Home School Life Journal

Home School Life Journal ................................................................................................................painting by Katie Bergenholtz

ZooLand, Part 1: Introduction and Living vs. Non-living

We will be enjoying a Zoo simulation while the boys learn their biology facts and I hope you will enjoy it along with us. In the simulation, the boys will try to save a local zoo from shutting down. The mayor and members of the city council say that the zoo is outdated, has low attendance and that the animals are poorly treated so the zoo must close. An agreement has been worked out in which the Mayor agrees to keep the zoo open for one more year if the needed improvements can be made. Your students jobs are to learn how to be zookeepers by learning their lessons and passing tests on the lessons. The students will also be able to purchase new animals or make improvements to the zoo by studying about the different kinds of animals in a zoo and making appropriate habitats for them.  The simulation ends with the grand re-opening of the new and improved Zooland, complete with the students able to give  tours of the various habitat displays. 

Living vs. Non-living or The Criteria for Life


The first topic we covered was the criteria for life, or living vs. non-living. This may seem like a very simple topic, for for pre-schoolers only, but it is not really. Anyone can tell that a book is not alive, that is true, but the four criteria for life is part of the high school text (Apologia's Exploring Creation with Biology, chapter 1, for example), so it is a topic for all ages. The wording and examples may become more complex as the student gets older.


This photo is from when we did this simulation in 11/2008.

  • Living things reproduce (Can cover asexual and sexual reproduction, on the high school level) and as students get older they can begin to also understand that "All life forms contain deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)."
  • Living things eat, drink and grow becomes "All life forms have a method to extract energy from their surroundings and convert it into energy that is useful to them." at the high school level.
  • Living things sense things and react to changes in their surroundings, including moving.
Material for older students could also cover the differences between herbivores, carnivores and omnivores, and the differences between producers, consumers and decomposers. 
After you finish the lesson, you can check understanding by asking a few questions, gearing the wording to the question depending on the student's age.

Now, have your students pick a type of animal to study. Have them organize the information they learn to make a sign for the animal's cage. They then need to research the habitat needed for this animal. What other animals live in this type of habitat? This might lead to the next animal study.


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1 comment:

  1. And I think this is the last post of yours from last week I haven't gotten to yet. And I LOVE this idea, I'm thinking this will be our final unit for our land animals, and will work great for finishing up studying animals in general.

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