A week or two before the start of our school year, Cheese asked to learn about the desert…so we began our year with what ended up being a 4-week unit on biomes!
Fortuitously I’d seen somewhere that WASECA was selling a digital version of their Introduction to the Biomes curriculum for $12, so I snapped that up! It comes with printable versions of many of the questions and three part cards, and also the blackline masters that are freely downloadable on their website anyway.
We started with a couple of weeks generally introducing biomes. Meatball had done a couple of rounds of biome work at school, but this was all new to Cheeseball. I went through the WASECA curriculum and listed the lessons I thought we’d cover. I also printed a lot of biome information from worksheetplace.com since our libraries were closed. However our libraries soon opened with a reserve/pickup service so I put in an order!
Here’s what we worked on:
1. A general introduction to biomes
On our first day we just watched a very short video with visuals of different biomes around the world. I didn’t introduce the video, nor did we really talk about it afterwards. This was just for visuals, and because we didn’t have any library books yet!
2. Living/Non-Living item sort
I pulled out a tray of various items as suggested in the Waseca lesson: an empty jar of air, some soil, a rock, some plants, some plastic animals, a candle, a jar of water, a cork. We sorted the items into two groups – which was pretty easy. However we then furthered the discussion by talking about which of the elements on the tray are needed for life to exist
3. Parts of a biome jars
This was a fun lesson! After discussing items that support life a day or two before, we headed out into the garden to collect all the elements of our own little biome! We collected: energy from the sun in a solar light, soil from the ground, air, water, a plant, and, not going to lie – we didn’t try too hard to find an insect to bring back in. We used a plastic bird to represent our animal…
4. Parts of a biome nomenclature
After collecting our own parts of a biome, we labeled the jars with their names, and I stated that every biome has all these elements. For the first time, the girls had the option for follow up work, making booklets from the An Introduction to the Biomes with Curriculum – Elementary Masters download. Meatball made the book.
5. Drawing our own biome
The next lesson re-iterated the six elements of a biome. I guided us all through drawing our own biomes! They were wonderful, and all so different! I made 6 copies of each biome drawing. One sheet was fully colored – our front cover. On each other sheet, we only coloured in one element of the biome.
6. Reading books on all the different biomes
Luckily our library book reservations came in! Over a couple of days I read a book on each biome. I meant to move on and space this out, but as soon as we read books about each biome, the girls wanted to get started researching their own specific biomes! I particularly liked the books in the About Habitats series. One side of each spread had a simple sentence, with a full page illustration on the other side. However, at the back of the book smaller images of each illustration were repeated with much more information. Great differentiated books for my two different ages!
7. Research on a biome
After reading about all the different biomes, the girls were inspired and wanted to start research right away! I did not plan to introduce research until later in our studies, but we jump started! We used this sheet as our outline for both girls. Over the next couple of weeks, while continuing with other lessons, Meatball researched the tundra, and Cheeseball researched the desert.
For the most part, Meatball worked by herself. She showed me her research when it was done, and we discussed if she’d done enough and where she needed to add more information. Once we were both happy, she began making a slideshow. She researched using books, pre-printed material, and online.
With Cheeseball, I was much more hands on. We read easy readers about deserts together. When she found an animal or plant she wanted to include we printed out a picture of the animal. I then re-read the appropriate section of the book to her, and she told me what she wanted to say in her presentation. I wrote her sentences on a post-it note and stuck them to the back of the picture. Later, I typed the post-it notes up and taped the sentences to the back of each picture for easier reading during her presentation.
At the end of our biome studies (after all the following items) the girls presented their projects to us, to some friends, and also to our school district teacher. Meatball presented her slideshow, while Cheeseball held up the pictures we’d printed and read the sentences on the back. They both did so very well!
8. The sun’s rays
This activity didn’t engage the girls too well. It brings measurement into the discussion of why some parts of the earth are warmer than others, and Cheese needed the measurements work, but we’d already had a conversation about why the equator is warmer than the poles – oh well. The sheet is available in WASECA’s An Introduction to the Biomes with Curriculum – Elementary Masters download.
9. Biome picture sort
Over the weeks we’d had a lot of conversations about the different biomes and we well into our research so it was time to start consolidating and wrapping up our work. I printed a set of biome sorting picture cards. Most were easy to to identify, but we did have some discussions about a few of the cards.
10. Animal Adaptation Cards
The animals adaptation cards are a WASECA printable, discussing different ways animals adapt to their biomes. These were a lot of fun!
11. Biome Q & A Cards
Another WASECA item, these seemed like a great way to test our knowlege. Each girl took turns choosing a category and trying to answer all the questions!