Habitats teaching resources

Worksheets and lesson ideas to challenge students aged 11 to 16 to think hard about habitats, the environment and adaptations (GCSE and Key Stage 3)


Habitats teacher brief

Overview: a habitat is the place where an organism lives. Within a habitat exists a community, which is made up from the populations of different species that are all independent on each other. Within a habitat organisms are affected by living (biotic) and non-living (abiotic) factors. Biotic factors include food availability, competition and pathogens. Abiotic facts include temperature, moisture, wind intensity and direction. Organisms need to be well adapted to be successful in a habitat.

Key concept: a habitat is the place where an organism lives and interacts with the abiotic and biotic factors. Organisms that are well adapted are more likely to survive in a habitat than organisms that are not.

From big idea: organisms require a supply of energy and materials for which they often depend on, or compete with, other organisms

Linked knowledge: classification, food chains, ecology words, adaptation

Misconception [scientific idea]: antropocentric thinking [organisms exist for the benefit of humans]; teleological thinking i.e. there are a lot of rabbits to feed the foxes [an event does not happen to fulfil a need]; 

Where to start?

Spend time exploring different habitats and organisms. Ask students to watch the video below – it has some wonderful stirring music too. How many habitats can you see? Setting a homework where students explore in detail one habitat, listing the abiotic and biotic factors, as well as describing the organisms that live there, can be a powerful and motivating project. BBC nature provides a useful list of habitats here.

Habitats and adaptations of organisms including abiotic and biotic factors

Habitats and adaptationsGCSE and KS3 worksheet on adaptations and habitats. Students are given an imaginary scenario where various species have been washed up in different habitats of the World e.g. polar bears in the desert. Students need to consider the various biotic and abiotic factors of the habitat and then explain why the organism is not adapted for that habitat. Finally, students design an organism that is adapted to live in the tidal rock pools of the U.K. If you would like the original PowerPoint file please contact me.

A great example of an adaptation from the arctic ground squirrel which can drop its body temperature below freezing.

Adaptation and natural selection

Click here for resources on adaptation and natural selection.

  1. Carbon cycle
  2. Ecological terms
  3. Food chains
  4. Habitats
  5. Sampling techniques and fieldwork