Celebrate Biodiversity Placemat

Students create restaurant {definitionbot=disable}placemats containing puzzles and games about diversity. This activity provides a fun route toward a deeper understanding of biodiversity, its importance, and the impact of human actions.

Materials Needed
Extension Activities
Relevant Curriculum Standards


Students create restaurant placemats containing puzzles and games related to biodiversity concepts.

Estimated class time:
2 to 3 periods—two class periods to research and design placemats, one more class period to trade and work out puzzles.


Students will:

  • Define biodiversity
  • Understand the value of biodiversity
  • Understand how humans impact biodiversity
  • Create games and puzzles related to biodiversity


  • Internet access
  • 11 x 14 drawing paper
  • Markers, colored pencils, rulers, stencils, etc.
  • Samples of placemats/tray liners from local restaurants with puzzles and games on them.
  • Access to laminator


  1. Tell students that an imaginary local restaurant wants to promote a celebration of biodiversity by using placemats with a biodiversity theme and that they have been 'hired' to design those placemats. Show students some examples of existing restaurant placemats, so they can get a general idea of how to design their own.

  2. Direct students to The Unbalancing Act chapter of the Environmental Change and Our Health (EcoHealth) website at www.pbs.org/journyeytoplanetearth.

  3. Students should explore the site to find definitions for:
    • Erosion
    • Deforestation
    • Habitat
    • Biodiversity
    • Ecosystem
    • Watershed
    • Species
    • Green revolution
    • Organic
    • Greenhouse gases
    • Sustainable development
    • Megacity
    • Microbes
    • Pathogen
    • Bioactive

    Encourage students to use the customized glossary. Glossary words are bolded and appear in a sepia tone on the website. Words are cross-linked to create deeper understanding. Then as a class, discuss the value of biodiversity, using examples from the website. Talk about the different ways that humans have negatively impacted biodiversity, and what we are doing to help prevent future losses of biodiversity.

  4. Students should then design their own puzzles and activities to illustrate the concepts and words they learned from the website and class discussions. Encourage them to include multiple concepts and incorporate different types of activities. They can create crossword puzzles, word searches, illustrated mazes, matching games, connect-the-dots puzzles, fill in the blank stories or puzzles, or other ideas that express the concepts from the site. Arrange the puzzles in an interesting way on the paper, add color, and be sure to come up with an interesting title.

  5. The placemats can then be laminated and shared with other students in the class. The students can work out the puzzles using dry erase or transparency markers, clean them off and trade again.


Placemats can be assessed using the following criteria:

  • At least 10 concepts included
  • At least three different types of activity included
  • Answers to activities are included on placemat (on back, or upside down on border)
  • Placemat has a clear title
  • Creative design and use of color


  • Students can present lessons to younger students, and then use their placemats as an assessment tool.
  • Plan a biodiversity party, at which the placemats are used to display foods and products from endangered or threatened ecosystems.
  • Learn about national and/or local organizations that promote preservation of biodiversity and find out ways to help.

This lesson correlates to the following National Science Education Standards, located online at bob.nap.edu/html/nses/html/6e.html#csc912, and National Health Education Standards located online at www.aahperd.org/aahe/pdf_files/standards.pdf.

National Science Education Standards

Content Standard C:
As a result of their activities in grades 9-12, all students should develop understanding of interdependence of organisms:

  • Organisms both cooperate and compete in ecosystems. The interrelationships and interdependencies of these organisms may generate ecosystems that are stable for hundreds or thousands of years.
  • Human beings live within the world's ecosystems. Increasingly, humans modify ecosystems as a result of population growth, technology, and consumption. Human destruction of habitats through direct harvesting, pollution, atmospheric changes, and other factors is threatening current global stability, and if not addressed, this destruction of habitat will irreversibly affect ecosystems.

Content Standard F:
As a result of activities in grades 9-12, all students should develop understanding of natural resources:

  • Humans use many natural systems as resources. Natural systems have the capacity to reuse waste, but that capacity is limited. Natural systems can change to an extent that exceeds the limits of organisms to adapt naturally or humans to adapt technologically


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