Desert Lesson Plan

Date of Lesson: Spring of any year                  Teacher: Tara Bunner

Grade Level: Kindergarten                                  Subject Area: Social Studies

Time Needed:  About 2 weeks                            Topic: Deserts


What School of Education standard/s did you try to address in this lesson?

·        Standard 1:  Incorporates understanding of Human Learning an development

·        Standard 3 Demonstrates sophisticated curricular knowledge

·        Standard 4: Demonstrates pedagogical knowledge in specific domains

·        Standard 7: Understands and adapts to multiple forms of communication.

·        Standard 8: Employs varied assessment processes

·        Standard 9: Manages Learning environment

·        Standard 10: Employs varied instructional strategies

·        Standard 12: Accommodates for all students


MMSD standards:

·        Examine pictures of different environments to describe how they are similar and different from their own

·        Explain how people’s actions can have an effect on the environment.


NCSS Social Studies Theme:

            #3 People, Places, and Environments


Materials Needed:

  • Books:
            In the Desert by Mary Salzmann
            Animal Babies in Deserts by Sue Nicholson
            Plants and Flowers of the Desert by Butterfly Books
            Web sites listed in the bibliography for teacher resources
  • Several globes of maps showing the location of deserts in the world
  • Long sheet of butcher paper or newsprint
  • Construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Markers
  • Crayons
  • Glue
  • Sand
  • Pre-made yard necklaces for each member of the class:
                        1/3 of the necklaces will have pictures of kangaroos

                        1/3 of the necklaces will have pictures of camels

                        1/3 of the necklaces will have pictures of lizards

  • A piece of gold (real or pretend)
  • Gold foil
  • Table salt
  • Paintbrushes
  • An aloe plant
  • A prickly pear cactus
  • Poster board


  • TSWBAT locate deserts on the map or globe.
  • TSWBAT describe the characteristics of a desert.
  • TSWBAT name a few animals that live in deserts
  • TSWBAT name 2 plants that live in deserts
  • TSWBAT name a mineral found in the desert
  • TSWBAT tell one reason that deserts are important.
  • TSWBAT tell one thing people can do to protect the desert.

Lesson Context:  The students have been studying different environments throughout the year.  The teacher will give this lesson in spring since the students studied prairies and forests in the fall and rainforests and the Arctic and Antarctica in the winter. 


Lesson Opening:

            The teacher will read In the Desert by Mary Salzmann.



  1. Where are deserts located on the map/globe?
                        a.      The teacher will tell the students what to look for to find deserts on their maps/globes

                        b.      The students will locate deserts on their maps/globes.

   2.      What are the characteristics of a desert?

                        a.      The students will discuss what the landscape was like in the book In the Desert.

                        b.      On a long piece of butcher paper or newsprint, the children will make the landscape of a desert by                                             using glue and sand.

                                                                          i.      The stuents will use paintbrushes to paint glue onto the paper making interesting landscape
                                                        of hills, valleys, and other formations.

                                                                        ii.      The students will sprinkle sand onto the glue and let it dry.

3.      Why are deserts important?  (This section of the lesson will be taught over three days.  The students will visit three stations.  An adult (teachers or classroom volunteers) will help in each station. The teachers will be familiar with the information found at http://www.ehow.com/about_6528131_deserts-important_.html

                        a.      The teacher will introduce the stations.

                                                                          i.      The teacher will explain to the students that they will be visit stations for the next three days.

                                                                        ii.      The teacher will tell the students to listen for reasons why the desert is an important

                                                                      iii.      The teacher will provide each student with a necklace showing a picture of a desert animal
                                                            on it (a kangaroo, a camel, and a lizard).  This is how she will divide the children into groups.

                                                                       iv.      The teacher will dismiss each group to go to a station together.  The students will travel to
                                                                the station using a movement that their group animal would use.

                        b.      Station 1 - Deserts provide homes for some animals.

                                                                          i.      The teacher will read Animal Babies in Deserts by Sue Nicholson.

                                                                        ii.      Markers, crayons, construction paper, etc., the students will create some of the animals
                                                                    mentioned in the book Animal Babies in Deserts.

                                                                      iii.      The students will attach their animals to the sandy landscape on their mural.

                        c.      Station 2 - Some plants and bacteria grow only in the desert environment.

                                                                          i.      The teacher will read Plants and Flowers of the Desert by Butterfly Books.

                                                                        ii.      The students will discuss the plants and flowers they saw in the book.

                                                                      iii.      We use some plants from the desert as medicines.

                                                                1.      Teacher will show an aloe plant an talk about its soothing effects on burns

                                                                2.      Teacher will show a prickly pear cactus and talk about how doctors use a chemical in                                                                         the plant to help fight heart disease.

                                                                       iv.       The teacher will explain that a bacteria that lives in the sand of deserts, traps carbon dioxide
                                                            and fights global warming.  She will explain that carbon dioxide is a gas that would be                                                                             dangerous to the earth if we had too much of it in the air.

                                                                         v.      Using markers, crayons, construction paper, etc., the students will make some of the flowers
                                                            and plants that live in deserts.

                                                                       vi.      The students will attach their pictures to the desert mural.

                        d.      Station 3 – Minerals are found in deserts

                                                                          i.      The teacher will tell the children that minerals found in deserts. 

                                                                        ii.      She will show the children a piece of gold 

                                                                1.      She will ask them to name some things made from gold. 

                                                                2.      The students will each glue one piece of gold foil paper to their mural.

                                                                      iii.      She will show the children some salt

                                                                1.      She will ask the children to name some uses for salt.

                                                                2.      She will explain that salt is necessary for our bodies, especially if we sweat a lot as we                                                                             would in the desert.

                                                                3.      The students will use a paintbrush to put a thin layer of glue on a small square of                                                                                         paper and then sprinkle it with salt.  They will glue the papers to their mural.

4.      How can we protect the desert?

                        a.      The students will brainstorm ways that people can ruin the desert

                        b.      The teacher will tell the students about some of the ways the deserts are being endangered and how                                     that affects the environment there

                                                                          i.      When cities are built in the desert, they take away animal homes

                                                                        ii.      When people move into the desert and establish yards with sprinklers and different plants, it
                                                        invades the space of the native plants

                                                                      iii.      When people ride 4-wheelers an other vehicles in the desert, it can wipe out plants that are

                                                                       iv.      The students will choose one way that we can protect the desert and make a poster about it
                                                           to share with their school.  The teacher will hang these posters in the hall.



            The students will meet together on the carpet and talk about all the things they learned about the desert and what it means to them.  They will also identify their favorite parts of this lesson.


Special Considerations:

·        Be aware of behavior issues, especially during the animal travel the children do during part 3 of this lesson

·        The students will need instruction about sharing space at the mural and respecting each other’s drawings.



            Assessment will be formal and informal.  The teacher will assess formally as the children draw pictures to put on the mural and as they make their posters.  The teacher will assess informally as she listens to the children’s answers to her questions and listens to their comments.


Annotated Bibliography

ArizonaRepublic.  (2008) Protect our desert.  Retrieved Dec. 2, 2010, from http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/opinions/articles/0515thur1-15.html
            This web site is about concerns of off road transportation effects on deserts.

BenP.  (2010)  Why are deserts important?  Retrieved Dec. 2, 2010 from
                        This is a very informative website about the importance of preserving
plants and animals that live in the desert as well as the minerals it holds and why it is important to the earth.

Butterfly Books.  (1989) Plants and Flowers of the Desert.  London: Macmillan
            Children’s Books
                    This is a short book written for children.  It contains full color photographs of plants and flowers found in deserts.

Desert Protective Council News.  (2010).  Retrieved on Dec. 2, 2010, from
                        This web site is a good teacher resource to help her stay caught up on the
latest desert news an concerns.

Nicholson, S. (2006).  Animal babies in deserts.  London: Kingfisher
            Animal Babies in Deserts is a very informative children’s book.  It introduces readers to desert animals, babies, habitats, and habits.

Salzmann, M. (2001).  In the desert (What do you see?)  San Diego:SandCastle
            This is a very simply written book for young children describing sights in the desert including animals, plants, and landscape.