Habitats: enquire

This session enables learners to map the habitats their school site currently offers for nature. Learners will use flowcharts to choose the habitats. There are eight habitat mapping activities to work through or choose from. 

Mapping habitats on your site is an important first step in the Nature Park process. Depending on the number of habitats you choose to map, this session can be extended into multiple sessions. 

This is recommended as session three of the Key Stage Two Habitats Unit, exploring and identifying habitats. 

< 30 minutes


Green skills

  • Identification and ecology 

Step by step

Quick start activity

Tell learners they will identify and map the different habitats on their school site. 

Discussion questions: What habitats do you think we might find on our school site? Why is it important we accurately identify the habitats on our school site? 

For question one, you could give learners a list of eight habitat categories to choose from. These habitat categories learners may identify and map in the main activity.  

  • Ground without plants
  • Grass and wildflowers
  • Water
  • Flowers and food
  • Hedges and bushes
  • Vertical features
  • Trees
  • Microhabitats: Homes and help for nature 

For question two, learners might point out the following: 

  • Understanding our site will help us identify opportunities for changes which will have the greatest benefits for nature and for people
  • Accurately recording what our site is like, before we make any changes, will help us measure our progress towards boosting biodiversity

Main activity suggestions

There are eight sets of habitat mapping activities. School sites with lots of natural areas may have all eight habitat categories, others may only have one or two. When choosing an activity, ensure it is a habitat which you do have on site. For example, if you have a grass playing field you could use suggestion 1. 

This session can be extended into multiple sessions depending on the number of habitats you and the learners wish to map. It is a great way to include the mapping your site aspect, of the Nature Park process, in curriculum learning time. 

Suggestion 1 (outdoor) 

Nature Park activity: Mapping grass and wildflower habitats Learners find out about the important features of grasses and record and interpret data about different plants in a sample area. They then apply this learning to help them map grass and wildflower habitats across the school site. 

Suggestion 2 (outdoor) 

Nature Park activity: Mapping tree habitats Learners identify the key features of trees. This will help them to answer the questions in the Trees Habitat Flowchart accurately to decide which habitat they have. 

Suggestion 3 (outdoor)

Nature Park activity: Mapping ground without plants Learners will investigate a patch of ground to identify the properties of different ground materials. They will particularly focus on its permeability to water and whether it is natural or non-natural materials. Their findings will help them use the Ground Without Plants Habitat Flowchart to decide on the habitat. 

Suggestion 4 (outdoor)

Nature Park activity: Mapping water habitats Learners identify reeds and some of their uses. They will use the Water Habitat Flowchart to decide which water habitats are present at your site. 

Suggestion 5 (outdoor)

Nature Park activity: Mapping flowers and food These activities focus on plants that have been deliberately planted on your site. They will learn to identify common types of edible food plants and use the Flowers and Food Habitat Flowchart to classify flower and food growing areas. 

Suggestion 6 (outdoor)

Nature Park activity: Mapping hedges and bushes These introductory activities teach learners to distinguish between trees, shrubs and heathland, identify wildlife-friendly shrubs, and understand proportions. This knowledge will enable them to answer the questions in the hedges and bushes flowchart accurately for identifying habitats at your site. 

Suggestion 7 (outdoor)

Nature Park activity: Mapping vertical feature habitats Learners will understand, or recap, the concepts of horizontal and vertical, exploring how plants can climb up vertical features like walls and fences, and consider how vertical features function as habitats. This will help them answer the questions in the Vertical Features Habitat Flowchart and identify vertical feature habitats at your site. 

Suggestion 8 (outdoor)

Nature Park activity: Mapping microhabitats Learners will identify microhabitats on their site and discuss how different microhabitats might support nature. 

Top tips

Add the habitats learners identify to your school's Nature Park map. Use the Habitat Mapper tool to draw the shape of the habitat onto the map. Ensure learners see you do this and understand their observations are being submitted to a national map. Guidance on how to download and use the Habitat Mapper tool is available under the heading "Practise using the Habitat Mapper tool (up to one hour)" on mapping your site

The habitat map is the starting point from which you will measure change on your site and track the benefits you will be creating for nature and for your school