Activities and Lesson Plans

cover_homes.jpgNo Place Like Home
Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine, December 2008

No Place Like Home offers several looks at how wildlife fulfill their need for shelter. You may print No Place Like Home children's pages from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine. We hope you'll consider a subscription to our magazine. Be sure to check out the Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine special offer for Teachers. And please let us know your suggestions for future issues at:

Suggested Topics: habitat needs, adapting to an environment, human impacts, survival, learned and inherited traits

Related 4th Grade TEKS: Geography: Understand regions 4.7A; How people adapt to and modify their environment 4.9A; Science: Complex systems may not work if some parts are removed. Roles of some organisms in living systems such as plants in a schoolyard 4.5A; Predict and draw conclusions about what happens when part of a system is removed 5B; Adaptations may increase the survival of members of a species, characteristics that allow members within a species to survive and reproduce 4.8A; Likenesses between offspring and parents are inherited or learned, 4.9A,B; Art: Expresses ideas through original artworks 4.2 A, B.

Discussion Questions

  • Describe the types of shelter each creature uses in Keep Texas Wild. What purpose does that shelter serve? Which ones did they make using something they found?
  • Describe the types of shelter people use. Is clothing shelter too?
  • Draw a map of your home. What functions does your home have? (protection, place to sleep, store food, place to raise young, etc.)
  • What other examples of wildlife homes or shelter can you find in this month's magazine? (p.13, the Loblolly forest is home to red crossbills, pine warblers, turkey and squirrels; p.15, black-bellied whistling ducks nest in tree cavities or man-made boxes; p.24 this bobcat adapts to its urban surroundings and uses an open pipe as a substitute for a cave or den; p.56, the hummingbird built a nest to raise its young--note: female black-chinned hummingbirds don't have black chins!; back cover, the fox squirrel can live in a hole in a tree.)
  • Ask students how the area in which they live provides them with food, water, shelter, and space. Explain that this area is their habitat and they live there because it provides what they need to survive. Explain that the habitats of other living things resemble their own neighborhood in which all their needs for survival are provided.
  • Look at the hummingbird nest on page 56 of the magazine. The female hummingbird uses fibers from plants to create their nests, and bits of spider webs to hold it together and anchor it. Notice the lichen and bits of moss she uses on the outside. Ask students about the advantage of having bits of color on the outside of the nest. (camouflage if it were on a Texas tree)


  • Make a mural or book depicting different parts of Texas. Include animals in their habitats. You can find lists of plants and animals in different regions plus activities and games in our Learn About Texas pages.
  • Have students explore a park, local natural area or their neighborhood for signs of animal homes. Look for holes, nests, scrapes and tamped-down grasses. To guess what occupied that home, look for surrounding signs. How big are the entrance and exit? What kind of path leads to it? How high or low is it? Look at the "neighborhood" -- what's available in the neighborhood? They may have to put together many clues to discover what lives there.
  • Look for an abandoned nest. What materials did the bird use to build the nest? Is it woven? Try making a bird nest out of natural materials.
  • Young Naturalist: Make a bird house
  • Make a bird feeder 
  • Make a bird buffet! Recipes for the Birds 
  • Experiment with water, sand or dirt and sticks. Try building a beaver dam. Watch for patterns of water flow and erosion. What are the advantages and disadvantages of dams?

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