Make a Giant Earth Puzzle
In this science activity, kids will explore how ecologists study how everything on Earth interacts and fits together like this puzzle!
An ecologist is a scientist who studies how organisms (living things) interact with their environment (the world around them). They study everything from streams to endangered species to acid rain. Ecologists work in zoos, at the North Pole, even deep down in the ocean. Ecologists are important because they teach us how to take care of the air, ground and water around us. They also teach us how to protect wild animals, endangered species and the environment overall.
Scientists sometimes talk about the world in terms of "biomes." A biome is a region that has a distinct climate or environment, and has distinct plants and animals that have adapted to living there.
An adaptation is a trait that an organism develops to ensure that it can survive in a particular area -- to obtain food, water and light; to fight off predators or disease; to survive the physical conditions that are present in a particular biome (such as extreme cold or heat); and to reproduce. For example, the snowshoe hare has white fur, an adaptation that allows it to blend into the snow of the arctic and hide from predators. A cactus needs very little water, and has prickers instead of leaves -- this allows it to live in the desert.
- Butcher paper
- Pencil - 1 total
- String - 24 inch total
- Scissors - 1 pair total
- Paint, crayons, markers or similar
- Clear contact paper
- Hook Velcro
Cut 2 large pieces of butcher paper; each should be about 3 feet long and 2 feet wide. Tape these two pieces together on the long edge using masking tape, making a 4' x 3' shape that is almost square. (We will refer to it as a square!)
Tape the end of the 24" piece of string to the center of the square. Tie the free end of the string around a pencil, and adjust the length of the string so that the pencil can reach just to the edge of the paper at the closest point. For example, if your paper is 4' x 3', the length should be just under 18".
Pull the string taut and proceed to draw a large circle by moving the pencil around in a clockwise motion on the paper.
Cut out the circle. Draw a freehand outline of the earth's continents and oceans; color and decorate as desired. This does not have to be perfect -- especially because you are only working with part of the globe -- but do your best. It is art! Be sure to label the continents and oceans.
To make this project last longer, "laminate” the earth by applying contact paper to the front and the back.
Cut the earth into puzzle pieces. For younger kids, make fewer pieces; for older kids, make more pieces.
Put hook Velcro on the back of the puzzle pieces so that they will stick to carpet and do not slide around.
Have fun putting together your giant puzzle on the carpet and learning about the different parts of the earth.
When your puzzle is complete, try drawing or placing pictures of diverse animals and plants on the continents where they are from. Be sure to use pictures of animals from aquatic environments, forest environments, beach environments, etc. You can do this all at once, or make it a project to do over time as you discover new things.