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Morph It!

Objectives: Students will discover how plant morphological features become characteristic to specific life zones.
Related Web-Activity: Rooted In
Subjects: Geography, Ecology, Biology, Geography, Physiology
ELRS:Science 1.2, 1.3; Arts 2.1 - 2.5
Size: Classroom
Setting: Inside or outside
Duration: One class period
Materials: Four large sheets of paper, markers and coloring materials


Teachers, divide your students into four groups. Have each group choose one of the life zones described under "Habitat Key" in the Zone into Life activity. Each group should have a different life zone.

Instruct your students on the concept of morphologies—the physical characteristics that plants and animals have—and how similar morphologies are characteristic to species of plants that live in similar life zones or perform similar functions.

Examples of characteristic morphologies are:

  • Broad-leaved plants are common under dense-canopied forests.
  • Cushion-type plants are common in cold, windy environments, such as alpine.
  • Plants with sprawling root systems are common on ever-moving talus/scree slopes.
  • Thin, pointy, flexible trees are common in environments that receive abundant snowfall, such as subalpine firs.

First, have each group draw their habitat type on their paper. Next, ask each group to create an imaginary plant that survives within the challenges of their habitat. The plant must have a root system, stems, leaves, flowers, and the flowers must a smell; each plant part must be uniquely designed for its habitat. The group must name their plant.

Toward the end of the class period, each group will present their habitat and specialized plant to the rest of the classroom. They should explain how their plant is adapted to defend against environmental difficulties.


If your class is capable, have them pass their posters to another group. Groups should now create a pollinator that assists in the reproduction of the new plant. The pollinator should be one that is attracted to the plant's varied characteristics (primarily color and flower smell). Pass the sheets again and have each group add an herbivore into the poster that feeds on the special plant. Pass the poster again (to the final group) and add seed movement strategy. Have the poster returned to original owners and discuss what characteristics they might add to the plant which might better attract a pollinator and better defend it against herbivores.


Lilly (half)
Lilly (half) Lilly
a Natural Resource Challenge education project made possible by Parks As Classrooms