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Robin Habitat and the Seasons
When Will Our Robin
Habitat be Ready?

Standards

Materials:
See Web and journal pages, below.

Timing:
Begin this activity in the winter.

Overview
In this lesson, students explore the chain of sun-driven events that must occur before robins can return to their breeding habitat.

Background
As spring advances, sunlight increases, and a host of natural events are set in motion. Temperatures rise, ice melts, soil warms, plants grow, and the many links of the robin's food chain come together again.

Tip: Read Reasons for Seasons: Background if you need a refresher on the relationship between sunlight and seasons.


Laying the Groundwork

1. List Habitat Needs: What does a robin need from its habitat?
Ask the above question and make a list of robin needs. Here are two options for exploring this question; use one or both to find out what students think:

a) Have students think about what they've observed or learned about robins. Document responses on chart paper. Revisit and revise these later in the year.
b) Have children view photos in Robin Habitat and the Seasons
and respond to the questions on the worksheets.

2. Look for Connections to the Seasons: Is the robin's habitat "ready?"
Help students think backward from each habitat need they identified in #1 above. Ask, What seasonal changes need to happen in our neighborhood before robins can get what they need? Consider asking these types of questions to help them link ideas:

  • Teacher: Could robins eat worms here this time of year?
    Student:
    No, there are no worms.
  • Teacher: What has to happen for worms to come out?
    Student:
    The ground needs to thaw.
  • Teacher: What causes the ground thaw?
    Student:
    Warmth/heat.
  • Teacher: What causes the warmth?
    Student:
    The sun's energy increases in spring.
  • Teacher: What causes the sun's energy to increase?
    Student:
    The changing season; our hemisphere gets more sunlight in the spring.

Exploration
Student Journal Page
Teacher's Version (example)

1. Make Predictions: Draw Chains of Connections

a) Together, discuss students' responses. Students should begin to realize that each new event is affected by the one before it — and that the sun is at the beginning of all of these chains.

b) Pass out the Chains of Connections journal page. Have students use it to illustrate their predictions about cause-and-effect relationships. (The teacher's version has an example.) Do this early in the season so students can document their predictions. They should continue to add to it, or to a new version, as they uncover new information during the season (see below).


Student Journal Page
2. Observe and Track Weather and Habitat Changes
How do events unfold from winter to spring? What causes what? What role does the weather play? As the season progresses, invite students to gather new information about how these factors link and interact. Consider these sources:


Assessment
Review students' original and revised charts, journal pages, and responses to discussion questions. Use this assessment scale to document their understanding and abilities. Choose items appropriate to your study and grade level.

Extensions
Also see these related activities and information:

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