My Space

By Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, August 23, 2006

Grade Level

  • PreK-1


  • Architecture

Subject Area

  • Language Arts
  • Science

Lesson Time

Two fifty-minute class periods


A distinctive environment supports all living things. In this activity, students will examine how animals create a unique space in which they can live. In this inter-disciplinary activity, students will read a poem about animals' habitats, and then discuss the habitats. They will also create a space of their own and write a poem that describes their creation.

National Standards

Standard 5. Level I. Understands the structure and function of cells and organisms
2. Knows that plants and animals have features that help them live in different environments
Standard 6. Level I. Understands relationships among organisms and their physical environment
2. Knows that living things are found almost everywhere in the world and that distinct environments support the life of different types of plants and animals
Language Arts
Standard 1. Level I. Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process
7. Writes in a variety of forms or genres (e.g., picture books, friendly letters, stories, poems, information pieces, invitations, personal experience narratives, messages, responses to literature)8. Writes for different purposes (e.g., to entertain, inform, learn, communicate ideas)


Students will do the following:

  • identify and describe various animals' habitats
  • create a personal space that evokes a specific feeling
  • write a poem that describes a personal space



  • blankets
  • sheets
  • newspapers
  • large pieces of cardboard
  • any other items that can be used to create a space


Building Background
Pets' Spaces

The purpose of this activity is to provide students with an opportunity to examine the different spaces that animals create for themselves.

1. Copy Kenn Nesbitt's poem "Pet Shopping" onto the blackboard or onto a piece of chart paper. This poem may be found on this link You may also go to this address and type the words "Pet Shopping" into the search box.

Pet Shopping

While shopping at the pet store

I got my fondest wish.

I bought myself a fish bowl

and then a pair of fish. 

And since I was already

out shopping at the store

I thought I ought to purchase

another smidgen more.

And so I got a rabbit,

a hamster and a frog,

a gerbil and a turtle,

a parrot and a dog.

I purchased an iguana,

a tortoise and a rat,

an eight-foot anaconda,

a monkey and a cat.

A guinea pig, a gecko,

a ferret and a mouse,

and had them all delivered,

directly to my house.

My sister went berzerko!

She's now installing locks,

because I said her bedroom

would be their litter box!

--Kenn Nesbitt

2. Share the poem with your students. Discuss the ways that a fish bowl creates a space for the fish.

3. Have students choose other animals from the poem and describe the spaces that the animals create for themselves or that people create for them when they keep them as pets.

4. Involve students in a discussion about the ways people create spaces in which to live.

Steps for Learning
Creating a Private Space

In this activity, students will create a personal space in the classroom and write a poem that describes the space.

1. Tell students that they are going to create a personal space in the classroom. Explain to students that they can move desks and chairs to create this space and may use the items that you provide (see materials list) to create the space.

Teacher Note: Depending on the space available in your classroom, you may choose to complete this activity in several sessions.

2. Refer to the "My Space" worksheet to complete this activity. Depending on the age of your students, they may need adult help to complete the worksheet.

3. After students have finished their poems, you may have a poetry party where students take turns sharing their poems with the class.


Answer the following questions:


What do I like most about my space?

What would I change about my space?

Enrichment Extension Activities

A Special Space
Have students write a description or draw a picture of their favorite space in the world and a description or picture of an imaginary space.

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