Is it a habit or biome? And for that matter, how do you tell the difference?
The two appear to be similar concepts and the terms are often used interchangeably, but there is a subtle difference.
In a nutshell, a habitat refers to the local environment, while a biome refers to a larger global ecosystem.
In today’s homeschool science corner, we are going to look at the difference between a habitat versus a biome. I have also included a nature study activity, free biome posters and more!
Habitat or Biome
Let us first begin by looking a the definitions of these two terms:
- A habitat is the natural environment of a plant or an animal or the place that is normal for the life and growth of an animal or a plant.
- A biome describes the world’s major communities of living things. Biomes are classified according to the predominant vegetation (plants) and characterized by adaptations of organisms (animals) to that particular environment.
In other words, a habitat describes the specific neighborhood where a plant or animal is found. A biome describes major neighborhoods of the world by the plants and weather conditions that are typically found in it.
So, a habitat refers to the local environment of a specific species, while a biome refers to a global environment.
Find your Habitat
You can certainly look up what biome you live in on a map, but to really understand the nuances of your local habitat, it is best to get out in it!
Begin this nature study by discussing with your students the biome you live in. After that, share the difference between a habitat and a biome.
Then, take a walk in your neighborhood or on a nature trail nearby looking for clues to determine which the habitat you live in. You will want to answer questions like…
- What kinds of plants do you see?
- What kinds of animals do you see?
- What is the weather like today?
- What is the weather usually like in spring, summer, fall and winter?
You want to allow your student to observe the environment, find clues from there and then use those clues to determine the habitat they are in. You can record their answers on the free printable below.
After you have finished your nature study, you can follow up with these activities.
- Biome Posters – Have the students create a poster for each of the worlds major biomes with a few facts on each. You can use the free printables below as templates.
- Habitat Diorama – Have the students create their local environment on the inside of a shoe-box. They can use plastic or air-dry plants along with real sand, dirt, or rocks. Alternatively, you could have them create the scene using construction paper. Be sure to have the students also place some of the animals typically found in the region in their diorama as well.
We also offer a habitat lapbook that covers four of the world’s most common habitats that you could use to review these concepts with your student.
Books to Read
The following books are good options for learning more about the different habitats.
- The Arctic Habitat (Introducing Habitats) by Molly Aloian and Bobbie Kalman
- Arctic Tundra (Habitats) by Michael H. Forman
- A Desert Habitat (Introducing Habitats) by Kelley Macaulay and Bobbie Kalman
- About Habitats: Deserts by Cathryn P. Sill
- Life in the Desert (Pebble Plus: Habitats Around the World) by Alison Auch
- A Rainforest Habitat (Introducing Habitats) by Molly Aloian
- A Forest Habitat (Introducing Habitats) by Bobbie Kalman
- Northern Refuge: A Story of a Canadian Boreal Forest by Audrey Fraggalosch
- A Grassland Habitat (Introducing Habitats) by Kelley Macaulay and Bobbie Kalman
- Grasslands (About Habitats) by Cathryn P. Sill
- A Savanna Habitat (Introducing Habitats) by Bobbie Kalman
Here are several printables you can download to use with these activities.
I trust that you will enjoy learning about habitats and biomes with these activities. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below.