Sensory Opposites: creating contrasting habitats

What better way to learn about arctic and desert animals than with sensory bins!!! Micah and Titus had a great time learning about the different animals, names and characteristics while in their “natural habitat.”  Since Micah wasn’t familiar with all the names of the animals, he asked me to print out the names as reference.  It amazed me that he initiated this!  A curious mind and an eager spirit always makes homeschooling a little more fun (and encouraging for mommy)!

The Desert Habitat


The guide is on the lid!I used cornmeal (as sand), added rocks and marbles and voila…a desert was made!


I used cornmeal (as sand), added rocks and marbles and voila…a desert was made!

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The Arctic Habitat







When I introduced the lesson, I filled a bin with water and froze it while the boys napped.  They were thrilled when they woke up to find frozen water and arctic animals!  I also gave Micah some flour and a strainer so he could “sift the flour” and pretend that snow was falling on their little arctic habitat.  Titus enjoyed feeling the icy water and watching it slowly melt as they played

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On other occasions, I just used ice cubes and poured blue-dyed water to simulate an ocean or any body of water that some of the animals might live in.  Thus, some animals could hang out on the cubes and others would “swim” in the water.  They easily spent an hour on each of these bins! 

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They both enjoyed the smooth texture of cornmeal and the cold-slippery texture of ice cubes.   Micah loved sifting the flour to make snow and watching it fall on the animals.  Titus got a kick out of it too.  Aside from learning the names of the animals and matching them to their respective pictures, they also learned how drastically different these two habitats were.  The desert is dry (and hot) while the arctic can be cold and wet.  Touching, watching and feeling the ice melt emphasized this point.

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Watching Micah (patiently) teaching Titus the names of the animals and the two of them working (peacefully) together is always the biggest highlight of the day.

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We capped off our habitat activities with a trip to “Curiodessey” (like a small zoo) where they were able to see and at times touch the actual animals they learned about.  I must admit, even I got excited to see a road runner, which wasn’t something I was particularly familiar with (aside from Wyley Coyote’s mortal enemy).  It was a family fun day for everyone.

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This habitat activity is filled with sensations that will stimulate your little one’s senses in a terrific way. There are variations (if you dare) that you can add – jello (for swamp), jelly (for marsh), dry ice (fog).  We chose these two habitats because honestly they were the items that were currently available in our pantry.  The field-trip reinforced these lessons that much more and gave the boys, daddy (and myself) a fun activity to look forward to.


Hope this activity is  as”cool” for you as it was for us!


My favorite moment: Titus looking admiringly at his brother while he teaches him all about the animals.

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