Ecojustice: Habitat and Shelter

The Ecojustice curriculum for gr. 6-8 is in active development. This page exists primarily to post resources and lesson plans in progress. Images and text on this page copyright (c) 2014-present Dan Harper

Back to the main Ecojustice page


Habitat and Shelter includes both human habitat, and habitat for non-humans. Habitat means a place an organism can live, so habitat includes (at a minimum) reliable sources of food, shelter where the organism can have enough safety to live and raise the next generation, and reliable sources of fresh clean water. Habitat always includes interactions with other organisms — organisms that want to eat us, organisms that we want to eat, and any other kinds of relationships we have with other organisms. When looking at human habitat, we will want to ask: How much food, water, and shelter is enough? and Why do some humans have no shelter while others have more than enough? When looking at the relationship between human and non-human organisms, we will want to ask: When humans change their habitat to make it better for them (making farms, roads, houses, etc.), how does that affect other organisms?


a. Learn about the local watershed

Map of Adobe Creek watershed:



b. Build bird nesting boxes


Tree Swallow birdhouse plans (PDV)


When working with a class, it’s easiest to make several birdhouses at once. You can set up an assembly line, and every teen gets a chance to try all the tools (handsaw, electric drill for 1-1/2″ holes, hand drill for smaller holes):

Making birdhouses

In the next photo (below), you can see how to cut the corners off the floor safely — cut the corners first, before cutting the floor off the board. The teen at right is sitting on the board to hold it steady:

Making birdhouse floors


c. Build bee houses

Project: Cut 18 inch lengths of 4×4 redwood or fir lumber (NOT treated lumber). Drill 5/16 inch holes, about 3-14″ deep, into the lumber to serve as nesting holes for Mason Bees (see photo). Mount the completed bee houses in appropriate habitat.

Bee House


d. learn about local plants and animals

e. field trip to redwoods

f. remove invasive species

g. trail repair