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A Place to Be

Author(s): Nancy P. Moreno, PhD, Barbara Z. Tharp, MS, and Paula H. Cutler, BA.
A Place to Be

A baby penguin's "place to be" often is on its father's feet.
© Volodymyr Goink.

  • Grades:
  • K-2
  • Length: 30 Minutes


Students play a “Concentration” type card game, matching animals with their “places to be.”

This activity is from the Living Things and Their Needs Teacher's Guide. Although it is most appropriate for use with students in grades K-2, the lesson is easily adaptable for other grade levels. The guide also is available in print format.

Teacher Background

Within any given ecosystem, each living thing occupies a physical space in which it survives and is able to meet its needs. Young children may identify most with places that resemble human houses (for example, birds’ nests, ant mounds or bears’ dens). It is important to keep in mind, however, that most plants and animals do not have a “home” in the same way as people. At the same time, animals, in particular, do need safe places in which to hide from predators, raise their young and rest.

Plants, animals and other organisms interact in countless ways. In most ecosystems, organisms share some resources (air, for example) and compete for others (nutrients in soil, food and, in some cases, water). The places where a given organism can survive are limited by its requirements for food and water and by the temperature range in which it is adapted to live.

Objectives and Standards


  • All living things need a place to be.

Science Skills

  • Observing

  • Predicting

  • Comparing

  • Applying knowledge

  • Inferring

  • Sequencing

Mathematics Skills

  • Identifying patterns

Language Arts Skills

  • Listening

  • Communicating

  • Reading for information

  • Identifying words

  • Developing vocabulary

  • Following directions

Materials and Setup

Teacher Materials (see Setup)

  • 12 sheets of white cardstock

  • Pair of scissors

  • Copy of Tillena Lou's Day in the Sun storybook

Materials per Group of Students

  • Crayons or markers

  • Prepared set of "Match Up" game cards (16 cards per set, hold 2 blank cards for the Extension)

  • Resealable plastic bag


  1. You will need a copy of Tillena Lou’s Day in the Sun to read to students.  

  2. Copy the two student sheets (p. 3–4) on 81/2-in. x 11-in. card stock, then cut out one set for each group of students.  

  3. Begin this activity with the entire class. Students should play the game in groups of four.

Procedure and Extensions

  1. Read the story to the class and instruct them to raise their hands whenever “a place to be” is mentioned. Discuss some of the different places mentioned in the story (pond, field, etc.).

  2. Give each group of students a set of cards. Have each student in the group color the drawings on four of the cards. The reverse side of the cards should be left blank.

  3. Place each group’s set of cards in a plastic bag.

  4. Have students sit in a semi-circle around a table or on the floor. Demonstrate how the game is played.  

  5. First, take the cards from the bag and mix them up, being sure to keep the image sides down.  

  6. Place the cards, face down, in four rows of four each (4 x 4). Ask one student to select a card and turn it face up so that everyone can see the drawing. Then have the same student select another card from any row, turn it face up, and decide if it is a match. A match occurs when a student selects an animal on one card and the place where it may be found on the second card. When there is a match, students keep the cards (see sidebar to the right for correct matches). If the cards selected are not a match, the student places both cards face down in their respective positions, and the next student repeats the process. As the game progresses, students in the group will observe the cards selected and gain information to use when they have their turns. The game continues until all matches are made. The student with the most cards wins the game.

    Note. Encourage students to select a different card than the one chosen by the previous player, so a match can be found.

  7. Conclude by discussing the game with students. Ask, Did every plant and animal have a place to live? Did any two different plants or animals occupy exactly the same place? Help students understand that each living thing occupies a slightly different place and uses resources in a different way.


Encourage students to create their own sets of matching cards as they learn other suitable content (two blank card templates are provided on p. 4, see PDF).

Handouts and Downloads

Related Content

  • Living Things and Their Needs

    Living Things and Their Needs Teacher Guide

    The Living Things and Their Needs Teacher's Guide provides resources that allow very young students to explore living and nonliving things and learn about the basic needs of plants, animals, and people. (10 activities)

  • Tillena Lou's Day in the Sun

    Tillena Lou’s Day in the Sun Reading

    Tillena Lou and her siblings spend a lazy day imagining what it might be like if they were other types of animals. What would they need to survive?


Science Education Partnership Award, NIH

Science Education Partnership Award, NIH

Filling the Gaps: K-6 Science/Health Education
Grant Number: 5R25RR013454