Andrea Mulder-Slater: The Art of Childhood


Earth Day Fun: Animal Habitat Craft for Kids

Use toys and found objects to teach kids about the environment

Nimal habitat crafts for Earth Day |

Last week, our area experienced high winds resulting in a massive storm surge.

The ocean made its way well onto the shore and brought with it a fair amount of flotsam and jetsam. At the end of our pathway, seaweed and driftwood were tangled together with dead crabs, and plastic bottles. The mangled debris – both natural and manufactured - was enough to prompt a conversation about habitats with my seven-year-old daughter.

Habitats are like well-oiled machines. But if just one thing is removed, everything else is impacted. In fact, even small changes to ecosystems are enough to potentially affect plant and animal life within that habitat – and beyond.

One way for kids to see how habitats function, is to have them make a one. Or a few.

Here’s what you need:

  • A box or other support. We used the cardboard packaging from our IKEA Kallax door inserts which gives you two reasons to buy them now.
  • Felt and/or construction paper
  • Paint. This is optional and full disclosure: we didn’t use any.
  • Colourful cellophane
  • Scissors
  • Tape and/or glue
  • Rocks
  • Seashells
  • Beach glass
  • Pine cones
  • Small sticks or twigs
  • Pompoms
  • Stickers
  • Lego
  • Other assorted found objects.
  • Small plastic toys. Yeah, I get the irony of using plastic while talking about the environment, but we can’t all be perfect.

Here's what you do:

  1. Keep in mind that habitats need to provide the animals living there with three basic things – food, water and shelter.
  2. Plan your habitat(s). My daughter started by searching through her toy animals to see which ones were the most plentiful.  From there, she decided to make Woodland, Arctic and Ocean habitats.
  3. Start with a base or support. We began with cardboard upon which my kiddo added felt, construction paper and cellophane. Your kids might choose to decorate with paint instead, but we chose to stick with dry supplies.
  4. Continue to build up the habitat by adding items one would find there. The idea is to work with what you have on hand.

Woodland Habitat

For the Woodland Habitat, my daughter used a measuring spoon as a river, felt for a rabbit hole, a broken seashell as a cave, rolled and cut paper as trees and shrubs, pinecones as trees and rocks as… rocks.

Woodland habitat craft.

Animals in woodland habitat craft.

"Jack, everyone has been talking about us since we moved in together. I'm telling you. I can HEAR them."

Animals in woodland habitat craft.

"What do you mean you let the mice go? Are you freakin' kidding me?"

Arctic Habitat

For the Arctic Habitat, my kiddo used white felt, blue cellophane, stones and little bumpy stickers we use to keep our cupboard doors from banging when closed.

Arctic habitat craft.

Arctic habitat craft.

"And then the hare says to the seal, 'But I thought it was Thursday'! Get it? THURSDAY!"

Arctic habitat craft.

"Build a house here, you said. It'll be safe, you said."

Ocean Habitat

And for the Ocean Habitat she included cellophane, beach glass, pompoms, seashells, and sparkly stickers.

Ocean habitat craft.

Ocean habitat craft.

And that's when the jellyfish realized his days were numbered.

Ocean habitat craft.

"Ok. Has anyone seen my hat?"

We’ve all talked with our kids about the environment. It’s a no brainer. A clean environment is a healthy environment and a dirty environment, isn’t. But exactly how to keep the earth healthy, isn’t so easy. Sure, we can clean up the garbage in our immediate area (which is what we did on our beach after the storm) but when it comes to the bigger picture, kids can sometimes feel powerless. This is where the idea of “if everyone chips in, big things can happen” comes into play.

If you would like to learn about what you and your family can do in your neighbourhoods (and beyond) to help protect habitats, visit Earth Day CanadaEco Kids, The David Susuki Foundation, Earth Rangers and Enviroment Canada.

Also, for more ideas on how to live "green" don’t miss YMC’s 50 Shades of Green blog written by Gwen Leron.

Make a Habitat Craft

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