A desert is defined as an area where it is incredibly difficult for life to survive because of the lack of precipitation and hostile climate. Whether your students and kids live in a desert climate and you are learning about your surroundings, or you are from a different area teaching about the variety of climates in the world, you need a bank of ideas and activities as your go-to for when your core curriculum and knowledge gets boring or thin.
1. Start With a Map
When teaching kids about the desert help them understand that the desert isn't just some big Middle Eastern place full of sand and camels. Showing them this US map teaches them that we have deserts everywhere and it isn't always what they just see on TV.
Learn more: Engage Learnability
2. Nocturnal Desert Animals Unit
Part of learning about the desert is learning about the variety of life that thrives there. This desert unit will offer elementary students information to help them understand how some animals can survive in this arid climate.
Learn more: The Crazy Outdoor Mama
3. Desert Pack
This ready-to-go set of printables all about the desert is an excellent and complete source of activities for children. With plenty of worksheets all themed around the desert environment, primary-grade students will find them fun and engaging.
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4. Desert Sunset Paintings
Pull in your students' creative side with these desert paintings. Show kids a variety of photos set in the desert during sunset to inspire them and then utilize construction paper and a cactus design to create an amazing scene.
Learn more: Still Playing School
5. Desert Adaptations Activity
Reinforce animal adaptations in the desert with your elementary-grade students. Complete with writing, coloring, and a cutting activity, this bundle will offer a memorable lesson.
Learn more: Traci Clausen Engaging Teaching
6. Build a Desert Biome
Elementary-aged children will absolutely love this desert biomes study. Kids will have the opportunity to create their own biome using a jar, sand, sticks, a succulent, and a fake critter that is suited for the desert environment.
Learn more: Steamsational
7. Desert Brain Break
Give littles a brain break during your favorite desert unit. Show children pictures of different life forms and attributes in the desert and have them get their wiggles out by following the instructions on the card.
Learn more: Pink Oatmeal
8. Desert Lapbook
This lap book uses animal pictures, foldables, spaces to write, and more in order to help students learn and remember all the need-to-know information about the desert.
Learn more: I Homeschool Network
9. Desert Anchor Charts
Never underestimate the use of a good anchor chart in the classroom, especially when it offers a variety of information specific to your unit. Leave it up for students to see to help jog their memories and offer scaffolding throughout your desert themed lessons.
Learn more: Siria Durham
10. Desert Animal Board Game
Set the tone for desert learning with this desert habitat game that offers a fun activity that students can learn to play with little support. Kids grab cards of desert animals and then move their game pieces to the nearest one making it perfect for your youngest students.
Learn more: Life Over C's
11. Why Oh Why Are Deserts Dry?
This adorable Cat in the Hat book will prep students with a ton of background knowledge in a fun, rhythmic way prior to diving into any desert lesson or unit. Have students listen, or read in small group, this fun book.
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12. Offering Background Reads
When you set your classroom up for teaching kids about the desert, it is important to immerse them in a various sources of information. Having a variety of books available for them to read during independent time or center rotations will offer them the opportunity to learn even more.
Learn more: Currently Wandering
13. Create a Desert Diorama
Use recycled shoe boxes or shipping boxes to have students create a diorama of a desert climate. This link to free printable pieces will be the perfect addition to their displays as they get creative with their learning. Make sure to do a gallery walk when you are finished so kids can show off their masterpieces!
Learn more: Printablee
14. Desert Animal Facts
Allow kids to gather knowledge about desert animals in a variety of ways by displaying these adorable posters around your room. Whether you include questions to go with the posters, utilize them as centers, or just keep them up to add to the ambiance, kids will love learning these facts.
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15. Desert Animals Mad Lib
Help kids practice their descriptive writing and learn about desert creatures with this fun mad lib. They'll need to learn the parts of speech and utilize a variety of words to make their writing piece stand out.
Learn More Here: Woo! Jr.
16. Cactus Hotel
This first-grade lesson and craft on ecosystems is a fun way to introduce deserts. Each part of this lesson is designed to engage, excite, and help students learn interdependence in the desert climate.
Learn more: The First Grade Roundup
17. Desert Preschool Printables
All of these printables and busy bins will suit your preschool desert theme perfectly as students learn a variety of skills and lessons through the lens of desert life. They're easy to set up and the best part is most of the things needed are easy to find.
Learn more: Busy Hands and Minds
18. Read About the Desert Biome
Teach kids to hone their reading skills using this factual text about desert biomes. Students can utilize this worksheet for a variety of reading skills, including summarizing, sourcing relevant details, analyzing text structure, and more!
Learn more: Worksheet Place
19. 10 Fun Facts
Wow your upper elementary students with these fun facts about the desert. Arrange them into a PowerPoint presentation for a more interesting and visual approach to teaching. You could even include this resource as a part of research about the desert for kids.
Learn more: Help Teaching
20. Desert Unit Study Resources
Give kids an all-in-one place to go to for their desert research prior to a project or even just a place to study facts for a test or assessment. This website houses a variety of helpful links that can be used for many purposes but would be especially great for student research.
Learn more: Blessed Learners
21. Deserts of the World Video
Students will be incredibly surprised to learn that deserts are not just hot and sandy - because the definition of a desert is a nearly inhabitable place, students will find it interesting that many of our climates around the world are inhabitable.
Learn more: Learn Bright
22. National Geographic Deserts 101
This video gives kids glimpses of the terrain, climate, animals, and more that make up the variety of desert locations. This would be a great introductory video to a desert unit or a nice break from the daily monotony of worksheets and lectures.
Learn more: National Geographic
23. Teach Shapes Using Cacti
This adorable game only requires a printer and some scissors before your kids can get playing. Challenge their memory and their geometry skills with the ability to identify shapes within your desert unit.
Learn more: Life Over C's
24. Practice Handwriting
Help reinforce both desert vocabulary and handwriting practice by allowing students to utilize these worksheets in centers, small groups, or independent practice during class.
Learn more: Mama's Learning Corner
25. Who Belongs in the Desert?
Challenge younger students with this adorable and engaging worksheet. Students will identify the animals and then determine which ones belong in the desert, and which do not. This activity helps support and reinforce adaptations.
Learn more: Education.com
26. Desert Yoga
Another fun brain break or morning starter is this adorable take on yoga! Kids are given desert-themed poses to take part in. This will help get blood flowing and oxygen moving and help kids take their minds off of their troubles.
Learn more: Pink Oatmeal
27. Desert Night Desert Day
To start your desert lessons, you are going to want to read this book chocked full of beautiful illustrations to your kids pronto! It compares and contrasts what happens in the desert during the day and night so students begin to get a full understanding of habitat and adaptations.
Learn more: Amazon
28. Animals in the Desert Word Find
Have some downtime during the day when you need a quick activity to keep kids busy? This Animals in the Desert word find is the perfect solution as it keeps your students focused on one topic whilst reinforcing the ideas behind the desert habitat.
Learn more: Education.com
29. Evoke Background Knowledge
Prior to starting your lessons and/or unit on the desert, get kids thinking about a desert and dispel those rumors and misconceptions about the desert that we are fed through movies and tv. Create an anchor chart and as you learn about the desert you can answer and eliminate information from the poster.
Learn more: Teaching with a Touch of Honey
30. Desert Biome Mystery
Entice students to join in this mystery as they discover a ton of important and interesting information regarding the desert biome. Similar to a murder mystery, students will have to find out whodunnit!
Learn more: Teaching Without Chairs
31. Research Desert Animals Poster
Researching is a difficult skill that needs to be explicitly taught to students. These posters are perfect for new researchers as they serve as amazing graphic organizers to get students learning how to properly research with some guidance.
Learn more: Southern Fried Teaching
32. Sand Slime
After learning about the desert, let the kids take home a little sand with them by allowing them this fun and memorable craft. Using only a few ingredients, it's simple to make and kids will LOVE it!
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