Learning Description

Students will explore using their voices and bodies to become animals from three distinct habitats, and then work in groups to enact interactions among the animals in their assigned habitat. They will become Magic Rocks, emerging from stillness to act their roles, and then returning to stillness. Group will share their simple habitat scenes with the class.


Learning Targets


Download PDF of this Lesson

"I Can" Statements

“I Can…”

  • I can use my voice and body to enact an animal from a particular habitat.
  • I can work with a group to portray relationships among animals in a habitat.

Essential Questions

  • How do we use our voices and bodies to enact diverse animals?
  • How do animals interact in a desert, rainforest, and tundra?


Georgia Standards

Curriculum Standards

Grade 1:

S1L1. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about the basic needs of plants and animals.

Arts Standards

Grade 1:

TA.PR.1 Act by communicating and sustaining roles in formal and informal environments.


South Carolina Standards

Curriculum Standards

Grade 2:

2.L.5B. Animals (including humans) require air, water, food, and shelter to survive in environments where these needs can be met. There are distinct environments in the world that support different types of animals. Environments can change slowly or quickly. Animals respond to these changes in different ways.

Arts Standards

Grade 1:

Anchor Standard 3: I can act in improvised scenes and written scripts.


Key Vocabulary

Content Vocabulary

Habitat - the natural home or environment of an animal, plant, or other organism.

Animal - a living organism that feeds on plants or other animals, has organs that sense what is going on around it, and is able to move and respond to its surroundings.

Desert - an arid landscape with little vegetation.

Tundra - a large, barren region with no trees found between the permanent ice of the far north and the northern forests of North America, Europe, and Asia.

Rainforest - a lush, warm, wet habitats with tall trees and several layers of plant and animal life.

Predator - an animal that hunts or preys on other animals for food.

Prey - an animal hunted or killed by another animal for food.

Parent - an animal that has had or given birth to offspring.

Offspring - the child of an animal.

Arts Vocabulary

Act - to pretend to be or do something imaginaryCharacter - a person, or an animal or object that has human qualities, in a dramatic work.

Voice - an actor’s tool, which we shape and change to portray the way a character speaks or sounds

Body - an actor’s tool, which we shape and change to portray the way a character looks, walks, or moves.

Scene - a unit of drama, composed of dialogue and action that occurs in one place over a continuous period of time.



Note cards of animals that can be found in the rainforest, desert and tundra (number of notecards is dependent on the number of students in the class). Each card should have a picture of the animal, the animal’s name, and the environment in which the animal lives.


Instructional Design

Opening/Activating Strategy

Ask students, what are animals? What are plants? What is the difference? What makes an animal an animal, and what makes a plant a plant?


Work Session

Grouping Habitats and Animal Characters

  • Divide students into three groups. Assign each group one of three habitats: rainforest, desert, and tundra. Hand out note cards with the pictures, names, and habitats of various animals - e.g., the rainforest notecards might include a toucan, a black panther adult, a black panther cub, a tree frog and a monkey. Have students work in their groups to discuss their habitat, e.g., weather, plant life, land forms, other animals not featured, etc.
  • Students will explore using their voices and bodies to become their animal. Remind them that they are constrained by the limitations of the human body, but can use their imaginations. For safety, it is recommended that all animals be portrayed standing up on the floor, rather than crawling or slithering on the ground, or standing on chairs or desks.
  • Instruct the students to move through the space meeting other animals in character. The animals introduce themselves by showing their cards and saying their names and habitats. Remind them to use their character voices.

Small Group Drama

  • Put the students in their habitat groups, and assign each group a separate area of the classroom. Then tell the students to lie on the ground curled up tight to become “magic rocks”. When given a cue (“Magic rocks, come to life!”), they should wake up and gradually become their animals using their voices and bodies. They can talk to the other animals in their habitat group from their character viewpoint, using details about their needs, their physical and behavioral characteristics, and the environment in which they live. A predator might talk about wanting to hunt its prey; an herbivore might talk about the plants it eats; a young animal might talk about its life cycle; two animals might discuss the aspects of their environment that are important to them (temperature, land surface, plant life, etc.). Note: Instruct students not to act out predator/prey relationship, i.e., no chasing or pretend-eating of classmates. These may be discussed, but not enacted.
  • Give students the cue to return to Magic Rocks (“Animals, return to Magic Rocks!”). Once they have become Magic Rocks, instruct them to become themselves again.
  • Give groups a chance to discuss their Drama and their interactions. Instruct them to shape a simple scene with some planned dialogue and actions. Give them a chance to practice their scene several times.
  • One at a time, each group presents their habitat scene to the class. Have them begin as Magic Rocks, come to life, become their animals, enact their dialogue and actions, and then settle back down into Magic Rocks. If necessary, Teacher may need to give a cue for the animals to become Magic Rocks again.

Extension Activity: Have each student draw a picture of their habitat, showing all the animal characters they had in their group, and showing the relationships between them and their relationships to their environments. Remind them they can include aspects of the landscape, plants, water features, and elements of the weather.

Closing Reflection

Ask students: How did we use our voices and bodies to create animal characters? How did we make choices to act out the animals and their relationships?
What did you learn about the three habitats? How are they alike and different?




  • Students use both voice and bodily to become their animal character.
  • Students work together collaboratively in their groups.
  • Students use and apply knowledge in creating their animal characters and group knowledge.



  • Student group dramas convey accurate interrelationships in their habitats.
  • Student drawings show accurate details about the animals, plants, and landscape of their assigned habitat.



Acceleration: Have groups write out the dialogue and actions of their group drama in scene format.

Remediation: Choose one of the three habitats, and work through the sequence with the entire class together. Allow multiple students to portray the same animal character; they can work together to create their characterization.


Additional Resources

*This integrated lesson provides differentiated ideas and activities for educators that are aligned to a sampling of standards. Standards referenced at the time of publishing may differ based on each state’s adoption of new standards.

Ideas updated by:  Barry Stewart Mann

Revised and copyright: January 2023 @ ArtsNOW