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Educational Programs - 3rd Grade: Community and Habitat


  1. To introduce students to the concepts of habitat, community and adaptation.
  2. To impress upon the students the impact that humans can have on wildlife resources.

What to bring:

  • Each student should bring a pencil to write with and a hard surface to write on, such as a clipboard.
  • We will provide booklets for them to write in.


  • Five Resources: food, shelter, space, water, and air
  • Plot Survey
  • Food Chains in Community
  • Adaptation to Habitat
  • All Aboard

Key concepts that students should know:

  • Diversity: how many types of animals and plants live in a certain area.
  • Adaptation: how a certain animal can live in a certain area (example: fish are adapted to live in water, not a tree).
  • Habitat: the place where an animal or plant lives.
  • Food Chains: the way that energy passes from a plant or animal to another animals, in the form of food.

Five Trail Rules of Conduct:

  1. Walk quietly.
  2. Stay on the trails.
  3. Stay behind the leader and listen carefully.
  4. Do not pick anything connected to the ground.
  5. Do not chew gum because it can hurt animals if they eat it.

Third Grade Post-visit Activities

Following your visit to the Calvin College Ecosystem Preserve, you may want to try some of the activities listed below.

Design a Habitat

Provide each student with a large piece of paper. Assign an animal or kind of animal (reptile, amphibian, mammal, bird, fish, insect) to each student. Ask the student to design a habitat for that particular animal. Remind them to include all of the necessities for life: food, water, air, space, and shelter. Ask the students what the climate should be and what kind of conditions their habitat would offer. When the students are finished sketching out their ideas of the habitat, have each student present their habitat, including which animal they were assigned and how the habitat suits their needs.

Energy Transfer Game

This game is taken from the book Education Goes Outdoors by Frank A. Johns, Kurt Allen Liske, and Amy L. Evans, pages 116-117. In this game the students will simulate the members of a food chain. It is a game like tag. About one third of the students should be plants, one third plant eaters, and one third animal eaters. One student plays the sun. The person who is the sun stands in one place. This is the only person in the beginning of the game who has any energy. The sun gives energy to the plants in units of four to start the game. When the plants run out of energy, they go back to the sun to get more. All of the animals start at their home, which is safe. They leave their home to hunt for food. Animals that do not hunt or cannot catch food are considered dead of starvation at the end of the game. The animals can only get energy if they can catch and tag a plant or animal. Two units are given up at each tag and on of the two goes into a container marked "Used Up Energy." Animals can get energy from plants or other animals as long as they can catch them. The plants run away from the animals that are trying to catch them. After several rounds, discuss with the students where the energy came from and how it was used up. Ask what things were at the bottom of the food chain and what things were at the top. What would happen if all the owls were gone? What if all the mice were gone? Can an animal be both predator and prey? Give examples. Which things are producers? Which things are consumers?