exploring at River Bend!
Here are the three aquatic habitats you'll explore at River Bend:
Here are three more aquatic habitats that you can come back and explore sometime!
lake, ocean, creek, lagoon, bog, sea, tidal pool
geyser, fen, flood plain, bog, estuaries, aquifer
Maybe even a birdbath or water dish if left standing long enough!
Make a list of aquatic life that you might find at River Bend Nature Center, which could include any of the following organisms. Perhaps group them by habitat type, above or below water, etc.
algae, toad, duck, giant water bug, frog, muskrat, scuds, back swimmers
cattails, crayfish, beaver, diving beetles, duckweed, minnow, mink, water striders
sedge, turtle, fish, red mite, salamander, fisher spider, dragonfly larvae, snail, clams
whirligig beetles, water bugs, leech, mosquito larvae
Discuss the importance of freshwater aquatic habitats to people, asking the students about all the different ways they use water. Remind them that the water they use doesn't come just from a faucet, but originally comes from nature.
- The more quietly you go, the more you will see and hear.
- Wear a name tag to help us get to know you.
- Listen to your leader or whomever's turn it is to talk.
- Raise your hand if you have something to say.
- Leave things growing unless your leader says you can pick something.
- Nature needs all that is here - what lives here, grows here, dies here, stays here.
- Stay with your group.
- Be nice to nature - and to each other!
Send us your ideas! Email them to Sarah Shimek.
- Introduce the key concepts by showing pictures like those above to your students on your classroom monitor. Ask questions about the pictures.
- There are many good aquatic wildlife books that showcase how animals live in these habitats. Your school librarian may be able to help you find some.
- Allow the students to create a wetlands mural: first make the habitat, then add animals where they might live.
The following links contain interesting information on aquatic life.
You can also
send us your favorite aquatic life links! Email them to
EPA site with various water activities for kids:
A kids' page about turtles and more:
For kids and teachers about frogs:
Perform a search, there is much more information to be found: