In this activity, students collect information about different biomes by watching videos and doing research on the Web. They share their information in a carousel brainstorm activity and locate the biomes on a world map. Then student teams research different biomes and present their information to the class. As an option, students design an imaginary plant or animal that is adapted to a particular biome.
Note: This lesson plan was revised in September 2009, and now makes use of a Biomes interactive rather than two printable PDFs in the earlier version.
- Identify terrestrial and aquatic biomes
- Describe the environmental factors and the plants and animals of each biome
- Identify the location of different biomes on a world map
- Understand the interrelationship between environmental factors and the plants and animals within a biome
- Describe examples of plant and animal adaptations to specific biomes
- Two to three class periods.
Use these resources to create a simple assessment or video-based assignment with the Lesson Builder tool on PBS LearningMedia.
Before the Lesson
- Make a copy of the Biome Worksheet (PDF) and the World Map (PDF) for each student.
- Make a transparency of the Biome World Map.
- Set up carousel brainstorm stations with newsprint and markers. Include the same categories on the newsprint as those on the Biome Worksheet (PDF)
- Review the concepts of abiotic and biotic factors in ecosystems and plant and animal adaptations.
1. Give a copy of the Biome Worksheet (PDF) and a World Map (PDF) to each student. Then show the following biome videos:
You or your students can search PBS LearningMedia for other videos available on grassland/savanna, shrubland/chaparral taiga/coniferous forest, or temperate deciduous forest biomes. Ask students to take notes on each biome, using the Biome Worksheet (PDF).
2. Have student teams do a carousel brainstorm with a different newsprint station for each biome. Include the same categories on the newsprint as those on the Biome Worksheet (PDF). Place a blank World Map (PDF) at each station, and have students sketch in pencil where they think that biome is located. If teams disagree about the location, have them sketch in a different color pencil or pen. Rotate teams through each biome station. Then discuss the following as you review each station:
- What are the unique characteristics of each biome?
- How are the plants and animals of each biome adapted to their environment?
- How are the biomes similar to one another?
- Where in the world is each biome located? Use a pencil to mark the locations on your World Map (PDF).
- Which biome do you live in?
- What other biomes have you visited? What do you know about each one?
Display the Biome World Map, which uses different colors to represent the location of each biome station.
3. Show all groups a sample climograph (temperature and precipitation charts) from Biomes Interactive. Then discuss the following:
- How does the physical environment affect the organisms that can live in a certain area? What is the interrelationship between abiotic and biotic factors?
4. Divide the class into biome teams:
- Tundra (Arctic/Alpine),
- Taiga/Coniferous Forest,
- Temperate Deciduous Forest,
- Tropical Rain Forest,
- Shrubland/Chaparral, and
(You may not have enough students or materials to cover each of the biomes.) Have each team research their biome using at least three different resources, including Biomes, the Web, and the library. Their research should include climate information, important physical factors (such as soil type, tides, salinity, etc.), plants and animals, adaptations of the plants and animals to their environment, and environmental issues that affect the biome. In addition, ask students to create a climograph for their biomes, using a resource such as Weatherbase.com (http://www.weatherbase.com/).
Check for Understanding
Have student teams present information on their biomes in creative ways—for example, using models, illustrations, travel brochures, skits, and so on. After each team presents, have them map their biome on a transparency or wall version of a World Map (PDF), using a different color for each biome.
Optional: Have students design an imaginary plant or animal that is adapted to the biome of their choice. Ask them to write a description of the organism and its adaptations and to make a drawing of it in its environment. Have students share their organisms with the class and display them.
An example of mutualism in the African Savanna is with grazing animals such as Gazelle. Birds perch on their backs and eat the bugs. The birds get food and the gazelle is free of bugs.
An example of commensalism is with hyenas and lions. The lion will eat, and the hyena will get the leftovers.